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Black History Month: The growth of a diverse movement

Written by Ranjana Prasad,  volunteer at ACAA

Celebrated with a recognition of the contributions and involvement of the African and Caribbean diaspora across the world, Black History Month has steadily come to encompass and recognize the achievements of the Arab, Middle Eastern and Asian communities in diverse fields of employment, art, culture and society. October marked the extended celebration of these minority and sectional groups that have widened the scope of participation and immersion for individuals willing to and able to contribute to the economic, intellectual and social development of societies.

The reality of today exposes us to the deficiency in the representation of minority subgroups throughout the course of history and the lack of appropriate recognition afforded to them in writings that cover society, culture and its achievements. Born out of this paucity of recognition given to marginal and ethnic groups was the Black History Month, celebrated in October to mark the renewal of the establishment of a connect with the larger society in addition to recognizing the volume of achievements that have produced the level of impact that inspires similarly abled individuals to continue contributing to the large space of evolving change.

An initiative by the National Students’ Union (NUS) in the United Kingdom involved the organization of events and campaigns across the country to highlight and raise awareness around issues impacting minority communities. These initiatives included the Black Students’ Campaign, The Women’s Campaign, and the Disabled Student’s Campaign. As part of these programmes, Rabia Nasimi, the Development Manager of the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA), was invited to discuss her experiences as a young child escaping the massive political changes undergoing in Afghanistan in 1999 and her subsequent resettlement with her family into UK society. Fleeing the country by undertaking a precarious month-long journey as a 5-year-old, Rabia and her family were exposed to the obstacles and challenges of integrating into a Western society as refugees.

However, the search for a comfortable and fulfilling life was at the forefront of the family’s goals for the future. With the establishment of the ACAA in 2001 as a charity providing educational, legal and advisory support to incoming and struggling refugees in the UK, Rabia immediately became involved in a committal path that saw the enhancement of the charity at various levels through her effort as Development Manager. Her intense dedication to pursuing an education of highest quality is seen through her commitment to continue research that culminates in eventually developing policy solutions enhancing future prospects for refugees coming in to the UK. These steps have been taken through an adherence to a rigorously disciplined schedule that simultaneously allows her to effectively balance her contributions to the charity and apply her intellectual prowess through the course of her current PhD Degree at the University of Cambridge.

Believing her parents to play the most significant role in pushing for attaining quality education, she relates her choice to pursue a trajectory in academics, specifically in Sociology, to her background as a migrant in the UK. The ACAA has successfully allowed her to apply her acquired theory into practice. Witnessing differences in upbringing, education and opportunities as well as challenges of building a sense of identity in a foreign country, Rabia aims to influence policy, understand multi-faceted identity and identify successful models of integration in an arena that has challenged her family to balance two distinct identities.

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