By Jenna Jones
October marks Black History Month in the UK, dedicated to celebrating and supporting the heritage, culture and history of Black people. And whilst learning about Black history is of course something that shouldn’t be reserved for just one month a year, Black History Month is a wonderful opportunity to shine a light on a host of incredible events, authors and brands representing Black culture in the UK.
What to read…
Penned by the phenomenal creator and star of I May Destroy You and Chewing Gum, Misfits is a deeply passionate and powerfully articulate manifesto inspired by her acclaimed Edinburgh Festival lecture. Coel’s poetic amalgamation of insight and wit invites readers to reflect on their own place in society through her striking personal revelations about race, gender and class.
Written by award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga, Black & British offers a frank and definitive account of the extraordinarily long and painstakingly overlooked relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. Recently republished featuring a new chapter encompassing the Windrush scandal and the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, Black & British is a groundbreaking piece of educational literature that should be read by all.
In Loud Black Girls, authors of Slay in Your Lane, Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke, invite the next generation of Black female authors, journalists, actors, activists and artists to explore what it means to be a Black woman in the UK today. From celebrating activism in local communities to teaching the next generation of young Black women to own their voices, Loud Black Girls is a poignant education in how to exist as your authentic self.
Brands to shop…
Founded in 2016, Maya Njie is a niche perfume brand with a clear focus on high-quality artisanal blends with scents that are deeply rooted in Founder Maya’s Swedish and West African culture. Inspired by an old family photo album, Maya set out to capture, by way of scent, those tropes of familial life. The tones are of a time and the accords nostalgic, yet the end products are notably contemporary.
As a Partner within the BBB Boutique, Maya Njie is offering BBB Club Members a 10% discount across the range.
As the name suggests, Naked Clay Ceramics celebrates clay in its pure form. Inspired by the natural colours and textures of the earth, Founder, Carla Sealey creates beautiful, minimal style tableware and homeware by hand from her studio in Bedfordshire. Each unique piece is fired with no glaze on the outside so that the feel of the natural, fired clay can be appreciated. Carla’s hope is that this tactile connection brings an opportunity to pause, breathe and savour a small moment in the hustle and bustle of busy life.
Oré mi is an independent wellbeing brand founded in 2019 creating handmade, vegan and cruelty-free home fragrances with luxurious, lasting scents. Oré mi – an expression which means my friend in Yorùbá – was founded by Karen Olla in 2019. The brand melds Karen’s Nigerian heritage with her upbringing in London, in a collection of restorative scents which draw upon her life experience. Most importantly of all, the brand was born out of Karen’s desire to break the taboo which surrounds the topic of mental health in the Black community and to support and celebrate African lifestyle products.
BBB Members can find Oré mi within the BBB Boutique and receive 20% off their purchase.
Things to do…
Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black is a professional ballet company that celebrates dancers of Black and Asian descent, making a fundamental change in the diversity of classical ballet in Britain. With various performances happening throughout the UK during October and beyond, expect sensational solos, seductive duos and fiercely dynamic pieces performed seamlessly by the Ballet Black Company.
Take a trip to Brixton to visit the Black Cultural Archives, the only national heritage centre dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of African and Caribbean people in Britain. Described by actor, writer and broadcaster, Kwame Kwei-Armah as “a goldmine of information about Black cultural identity in Britain”, the Black Cultural Archives differ from conventional, traditional archives as it remains rooted in the community that created it.
Soho Theatre and Hannah Layton Management have joined forces to showcase an unforgettable night of live comedy to celebrate Black History Month. Join Thanyia Moore (Funny Women Winner 2018) and Aurie Styla (BBC Radio London) on Wednesday 27th October for a one-night-only comedy special downstairs at the Soho Theatre featuring a lineup not to be missed.
Who to follow…
Sophie Williams is an incredible woman with many strings to her bow – author of two books, anti-racist ally, Founder of @officialmillennialblack, racial equity consultant and Manager of Production Planning at Netflix. In her own words, Sophie loves thinking and talking about intersectional identities (especially race and gender) and how they shape our experiences in the world.
Kingslee James McLean Daley, better known as Akala, is a MOBO and BAFTA award-winning rapper, journalist, author, activist and poet who uses his platform to educate and raise awareness. Featured on the annual Powerlist of the 100 most influential Black British people in the UK, Akala utilises a range of creative platforms to speak out about race in the UK.
Phyllis Akua Opoku-Gyimah, also known as Lady Phyll is a pioneer for increased visibility and advocacy for Queer, Trans and Intersex People of Colour in the UK and beyond. As Co-Founder and Director of Black Pride, Lady Phyll works tirelessly for the spiritual, emotional and intellectual health and wellbeing of the LGBTQ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent. Because “when we rise together, we are mighty”.