British Army’s tone deaf tweet for Black History Month sparks outrage

This Black History month started with a fiery debate after the official British Army Twitter page posted a since deleted viral tweet about its Black History Month campaign that appeared to only include and celebrate the contributions South Asian soldiers. The tweet was met with confusion and annoyance from Twitter users who corrected the British Army on the meaning of Black History Month.

After being met with backlash for excluding black individuals from Black History Month the British Army Twitter page doubled down on the tone deaf tweet by posting another tweet that read: ‘We missed a trick here, we didn’t explain that #blackhistorymonth has expanded to include the history of Asian people and their contributions too. Hence our recognition of our historic partnership with the Indian Army which also features our BAME Champion @UrchTyrone @adgpi’. 

Black History Month originated in America during the early 20th century. In the UK it is a month long celebration of the contributions and achievements of African and Caribbean people to British history that is marked with various events that take place across the country. The event was first celebrated in 1987.

One Twitter user posted in response to the tweet saying, “There are 12 months in a year, black history month took up one month of the 12, but they want it to be BAME [black, asian and minority ethnic] month? WTF? Pick another month and make that Asian History Month, I’m sure a lot of Asians will appreciate it!!”

There has been a long debate about the inclusion of other minorities in Black History Month which critics feel is erasure. In 2016 the University of Kent’s student union faced days of backlash online for its choice to use the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and singer Zayn Malik who are both from Pakistani backgrounds as the faces of their Black History Month campaign. The blunder resulted in the Union President at the time being forced to issue an apology.

In a comment given to indy100, an army spokesperson said, “We regret the offence caused by the tweet yesterday. Throughout October we are celebrating Black History Month, including highlighting the crucial role black soldiers have played serving in and with the British Army. Like many organisations and media outlets, our content also featured historical links with persons from Asian backgrounds.”

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