Every October we celebrate British Black History Month to honour the achievements of black people throughout history. We also take the month as a much-needed opportunity to discuss topics of race, black culture and diversity. Our hope is that in the near future, these areas of discussion will no longer be confined to a month, but will become an integral part of the nation’s history all year round.
Psycle instructors Jade, Wolf and Felix open up about what the month means to them and how their black experiences have shaped them.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Jade: For me, it's about celebrating black history and showcasing all the greatness in our history. [It benefits] everyone. I believe none of us can ever know enough, regardless of background. That is the beauty of celebrating, so we can all learn and grow in knowledge.
Wolf: [Black history month] should benefit all, in the exact same way other cultures and races benefit fromlearning outside of their own – knowledge is power.
What was it like growing up in the UK as a black/biracial person?
Wolf: I’ve grown up in two different countries –I was born in Uganda and lived there until I was 12, then moved to London and have lived hereever since. In Uganda being biracial often classifies you with a local word known as ‘muzungo’ which means white, and here in the UK being biracial – especially mixed Afro-European – classifies you as being black. So, let’s just say there has been some confusion with identity over the years, nonetheless I am proud of my dual heritage.
How has your heritage andbackground shaped your understanding of the world?
Wolf: It has allowed me to understand that different parts of the world have different perspectives of who you are, but mostly it has allowed me to appreciate where I come from in close respect to the upbringing and love Ihave received fromparents of twodifferent races, putting asidestereotypes, opening up my mind, and reducing influence of racial discrimination.
Is there a specific black historical figurewho inspires you?
Jade: There are many black leaders that inspire me personally as a black female, but my top three are Maya Angelou for the eloquence, strength, absolute grace and wisdom of how to live in the most centred and present way; Oprah Winfrey for her grit, grace and incredible achievements; and Serena Williams for her physical and mental power, determination and self-belief.
Can you tell us about an early experience that influenced your career?
Wolf: As a child I loved being active and when I came to England I had the chance to learn basketball in school. I watched a Michael Jordan documentary and knew that I wanted to be a force that had a strong physical background. I've been a National League Basketball Champion, professional dancer and now a Psycle instructor. No matter what I do in my life I will always remain active.
What inspired you to pursue a career in fitness?
Jade: I love both the body and the mind. I love the powerful connection of the two and how one can influence the other to help you live at your optimum and truest potential –then your soul really sings!
What role does fitness and wellbeing play in shaping the minds of future generations?
Wolf: Fitness and wellbeing is universal, it should not be discriminative, and plays a key role in uniting people for a common goal of internal and external happiness.
Felix: Fitness and wellbeing areessential in shaping the minds of future generations, they helpme to achieve balance in my life and to be the truest from of myself. I think theycan have the same effect for others. More importantly, they teach mediscipline, hard work and determination –all the characteristics needed to achieve our goals, whatever they may be.
Whatdo you find most challenging about discussing issues around race in the UK?
Felix: I think there is a lack of understanding about the experiences of black people and other ethnic minorities in the UK. I think that is the hardest part about discussing race. Unless you truly know what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes, to feel what they feel and be who they are, it's very difficult to discuss your race with others who are not a part of it or who are not minorities. This is why black history month is so important, it is a conversation in which we share our incredibly diverse culture and background.
Wolf: In my opinion the route of all race issues is personal opinion and so discussing an issue will always be subjective and relative to people’s personal experiences. Finding common ground is not always easy especially if it’s not on the surface of conversation.
Do you have any advice for anyone reading thiswho is looking to open up the conversation about race, or anything that could educate new generations on Black History?
Felix: Just be open, listen and learn. I think this applies to those who are black and those who aren't. Black history is not taught in schools and for all black people it is very important to educate yourself on who you are, where you came from and what came before you. I’ve got loads of book recommendations if anyone wants to know more.
Wolf: Use all necessary tools to gain more knowledge and also share personal experiences with friends and family. Never close your mind, that’s when we stop learning.