Black History Month: “There is so much Black history that people just don’t know – it’s time to start learning.”
We’re celebrating Black History Month #ProudToBe with stories from Black people across Wales on lessons Black history can teach us about the future.
Here, Jessica Dunrod, 32, author, translator, and education and inclusion consultant, from Cardiff, talks about the importance of representation and why complacency is one of the biggest threats to future generations…
“I started writing children’s books during the pandemic."
“It is believed that I am the first Black children’s author born in Wales, and I feel it’s so important to have children’s books available in Welsh.
When I was growing up, I didn’t see Welsh language books, and that’s what inspired me to create the AwDuron Fund which aims to fund the translation costs of 10 children’s books written by Black British authors into Welsh.
My first book, Outstanding, featured females of colour in roles like judges and engineers – to tackle the racial biases we form on ourselves and each other that are often solidified during our formative years.
The second, Your Hair is Your Crown, is about a girl with afro hair, and whenever her hair gets wet, Wales fills with magic.
Growing up, I’d spend hours straightening my hair and I never saw curls as an option.
Since May 2020, I’ve embraced the complicated relationship that I have with my hair and wear it naturally. My goal is to instill a sense of pride, beauty and appreciation in children for their own natural hair.
I’m very proud to be Black and Welsh. It’s important to me. Everything I do is about acknowledging Wales because we’re such a minority culture.
Black History was part of my upbringing. I had it instilled in me from my family – who we were, where we are from – a legacy of strength and resilience.
There is so much Black history that people just don’t know – it’s time to start learning.
Like Yaa Asantewaa, a fierce Ashanti Queen who battled courageously against the British empire in order for the Golden Stool to remain on the African continent. She was a leader, an intellectual, a human rights activist and you can find a museum in her honour in Ghana.
Generally I wish we would learn more about the heroes of African culture and celebrate their civilisations before the Europeans interrupted with their legacy of slavery.
By Wales taking the lead and including our full history into the Welsh Curriculum in 2022, hopefully we will inspire the other nations to follow.
The biggest threat to future generations is complacency when it comes to tackling climate change, misogyny and racism. There are policies in place, but people are unwilling to change.
People will admit to failure, but keep slapping down our fears with terms and conditions.
If politicians don’t listen now, then they won’t ever listen. I remember being a child in the classroom listening to the dangers of running out of fossil fuels, and now I’m still here and it’s even worse. These matters need to be dealt with.
There needs to be a sense of urgency.”
As told to Emma Evans.
Images by Yusuf Ismail @unifycreative
We believe Black history should be celebrated all year round. Wales’ Well-being of Future Generations Act puts a legal obligation on Welsh Government and public bodies to take action to improve the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales and create a more equal Wales and a Wales that promotes and protects culture and heritage.