Benjamin Zephaniah (Black people will not be respected until our history is respected, 12 October) says of Linda Bellos, who introduced the first Black History Month (BHM) in Britain in 1987, that “when she used the term ‘black’, it was political, and not a reference to skin colour”. That is, she meant what we would now call black, Asian and minority ethnic. However, BHM has largely focused on black African, Caribbean and American history, particularly this year with Black Lives Matter and the emphasis on slavery.
Yet surely Bellos was right. While the evil of slavery was inflicted, by those from Britain, exclusively on black Africans, the history of colonial exploitation by Britain is much bigger – in terms of its duration and scale, and of the wealth and populations involved – in the countries that came under the British Raj, than in Africa or elsewhere. That is not to minimise the effect of slavery. However, the descendants of those who suffered under the Raj are in effect denied the opportunity to explore and criticise this history that BHM provides for those of black African descent. The situation needs to be rectified.