Hoodies and Hijabs: Leicester Black History Month debate


CAPTION: DMU Student, Vivien enjoyed the discussion in a diverse community.

By Nikki Payne

Speakers and artists joined together to celebrate Black History month in Leicester.

Blackchat created an open discussion forum around specific topics on a Saturday morning, ‘Hoodies, Hijabs and anoraks’ being the most recent.

Karen Chouhan, Organiser at the Workers Educational Association ran the talks.

On the topic of Hoodies Hijabs and anoraks, she said: “Are we really so shallow as to discriminate on the basis of what people wear?

“Hijabs aren’t a barrier to communication, they don’t stop people from speaking to the person behind the Hijab, it’s about getting past our own barriers.”

Mrs Chouhan created discussion throughout the talk about the history of ethnic clothing and the perceptions it portrays.

She showed the group a comment from a Guardian reader about women and the burka:

“No woman in a burka (or a hijab or a burkini) has ever done me any harm. But I was sacked (without explanation) by a man in a suit. … men in suits then increased the misery to millions through austerity. If we are to start telling people what to wear, maybe we should ban suits.” – Henry Stewart

Vivien DaSilva, 22, a student at De Montfort University, attended the talk.

“The talk made me feel like I should take more time to learn about different cultures within my community to help bridge cultural divides.

“I enjoyed the diverse turnout as it meant more people were involved in a discussion.”

In 2016, Black History Month recognised the life and work of South African social rights activist Desmond Tutu on the occasion of his 85th Birthday.

It also marked 40 years since the seminal publication ‘The arts the Britain ignores’ by Naseem Kahn.

Policy, practice and social justice was the theme that was celebrated throughout #BHM2016.

Peter Soulsby, Mayor of Leicester welcomed the event: “I am delighted that this programme brings together such a variety of events, organised by artists, activists, arts organisations, and community associations to celebrate African and African-Caribbean people and their contributions, whether globally, nationally or locally.

“Leicester is a city proud of its diversity and remains committed to ensuring that people of different backgrounds, ethnicities and beliefs live together in peace and social cohesion, which we achieve by recognising and embracing our common humanity.”


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