How Far Have We Come – Where Are We Going? By Marcia Dixon MBE

Black History Month gives Black Britons a chance to reflect on how far they’ve come, where they are going and to celebrate Black achievement.

There’s no denying there has been progress.

Members of the Windrush Generation who are still alive can look on proudly, as their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren receive the education, careers and recognition they desired for their families when migrating to the UK.

And it’s evident that, compared to the early decades of the Black presence in Britain from the 1950s onwards, there are now more people of African and Caribbean descent in positions of power and influence.

Black people now lead charities and businesses, and enjoy highly paid and successful careers. Some have even been recognised for their achievements in the late Queen’s Honours List and have received the highest awards possible.

Such has been the growing influence of the Black community, Powerful Media publishes The Black Power List every year. It contains details of the 100 most influential Black people in British society, across all fields of endeavour: business, religion, art, sport and much more.

As British society and the wider world have reflected on the life of HM Queen Elizabeth II, it is evident there has been a sea change in how the views and opinions of Black people are valued.

During the media coverage of the Queen’s death, funeral and the installation of King Charles III, there has been a notable increase in the sought-after opinions of Black media commentators and pundits. This would never have been the case had this historic moment taken place 10 or 20 years ago.

The role of Black people in British society is also changing. The new Prime Minister Liz Truss has chosen a number of Black MPs and women to be part of her cabinet, including Kwasi Kwarteng, the first ever Black Chancellor of the Exchequer – very different from the all-White and predominantly male cabinets I recall from my youth.

Like I said, there’s no doubting that progress has been made in the corridors of power and influence, however we cannot and must not lose sight of the negative experiences some members of our community are still facing, especially in the criminal justice system. The recent killing of an unarmed Chris Kaba, following a police car chase in Streatham, is a reminder there is much work to be done in dismantling racism and its impact on the lives of young Black men.

Neither can we ignore that, despite the great advances that have been made, the Caribbean community in now an ageing one due to a decline in our birth rate. Conversely, there has been a rise in the mixed-race community, as more of the Caribbean community are marrying out.

The question needs to be asked, what implications does this have for the Black Caribbean Church and its future existence?  And will other Black communities in the UK follow a similar path, as they become more influenced by White British culture?

I say it’s all very interesting.

Progress is being made.  But at what cost?

Who knows what those implications — our progress and ageing community — will have for the Black Church? It will be interesting to watch this unfold.

CHALLENGES BUILD STRENGTH

I’m a person who loves a good inspiring quote and the one below ticks all the right boxes:

‘Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strength.  When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.’

The implied sentiment rings true.

No matter what endeavours we undertake in life, it’s always great to experience success, but strangely, attaining success doesn’t necessarily build character or fortitude.

It’s the hard times we go through — the failures, rejections, disappointments, challenges, illnesses and betrayals — that help to build character, resilience, fortitude and mental strength.

As a teenager growing up in church, preachers often spoke about trials (the word we use nowadays is ‘challenges’), but didn’t  present them as a bad thing. We were told trials made you stronger, better and, more importantly, drew you closer to God. If you were blessed and prayerful, God might work a miracle on your behalf so that you overcame your trial and emerged victorious.

So if you are going through a trial — no matter how difficult — ask God for the strength to go through it and overcome it. 

Don’t give up or give in.

Trust God.
He’ll bring you through and you’ll come out of your life challenges a better person.

COMING SOON: NEW BOOK ABOUT SINGLENESS

Over the years, one of the most talked about issues within the Black Christian community has been the issue of singleness and the difficulty some believers experience finding a life partner.

It’s a topic I have written about a lot during my journalism career, and because it’s an issue that is very dear to people’s hearts, I have decided that my debut book should be on the subject.

The book, which will be out in the forthcoming months, is entitled Black, Christian and Single: A collection of essays about singleness in Britain’s Black Pentecostal Church.

It features writing by Christians of all ages on the joy, pain and challenges of single life as a Black Christian. Topics covered include abstinence, femininity, divorce, online dating and more.

Look out for it.  

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