In Review: Black History Month
Pangolin’s Niyat Tesfamariam and Ope Aina take a look back at the campaigns that shone during Black History Month, and most importantly, what we can learn from them.
The Independent x The UK Black Comms Network
The Independent teamed up with the UK Black Comms Network to use its platform meaningfully this Black History Month, giving a voice and bringing attention to Black owned organisations and community through the issues they face. The news outlet offered free advertising space for organisations, varying from civil rights to music. Meanwhile, The Independent’s race correspondent, Nadine White, commissioned features from notable Black British figures such as, Diane Abbott MP and Brighton striker, Danny Welbeck, to share their own experiences within their respective sectors.
This was a great example of using your reach to bring light to a community without making your own organisation the star of the campaign – showing both authenticity by letting Black figures speak for themselves, but also a selfless gesture to boost the profiles of organisations that are tackling the real issues that the Black community faces
Barclays Black Professionals Resource Group
Barclays gave the spotlight to its Black team members by speaking to members of the Barclays Black Professionals Resource Group (BBPRG) regarding the work they do to support Black colleagues and communities. Through spotlighting members of the organisation and the work they do, Barclays also drew attention to ways in which Black people in business can be supported, from showcasing Black women in STEM, to creating new pathways for Black business-owners.
As with The Independent, Barclays has given Black people the platform to speak for themselves, instead of speaking on their behalf with a celebrity spokesperson, ultimately bringing more attention to the brand itself. They have simultaneously cast a light on multiple areas of potential growth instead of zeroing in on one, highlighting the distance to go before Black communities have access to the resources needed to excel, whilst also profiling the change makers driving this change forward.
Better Health – Every Mind Matters
Who doesn’t love a survey…? NHS-led initiative, Better Health: Every Mind Matters, found that 6 in 10 Black people regularly experience anxiety about the week ahead, with issues such as juggling family life, looming to-do lists and a lack of sleep topping the reasons why. Working with leading influencers in the Black British community – rapper, Shocka, founder of Inside Out Well-being, Vanessa Boachie, and Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr T Ayodele Ajayi – Better health launched ‘Self Care Sunday’. The initiative offers NHS-approved tips and advice to improve mental health, whilst calling on the Black community to be kind to their mind.
‘Angry’ and ‘aggressive’ are buzzwords that many Black people feel burdened with, so allowing vulnerability and openness regarding mental health struggles as well as research that shows they’re not alone, is a great step to accessing support. Access to mental health support, such as talking therapies, are often considered out of reach to those of working class backgrounds – so promoting free services and at-home solutions via the NHS is particularly important.
A lot of promises were made following the Black Lives Matter resurgence in 2020 and Sainsbury’s took October 2022 as its chance to show its progress within Black communities. The retailer reported that they have increased Black representation at a senior leader level, invested over £1 million into supporting small, Black-owned start-up businesses through its Thrive with Sainsbury’s initiative (with up to five set to land in their supermarkets by the end of the programme), and made multiple donations to Black organisations aimed at fighting austerity in the community.
It’s very easy to launch a campaign that will be relevant for a month, but by using Black History Month to highlight what lasting changes they have made to support the Black community year round, they have set the bar on what brands can and should be doing to prove their commitment to change. A very fitting contribution to this year’s ‘Time for change: Action not words’ theme.
Show Racism The Red Card
Show Racism the Red Card worked with Championship team and ongoing partner, Swansea AFC on a workshop developed to educate young people on Black history, representation, and the importance of tackling racism in the modern day. Attended by over 50 Premier League Kicks participants, the event which was held at the Swansea.com Stadium saw SRtRC’s campaign manager for Wales, Dean Pymble leading the session.
Recently, tackling racism in sport has needed addressing more than any other time, with many agreeing that taking a knee before a match is just not enough. This campaign is a breath of fresh air as it shows action being taken to teach individuals from a young age the importance of the topic, having a positive impact on their futures and how they see their peers.
NOVEMBER’S FUTURE GAZER
Charles Olayinka – Founder & Director, SXWKS
Charles founded SXWKS – a collective of young, London-based creatives – in 2014 during the six week summer break to bring together creatives of various disciplines who collaborate to produce unique and thought-provoking content.
For Black History Month 2022, SXWKS worked with Levi’s on ‘My History is Black History’, a film that delves into what being Black and British means to a group of influencers, allowing them to share their own unique stories and debunk the idea of Black British people as a monolith.