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19 October 2021
Diversity, disparity and inclusion

Jacqui MacDonald-Davis, MA trustee and Chair of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic network, discussed what Black History Month means to her.

Black History Month is about remembering the many thousands of contributions made by Black people across the UK and in fact the world.

Black History Month is about inclusivity, inviting the nation to celebrate with the black community.

I’d rather Black History was not simply celebrated in October, and that it formed part of the school curriculum and that the achievements of the black community was reflected (not as tokens) but  in  statues, art, technology, education drama and science as well as music and sports.

I want Black History Month to cover the full spectrum, I want my colour to be visible, not invisible, where my difference is acknowledged and my achievements celebrated.

As magistrates I want us to celebrate the fact that was Britain’s first black magistrate and a campaigner for social justice and equality for all. His endeavours as a magistrate began in 1962 in Nottingham and continued until he retired 29 years later in 1991.

There are so many black firsts in the UK from Mary Seacole, Bishop Wilfred Wood, Jean Augustine, Dr Oliver Lyseight, Mary Prince, Diane Abbott, Sir David Adjaye, Valerie Amos, Bernie Grant, Paul Boateng, Stuart Hall, Darcus Howe, Claudia Jones, Kwasi Kwarteng, Stormzy, Lord Simon Woolley, Sir Kenneth Olisa & David Lammy to name but a few.

Black History Month is about contributing to a changing world. Along with our allies it is about making a difference, it is about speaking up, and speaking out about injustices.

Black History Month is about black people recognising our power, ensuring we have a seat at the top table, it’s about working with the hand which we are dealt.

My parents spoke about the company we keep as influencers, to see challenges as opportunities and after a few minutes of moaning, would ask, what next?

The Magistrates Association is working to recognise and bring together magistrates who are also members of groups who they believe to be underrepresented within both the MA and the magistracy, as a whole. They have formed Diversity and Inclusion Networks, that is, Young Magistrates, Magistrates with Disability, LGBT+ and Black Asian and Minority Ethnic magistrates (BAME) allowing each network to meet and discuss issues specific to them. Not forgetting the intersectionality across each network – that is, magistrates can be young, have a disability, LGBT+ as well as be Black.

Currently 13% of magistrates identify as BAME, 8% of court judges and 12% of tribunal judges identified as BAME (2020 figures).BHM is a reminder what can be achieved as a collective. That we (as black people) have the power to change things, through networking and connecting.

It is important as a society, to honour the dignity of difference and bridge that which divides us. As Bob Marley says: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”

BHM is about hope, self-worth, potential, optimism and courage.

Jacqui MacDonald-Davis JP sits on the Central London Bench. She is a Member of the MA Board of Trustees, Deputy Chair of the MA Training Learning and Development committee, and Co-Chair, MA Diversity and Inclusion, Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic Network. She sits on the Judicial Appointments Commission as an independent panel member.