What Black History Month means to me – Kyeiyanne James

Throughout the month of October the Trust has been marking Black History Month by unveiling members of staff who have been nominated by colleagues for championing BAME causes. To end October, there will be a series of short blogs from our BAME colleagues to explain what Black History Month means to them. Kyeiyanne James is our BAME Network Chair and explains what the month means to her…

Kyeiyanne (left) with Rez Rogers

Black History Month (BHM) is usually an opportunity to proudly shine a light on the Black diaspora’s multifaceted histories and unsung historical figures. Black History Month to all of us should always encourage us to recognise our past, evaluate our present, and plan for our future.

As the BAME Chair at UHP, Deputy Chair Rez Rogers and I have reflected on 2020 to 2021. The pandemic has shown and allowed all of us to see and feel a pain like no other. It also gave us a joy and love upon returning to our loved ones. Our strength has always been our unity – it lightens the load we all share. And yet though, we cannot become what we do not see. What we have within the Trust are resilient, tenacious, and kind individuals who have gone above and beyond. 

In honour of this for BHM 2021 and for those who have suffered from the pandemic, we’ve asked staff from all areas in the Trust to nominate an ethnically diverse colleague who is a living hope of who we can all hope to become. This will galvanize and serve as a reminder of the tremendous work that we all do together and will continue to do each day, week, month, and years to come. 

Black History Month to me is about celebrating our differences and acknowledging our similarities. Of course, we cannot and should never forget our black pioneers who came before us,  who accomplished a lot just like our white counterparts. Black History Month has given us a global platform to visually showcase the immense progress we have made from pre- colonialism. It is where we can authentically be ourselves, educate people and build discussion on how we can progress together towards racial equality.

When we are talking about diversity, it’s not a box to check and tick. It is a reality that should be deeply felt, held, and valued by all of us.

Ethnically diverse staff and allies have worked so hard together this last year to build so many visible positive changes. From the Trust’s anti-racism statement, the Cultural Calendar, changes in recruitment policies, changes within the Medical School and of course the birth of the BAME Network. 

Because our Trust serves a very diverse community, in our commitment to understand and serve you, we began collaborations with the Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council (PDREC). Collaborating with PDREC has significantly helped us to understand what the gaps within the community are and how we can close those gaps.  None of these changes would have been made or sustained without you highlighting them.  

Thank you to all our allies from the Executives, Non-Executives, Equality Diversity and Inclusion team, the Communications Team, and all staff and colleagues, but most importantly the BAME Network members. We are all leaders because each one of us has the capacity to translate vision into reality.

The BAME Network is looking forward to matching the same energy of those that came before us and leaving an impact that is greater than ourselves.

Kyeiyanne James

BAME Network Chair

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