Black Honour Awards: “We are so much more than sun, sea, music, food and rum!”

Elizabeth Flanders is a proud Caribbean woman with a mission—to show the United Kingdom, and the world, that people of Caribbean heritage are talented and vibrant, and not who they are often portrayed as in the media.

Ms Flanders is the founder of Event Connoisseurs. Her company will be hosting the Spirit of The Caribbean Annual Ball on 4 June 2022 in London, which will incorporate the Black Honour Awards.

The Awards have been in the pipeline since 2019, but like a plethora of events around the globe, the pandemic caused a major delay.

“I want this ball to be a celebration to showcase Caribbean culture and heritage. I cannot stress this enough,” she tells SheHUB.

“We need this just say thank you to each other; the community needs to come together and realise that there are amazing people doing amazing things that we are not recognising and not acknowledging.

“Young kids need to know that we are more than knife crime and all of the violent things. We are not all in prison and are not all doing negative things.”

Ms Flanders says this perception falls largely on the shoulders of the media: “The media has a big role. Every single crime, everything that happens, I think the media disproportionately reports on things that are happening in the Black community as being negative and they never celebrate the good things that are happening in the community. There are so many wonderful things that are happening that don’t even get a mention. Crime doesn’t happen just in the Caribbean community. All Caribbean families are not single parent families.”

She continues: “I’ve always had a passion for the Caribbean. I also strongly feel that the Caribbean is not strongly represented as widely as it could in the UK or anywhere in the world, in all fairness. I feel when we are represented in any kind of form then it’s for all things negative or it is for things like sport or music and we have so much more. We have a fabulous culture and heritage that could be celebrated and should be celebrated.”

Ms Flanders offers why she thinks Caribbean people in the UK do not celebrate their accomplishments enough.

“First of all, I think we need to put ourselves forward a bit more. Secondly, I think we are being eclipsed. Forgive me for saying this…I know that we have very strong closeness with Africa…but the terms like AfroCaribbean etc, I personally don’t like that term so when I see it on a form, I tick other because I am Caribbean.

“And I know there are strong links, but we have our own culture…our own identity and I feel we are being lost in other things. I think we need to stand up and say: This is us, this is the Caribbean, we have our own unique strong culture, our own unique heritage, let us celebrate that. Let us not be eclipsed by anything else.”

However, Ms Flanders acknowledges that there are people in the British Caribbean community who denounce their roots—something she hopes will change in the future.

“It starts in the home. If you’re not taught or shown things about your culture and heritage from home, or if it’s not taught in school, then you will feel disconnected. I’ve spent lots of time in Grenada. I am a part of a strong Caribbean community, so I don’t just link in with Grenada only and I think that’s it’s important that we know where we come from.

Like Marcus Garvey says, ‘A people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.’

“People need to know about their culture and I feel that’s why it’s such a strong disconnect between them. There are some who will say I’m not from the Caribbean, I’m African and I think, okay, fine we all may have started from Africa but we all have our unique heritage.

“I’ve had people say to me why not include Africa (in the Awards), and someone even asked me why I am using the term Black because Black means all people. But I said Black fits in with the spirit of the annual ball and that’s where the two link. Black doesn’t mean that I include everyone.
When you think of White you don’t just think of all White people; all White people still have their unique cultural heritage.

“Look at the UK. England, Ireland, Scotland. They all identify as different. They all have their different traditions, different customs, different heritage, but at the end of the day they are all still a part of the United Kingdom.

“We can still be part of the big picture, but we can still be our own unique part within that wider picture.”

Ms Flanders says a person doesn’t have to be in the spotlight to be considered for an award: “The whole idea of the Awards is to recognise people who are doing good things, even quietly. It’s about ordinary, everyday people doing well, serving their community. We want to say thank you, we acknowledge you, we see you. Thank you.”

For further details on the Spirit of The Caribbean Annual Ball and the Black Honour Awards visit .

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