Black History Month – celebrating exceptional achievements

9th October 2023

We need to highlight the incredible achievements of Black women in society

Danielle Jackson is a Project Manager in the Democracy & Governance division at Civica and an advocate for young people in care and care leavers across two London boroughs.

This Black History Month, she talks about acknowledging privilege, the importance of allies and the incredible achievements of Black women in society.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

In my opinion, the visibility of Black History Month has shifted over the past decade. I remember when it was actively celebrated in communities and media outlets for the whole month. More recently, the month can seem more performative than a genuine attempt to reflect on history, celebrate Black achievements and promote positive change.

If we’re going to celebrate properly, we should dedicate time to learn about Black culture, history, and excellence. Furthermore, it should increase allies for the Black community, highlight the importance of continued conversations, and celebrate our incredible achievements and contributions to society.

Why do you think it is important to recognise Black History Month?

It’s important because Black people are still marginalised in society. This month provides the opportunity for people to acknowledge their privilege and gain a deeper understanding of how the past impacts the present and future.

Black history has contributed to notable changes in the world, such as boosting the UK economy and leading civil rights movements, to name a few. Black History Month represents the importance of Black experiences and successes on both a local and global scale.

How do you think your heritage has impacted your current position?

My heritage has impacted my current position due to systemic inequalities in society. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionality highlights the multifaceted aspect of inequality and the difficulties people face due to the ‘intersection’ of multiple characteristics. I have faced (and continue to face at times) many obstacles as a Black British woman from a working-class background.

Imposter syndrome is an ongoing battle too, which is often exacerbated by the environments I am in. For example, being the only Black woman in the room or team at the most junior level. On top of this, stereotypes and hair discrimination have made it difficult for me and other Black women I know to be assertive without being perceived as aggressive or embrace our natural hair at work without prejudice or unsolicited remarks.

While it is draining that we still face these challenges in 2023, I do remain hopeful that Black women will be treated with more respect.

I value the affinity groups at Civica and the colleagues I have been able to speak to here about my experience working in a less diverse environment.

Is there a figure in Black history who has inspired you?

Black sportswomen have inspired me from a very young age, especially tennis players. Growing up, I was inspired by The Williams sisters and the history they made on the court. Coco Gauff is my latest inspiration! Her resilience, motivation and success are incredibly inspiring.

I am also inspired by someone who holds a special place in my heart. She has always believed in me and helped me to become the woman I am today. She reminds me to be myself no matter what and to remember that other people’s judgments are a reflection of their preconceptions.

This year’s theme is helping to celebrate the exceptional achievements of Black women: do you have any role models here?

Mary Seacole, Rosa Parks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Michelle Obama, Dina Asher-Smith and Dawn Butler are just a handful of Black women across the globe who have made, and continue to make, history in society.

I hope this year’s theme of celebrating the exceptional achievements of Black women will highlight the incredible achievements we have made, and continue to make, in the world.

I also hope the theme will help motivate organisations to use precise information when sharing DEI statistics, increase the number of Black women in senior positions and actively work on retaining Black talent.