Completing our series of blogs for Black History Month, Monique Smith, Adviza's Area Manager for Bristol and Gloucestershire, describes her experiences and explains what the month means to her.

Monique Smith, Area Manager at AdvizaBlack History Month is important and something to really celebrate, however I’m black every day and we should think about how we treat people from different cultures all the time, not just on special occasions. Black history is rich but it’s not taught in UK schools in the way I think it should be. I also feel that in a lot of cases the media portrayal of black people in general still cleaves more to stereotypes than facts. There are people everywhere, from every demographic who make mistakes, yet the history of black representation in the media has created a perception that if one black person does something wrong then we’re all guilty.

Proud To Be

Black culture has contributed so much to the world, and today anybody can pick up a book or look online and become instantly more familiar with all that black people have achieved and contributed to society.

At school I had quite a difficult time, I was bullied quite badly because of my skin colour and was one of only a few ethnic minority children in a school of over 1,000 students.

My parents had a difficult experience in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s, but taught all three of their children to do their best despite the obstacles we faced due to prejudice and racism. We are now all managers educated to Degree level or higher which we are very proud of.

This poem reminds me of how my parents taught us to be confident and to keep going even in difficult times:

I Am the Black Child by Mychal Wynn

I am special, ridicule cannot sway me
I am strong, obstacles cannot stop me
I hold my head high, proudly proclaiming my uniqueness
I hold my pace, continuing forward through adversity
I am proud of my heritage
I am confident that I can achieve my every goal.
I am becoming all that I can be
I am the Black Child, I am a Child of God.

Continuing to build

My skin colour has never stopped me achieving at Adviza. It’s an inclusive culture where we can talk openly about a range of issues. We now need to continue building our diversity so that we can help our ethnic minority customers who otherwise struggle due to social and educational constraints to achieve their best.

Read the other blogs in this series:

What Black History Month means to me: Jaskirat Mann 
What Black History Month means to me: Linda Gillieard