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Black History Month 2023

2 Oct 2023

In Scotland, the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) has co-ordinated Scottish Black History Month since 2001. They describe Scottish Black History Month as encompassing the histories of African, Caribbean and Asian people, often linked with Scotland through slavery, colonialism and migration, and “whose sacrifices, contributions and achievements against a backdrop of racism, inequality and injustice are often forgotten about”. Their Black History Month Scotland website provides background information on BHM and its origins, blogs, archives of past BHMs and links to other resources. It includes a detailed programme of all the events happening for Black History Month 2023 including how to register for these.

Over the course of the month, we will be highlighting some of our past seminars that aim to raise awareness and understanding of racism as a fundamental determinant of health; the systemic nature of racism across society and within key institutions and organisations; and its importance and relevance to our work in improving health and reducing inequality. This includes a 2019 talk from Professor Laura Serrant, a 2020 talk from Professor David Williams and a talk in June of this year from Professor Kevin Fenton. All renowned academics who delivered important and we hope impactful seminars to help establish the need for Scotland’s public health system to recognise and address racism as a fundamental cause of heath inequality.

We will also share key evidence demonstrating the ongoing health, social and economic inequalities experienced by Black and minority ethnic populations, driven largely by historic and ongoing racism and discrimination. Alongside this, we will be highlighting the great work that is taking place across Scotland to address these inequalities. We hope this will raise awareness of those working in this space and to help foster new relationships and connections.

We are also reflecting on our own internal organisational culture, practices and communications. As an organisation, we are aware of a lack of diversity within the wider public health system, our team and governance structures.   We are in the process of seeking the support of an external agency or agencies to help us understand what we need to do to tackle this, to develop an anti-racism programme of work and to embed anti-racist principles and practice across all that we do, and how we can evaluate our progress.

We know that one month is not enough and that this is an issue that requires continual and ongoing prioritisation to increase awareness, understanding and action. However, we feel it is important to participate in this month alongside others, to continue to raise awareness of the issue and its systemic nature and to acknowledge and celebrate the contribution that Black and People of Colour-led organisations are making across our communities.  

As we concluded in our 2020 Williams seminar:

Until our model of the social determinants of health includes understanding issues of racism and racialisation, our model will remain incomplete and, consequently, so will our policies.

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