Some say ‘once you go black, you never go back’. Apparently, they weren’t talking about Black History Month – or at least that’s what the folks at Kent University’s Student Union seem to suggest. Discussions of race being a mere social construct appear to have taken root so deeply at this great British institution, that the ‘black’ in Black History Month is nothing but a minor technicality.
You might wonder how I am so sure of this. Here’s Exhibit A:
Still not convinced? There’s more where that came from. Enter Exhibit B:
Yes, it appears blackness is merely tangential in all discussions of Black History Month – so much so that flyers celebrating this period can boldly feature individuals who come in varying shades of brown. To paraphrase the words of the great philosopher Oprah Winfrey, ‘You get a flyer! You get a flyer!! EVERYONE GETS A FLYER!!!’
Sadly, many disagreed with these choices, choosing instead to focus on the absence of African, Caribbean or any melanin-related heritage in the backgrounds of either poster boy. Even the official Black History Month Twitter handle weighed in on Kent Uni SU’s earnest efforts.
I, on the other hand, applaud the forward-thinking men and women of Kent University and have chosen instead to take inspiration from them. Based on the excellent work of these good folks, I have drawn up a list of perfectly qualified ambassadors well suited to serve as the new faces of Black History Month.
The Slumdog Millionaire star is not only sufficiently brown – wait for it – BOTH his parents were born in Africa. Also, with a name like Patel, he can convincingly pass for ‘not from around here’ and could easily represent the various strange peoples who clamour for entire months of the year to celebrate cultures and histories we don’t quite get.
Patel’s parents are both Hindu Indians born in Nairobi, Kenya. They emigrated separately in their teens and later met in London when they were arranged to be married.
Comedy powerhouse Mindy Kaling is a no-brainer. She’s funny, she’s famous and, most importantly, the name says it all. Ethnic galore. Her moniker even has many letters in common with Kent’s first choice Zayn Malik. Mindy also ticks many boxes on the diversity front – she plays great with the body positivity crowd, she has ovaries and she definitely meets the required brownness quota. Also, she has a faux black brother. She definitely qualifies!
I couldn’t think of a better representative for Black History Month.
If you hadn’t heard of His Fineness Luke until now, you’re welcome. The 26-year-old actor’s Italian heritage means that, at certain times of the year, he is sufficiently tanned to be Black History Month’s resident eye candy.
Now, this is potentially problematic since, in the UK, Black History Month is observed in October. October isn’t renowned for endless supplies of sun rays and Vitamin D. Still, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If we’re being liberal with our interpretation of ‘black’, it’s not a stretch to revise the time constraints of this exercise. Who says we can’t have a Black History Month champion in July? Time is but a social construct designed to keep you in chains. Break free, brethren. Break free.
Clearly, MIA rates very highly on the Brown’o’meter thanks to her Sri Lankan Tamil heritage. In fact, earlier this year, MIA was billed as the headline act at the London Afropunk music festival. Sadly, haters undermined this great moment by focusing on that pesky ‘afro’ prefix and actively campaigning for MIA to be replaced by musicians of black origin, mainly because of comments the singer had made about the #BlackLivesMatter movement. In the end, the festival was headlined by some hula-hooping lady called Grace Jones.
Backlash aside, MIA continues to hold a special place in our hearts and a Black History Month honour would be the perfect way to say ‘No hard feelings, right?’
There’s really not much to add. The man played Ghandi. That’s as brown and historical as you can get. Throw in a tad more spray tan, add a toga for cultural effect (or switch things up with ankara or kente cloth) and BOOM. Black History Icon.
There you have it. A comprehensive list of gems who could easily be selected as the faces of Black History Month, following in the pioneering footsteps of the men and women at the University of Kent.
*An honorary mention, of course, must go out to the Kardashian Klan whom, through tanning, twerking and matrimony, have inched closer and closer to Black History Icon status. It is also worth mentioning that their proximity to Diwali spokesperson Kanye Omari West places them in a strong cultural position. Without a doubt, they’ll be toppling our top five very soon.