As a man who grew up in Africa, I spent my formative years living and understanding the strength and plight of my predecessors. We celebrated our rich history and our path to freedom, reclaiming our culture along the way. Moving to Scotland opened my eyes to a lack of awareness of black history in the West and often, a denial of the history of black people that have made the world what it is today.

Black History Month to me is a time of catharsis and reflection. It is also a time to acknowledge all the sacrifices, made by others, that allow me to have access to the opportunities that I have today. I strive to honour those sacrifices by taking a stand for what I believe in by supporting ideas and organisations that support equality, diversity and acceptance. Over time, I have seen improvements, but there are still things that are lacking. I am a counsellor and the methods I was taught here in Scotland, did not apply to myself. How can one improve their wellbeing if their needs are being ignored? I now teach other counsellors the importance of cultural sensitivity. Black people need to be included in the conversation. My health needs to be about me, not what is assumed about me.  

For me, Black History Month is also a time for celebrating the achievements of people of African Descent. People like Patrice Lumumba, Winnie Mandela, Nelson Mandela, who were instrumental to the Liberation of the African continent and in turn, the liberation of black people across the world. This freedom can be seen in others who contributed to the arts like Joseph Bologne and Nina Simone; People that share the voice of the black people to a wider audience, and the pride we have for what we have overcome.

Black History Month gives me hope that the human family is moving towards world of equality peace and harmony. However, we can see that there is still a long way to go. In a year so interrupted by injustices toward black people, this Black History Month, we must shout louder than ever. Then maybe one day, we will recognise that black history should be taught for more than one month a year. Black History is not something that is separate from the history of the West or from the history of Scotland. Back history and black lives should matter to all.  

- Shingi Musunhe

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Black History Month is marked each October in the UK. 

This year, however, has seen the conversation around the inequality present in Black Lives take centre stage in a way rarely seen before. Around the world, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to demand better. The #BlackLivesMatter movement, which originated in 2013, may have in this case been spurred by horrific police brutality, but there are unfortunately many other ways in which black communities are negatively affected. Being disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS the world over being one.

Advances in treatment in general can’t mean we get complacent and consider HIV, it’s associated effects and the stigma around it, a thing of the past.