Throughout Black History Month, the3million will be celebrating the invaluable contribution black EU citizens make to the fabric of British culture through a series of portraits.

First published in October 2020.

I’m Dahaba Ali Hussen, a freelance journalist, producer and campaigner on social justice issues and an activist here at the3million, and I am inviting you to celebrate Black History Month with us.

Black History Month is the annual celebration of the vital contribution that Black people make to everyday life. In the UK, Black History Month spans throughout the month of October. This year, the3million will be publishing a series of portraits and holding online events to celebrate the black EU citizens that live and work in the UK.

My journey

I was born in The Hague, on a blustery Autumn’s day. My parents had only moved to The Netherlands a few months prior to my birth. My mother fled the Somali civil war in the late 1990s and sought asylum in Holland.

I lived ten very happy years in The Hague, I went to school – made some very good friends and I was fluent in both Dutch and Somali. My family decided to move to the UK in 2002, a decision mainly led by my father but one that I most definitely do not resent as I have now made the UK my home.

Secondary immigration is very common amongst members of the Somali community but also amongst those who have experienced hardship and civil strife. Perhaps displacement makes the human soul wary about settling down once more.

I grew up in various council estates around London until the age of 18 when I was fortunate enough to be granted a scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge and thus began the toils and turmoils of adult life.

These toils and turmoils unfortunately started out with Brexit, and the quest for Settled Status which at the time, first made me feel unwelcome but then counter-intuitively strengthened my resolve to remain in the UK.

A multi-faceted identity

Fast forward to present day London and my mid-twenties. A very strange time to be alive, post-Brexit and mid-pandemic, I’m not sure which quagmire to delve into first. Let us start with identities and what some people may call, paradoxes.

I’m Dutch but I wield the British sarcasm like a finely tuned fencing sword. I’m Black but I also identify strongly with my Somali heritage. I come from a lower socio-economic background but I’m numbered as one of the educated intelligentsia. I’m a woman and lest we not forget my connection to Islam.

I’m positive I am not alone when it comes to feeling slightly confused about which “box” you fit into. Especially when it comes to EU identities...

When you think of an EU citizen, you usually think of someone from a specific demographic. Perhaps they are from Sweden, Germany, Poland, Romania or France.

Here at the3million, we are looking to change that perception and widen the lens. Through a focus on journeys and identities, we want to highlight the varying experiences of under-represented EU voices.

Throughout this Black History Month, we will be celebrating the invaluable contribution black EU citizens make to the fabric of British culture through a series of portraits, which will be published in our newsletter and on our social media channels. Look for the hashtag #BlackHistoryMonth.

I invite you to share your stories if you are a black EU citizen or ask your friends if they would like to do so. Just get in touch with me and I will get back to you.

We also invite black EU citizens to join us for our first online event on Thursday 15 October, 6-7PM to start the conversation and build a new network of black and under-represented EU citizens in the UK. Please register using this eventbrite link.🔷

Dahaba Ali Hussen, freelance journalist, producer and campaigner on social justice issues, and an activist at the3million.

[This piece was originally published in the3million newsletter and re-published in PMP Magazine on 4 October 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: the3million.)

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