Black History Month 2020
06/11/2020 (Staff Post - Gozie Joe Adigwe )
Black History Month 2020 – How Engage Renfrewshire’s New Buddies Officer came to work with the planning group.
Black History Month 2020 (October) was unlike any other year. Yes social distancing put this year’s events calendar through the challenge of actually having events online, radio and print media. As an officer working with Black Asian and Minority Ethnic people in Renfrewshire I was pleased to be invited on to the planning group co—ordinated by Renfrewshire Leisure - as we built up a plan to showcase local talent, enjoy new music and storytelling. It was clear that the planning was going to have to offer the goods quickly as the decision was made to go ahead with the celebrations. It was very much felt that after a whole summer of the pandemic crisis it was important to have something a bit joyful in the dark month of October.
I was excited to be part of bringing this together in Renfrewshire, working with Paisley FM, Jambo Radio, The Mill Mag and others to promote everything. The month included the launch of a new album by Glasgow African Balafon Orchestra, international storytellers, The Museum of Me – curated by local African kids, and chairing a webinar themed Black representation in the creative industries in Scotland. All very entertaining and food for thought too. Being part of the group was intensive and given the other priorities of the New Buddies role the balancing act was, well, put to the test. For me, bringing the programme together in just a few months meant break neck speeds, acquiring a few more Zoom skills along the way as I collaborated with people who were genuine about celebrating the area’s diversity.
My focus for BHM 2021 will be to bring new local groups front and centre for next year, and perhaps take a step back to allow for more community led direction. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know local people (still no face to face since I started the role in April) and the energy was always positive (even while scratching my head as I read Council contracts for artists!). So now October is firmly behind us, for me it’s time to re-focus on other priorities as we move forward. The opportunities for real inclusion in Renfrewshire come in all shapes and sizes. Black History Month gave me a lovely glimpse of some of these – the learning on the job was a delight – but there’s more work to be done!