“Black History Month should be celebrated every day of every week of every month” – that’s how Micheal described the value of this important awareness month and what it means to Black communities across Scotland.
Micheal is part of our JustCitizens’ panel. He is originally from Uganda and has moved to Scotland to start a new life. He has decided to become part of the panel as he believes that – through JustCitizens, “our voices are heard, and we can take a more active role within our communities.”
When talking about challenges affecting the migrant community in Scotland with our JustCitizens members, we realise more and more that these gaps and barriers not only exist, but often are difficult to break. Members such as Glory and Eleni – who have taken part in events across the country, and Micheal who has organised activities and events to support people from the Black migrant community with integration – explain that this celebratory period highlights the issues affecting the Black community. He goes on to clarify that many of these issues are based on are embedded historical and systemic barriers existing in our society.
“To me, it’s not just a cultural barrier which is linked to the different ways of living, it’s more about how this can be overcome in Scotland. After we arrive, and receive a warm welcome, what happens? We need to create the conditions which allow the Black community to flourish and contribute to the society,” Micheal highlights.
Moreover, it’s about “looking at opportunities and possibilities, at creating spaces which are truly inclusive and reflect back in a positive way.”
This is the reason why Micheal has organised multiple events – in partnership with a tech company based in Scotland, to help people get back into employment, establish their own business, and learn more about funding opportunities to further study, acquire new skills or develop new skills.
“People need help and support from institutions and organisations to better understand what to do next and create their own path,” says Micheal.
Black History Month means a lot to Black communities across UK and in Scotland. For our members it also represents a moment of reflection “because when you are a migrant it is so much more difficult to integrate, understand the processes, find needed and useful information. This is still missing.”
We know from the latest demographics, that the migrant community is growing in Scotland and yet, breaking free from the cycle of systemic inequality and societal discrimination still seems far away.
Accessing justice, understanding your own rights and being able to progress without societal barriers and discrimination are the fundamentals upon which we must base any and all activisms. We want to ensure these values form the basis of our society so that the migrant community can flourish in Scotland.
That’s Micheal’s hope for the future. What’s yours?