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  • Catherine Wynne-Paton

What has Black history month got to do with me?

The short answer is as much or as little as you would like it to have.

A slightly longer answer is that Black history is also all our history; we are all part of our complex and every-changing culture. There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’; we are all in the story. As Sada Mire said in her Revise the History Books Hague talk, “The past, present and future is not fixed” and so by revisiting and re-examining our history we get a much more nuanced understanding of the past that can inform our present.

I am slightly overwhelmed by the prospect of educating myself on issues of race and inequalities faced in the UK. I thought I understood, but it turns out I probably don’t. With this chasm of ignorance and the remedying of it comes a great opportunity to add to the informed and empathetic voices against racism.

I’m showing three of my word collection paintings in the *Standing Together exhibition at The Bleddfa Centre coordinated by Lois Hopwood; words that I find exciting either for their meaning, sound, definition or evocation are included in the collection. When painting individual words, I am seeking a resonance with the word and something of the shape and meaning of the word comes through in the gestures, forms, textures and colours.

I have chosen words I feel might add something to the dialogue around Black equality, Black history and how we might include everyone in telling the stories of the world.


The act of perceiving; observation; attention

Noticing what’s been going on and the multi-layered nature of racism. Being aware of sexist behaviors since very early childhood, I am in a process of learning about micro-aggressive behaviors and how we have contributed to them unconsciously. I realise that if I don’t educate myself thoroughly on these matters I will be further adding to the problem.


Favourable or propitious

This isn’t something especially associated with now, yet it should be. This is a particularly good time to make changes and take the action we might otherwise be too timid to make. Many people want (even unconsciously) conditions to go ‘back’ to how they were previously. While this isn’t going to happen in the way we expect or even want, there are issues that we are going to have to fight to change. Society is not working with a top-down system of government. We have seen what can happen when communities mobilise autonomously, particularly recently, both geographically and digitally. This is a hugely worrying time and with it comes opportunity, before living conditions resets into a shape that is as unbalanced as before.


Refers to the person or people the speaker is addressing.

And so - I’m noticing and feeling the time is right to understand and watch out for inequalities for Black people, particularly in making decisions concerning them or when they do not want to always be the ones pointing out how the behaviour of others is biased.

Thank you for making the effort to read this. I am no expert on matters of race and I think it is important we all talk about it to further understand and reflect upon our own observations, especially if we feel unprepared. I would like to be counted as someone who fights for what I believe in and educating myself on the massive gaps in my knowledge and understanding is a huge part of the fight. My voice is currently quiet; I am building it.

And you?

*Exhibition Details:

Standing Together

PV Friday 9th October 6-8pm

Open Thursdays-Sundays 11-4pm 10th Oct - 1st November 2020 Oriel Bleddfa Bleddfa nr Knighton Powys Wales LD7 1PA


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