This blog is written by Alicia Rowley, Community Commissioning and Contract Manager at NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG.
Hello! I am Alicia and I recently joined the Community Commissioning team, although have worked in commissioning since joining the Nottingham City PCT in 2009.
I’m sure many of you know that CCG staff has recently created a BAME network. I am a member of the network and I’ve been asked to write a blog post to mark the start of Black History Month. In a year of unprecedented changes, upheavals and rapid learning for everyone on a number of levels, I hope I am in good company to share…
So here goes – I am introducing myself to you all, whether for the first time or again, to share with you that #Mynamereallyis Alicia-Maria. That was easy. It means “noble” and I am named after my maternal great-grandmother Alice and in Spanish because my grandmother on my father’s side was Cuban. Click on the link to see the launch video of this interesting campaign.
Like many others, my multi-racial identity is something I try to minimise in conversation with my white colleagues, as I don’t want anyone to feel awkward or uncomfortable. That is just my honest perception of the situation. I think we all struggle with the ‘right’ language sometimes. But the fixation with language becomes a barrier and stops us from talking about the real issues – and from finding out some interesting, enriching and enlightening stuff!
So. Why am I telling you this? I think recent events in more ways than one, have brought us to a point where we need to come together. I deeply care about finally coming to the table this Black History Month. If not now, then when? I confess, I have not invested the time to learn my history well.
Most of us have at least some understanding of what the US Civil Rights movement achieved in the 60s, or are familiar with narratives about Rosa Parks or Mary Seacole here in Britain. Mary Seacole authored a book in her lifetime, it sounds fascinating Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands and I plan to read it! And in Britain in 2020, how many more stories are there! I found this quote in a blog recently and I think it’s really relevant this month, “for every Martin Luther King Jnr story being told, there are countless other Black narratives that are being overlooked.”
This month it is Black History Month and since its inception in 1987, I have not really taken up this open invitation to learn something. 2020 will be different and I intend to start filling the gaps in my knowledge. I am setting out on a personal journey to ‘do it’ this year…
Please do as I have and give yourself permission to ask or tell someone about Black History, any angle is fine. As it is, I only know my family specific history, and not enough about social or political history of black and minority ethnic people in Britain, from all backgrounds. This will be the year I start to fix that.
Whatever your passions are in life, follow them to find out something new. Whatever most speaks to you as an individual – music, radio, comedy, TV, seek out something that celebrates people of colour during Black History month.
Do it for yourself. Expanding our experience and understanding is a very personal thing, there is no getting it wrong in my book, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. It is 31 days, start with one thing, who knows where it will lead: https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/
Some recommendations if you’re looking for ideas
Films – Hidden Figures, Blackkklansman, Black Panther
TV catch up – The School that Tried to End Racism (Channel 4), Sitting in Limbo (BBC)
Books – Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge