Queen's Honours Awards
Reflecting on June's journey in my work of girls and women empowerment I humbly received the honour of a BEM award from the Queen's Honour birthday list, this prompted me to do a blog post to share the importance of accepting awards and why one should. Whilst working to support women and girls in the community is a vocation and not expectant of awards, there is also a joy of being celebrated and your work recognised. The Prime Minister officially acknowledges the panel's shortlisted candidates, after the government hands them over to the Queen who has the final approval. Why would one dismiss the awards under Order of the British Empire? Well, one reason Black Asian and Ethnic Minorities, BAME people do not accept these awards is because of the title being associated with empire?
Poet activist writers such as Benjamin Zephaniah turned down the OBE honours in 2010, mentioning the word Empire makes him angry and the damaging effects of colonialism. Another poet George the Poet from the London borough of Brent rejected his MBE honour in 2019 because of the connection to the trauma of imperialism. Contrary to their opinions author Bernardine Evaristo feels that writers of colour are excluding themselves by not accepting the awards, and it will limit honours to white recipients only. Much debate has been on changing the honour name from Empire to Excellence, and I feel that would be a powerful solution enabling acceptance of awards for all deserving authors, artists and activists.
Receiving awards helps platform writers in a competitive industry so in my humble opinion it is wise to accept awards if they are in alignment with my work mission. The honour awarded me for my services to empower girls and women, in my writing and community work in the UK and abroad, and I see no reason to shy away from an award, it is a symbol of an empowered woman being celebrated. However, the awards would do well to change the name from Empire to Excellence. Change is necessary always, and as we endeavour to campaign for change in school inclusion which my last two posts (race and school inclusion and why inclusion is failing) discuss, the highest institutions could do with a change in the title in the future.