Black History Month Blog by Mark Dumbrill | NELFT Talks

Black History Month Blog by Mark Dumbrill | NELFT Talks

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Black History Month Blog by Mark Dumbrill

What does black history mean to you?

 As a white person, it’s only recently that I have started to realise that black history is my history too, as it’s the history of my country, and my world as well.  I was curious why I was always interested in the Incas, ancient Egypt, Kings and Queens of England, WWI and WWII, and many other histories that I learnt about at school, yet never showed much interest in black history.  At school, in my family, in my community (conservative, working-class, market town), and in the media of the 1980s and 1990s, I was rarely taught much about non-Egyptian Africa, the Caribbean (other than cricket), or slavery, or colonialisation (but was taught about colonisation). 

My black history was learnt from watching comedy such as Only Fools and Horses, Till Death Us Do Part, and even more painfully on reflection, Jim Davidson.  This meant I grew up with an implicit internalised idea that black history was less important than white history, and even something to be made a joke of.  It was only when I went to university that I started to learn more about Muhammed Ali, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi, and was able to watch films about them, as well as films such as Boyz ‘N the Hood, The Color Purple, Driving Miss Daisy, The Green Mile, Schindler’s List, American History X, and more recently The Green Book, 12 Years a Slave, and Selma. At the same time I discovered music from Public Enemy, NWA, Run DMC, Skunk Anansie, Massive Attack, Nitin Sawhney, Asian Dub Foundation, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Tracy Chapman, Aretha Franklin, and more recently Stormzy, MIA, Roni Size, and Dave.  But it’s all good and well for me to name check and acknowledge the contribution of these BAME people to the music and films that I love, and feel that I am becoming more black history educated, aware, and less prejudiced as a result. 

I am in a privileged position to pick and choose what I listen to/watch and when, as the issues in these films and music are not ones I have to face directly each day.  But do I really understand what these films and music are portraying?  And most importantly am I going to do something about it so that future BAME music and film does not have to be about these issues?  I hope so, and will try to.

What support will be giving/or have given to staff during black history month

As an EMN ally in Redbridge CAMHS, I (and colleagues) have made sure that the team are aware of the black history events that are being run by the EMN. 

What actions will you take/have taken to address this locally

We will discuss this further in our newly instated Racism & Privilege standing item on the agenda of our monthly team meeting in Redbridge CAMHS.  I led the quarterly NELFT London family therapy forum this month with the topic of ‘BLM: where do we go from here – professionally and clinically?’.

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