Jenni Britten and Naomi Blake, Black Members’ Officers

Here is the latest blog post from Jenni and Naomi:

Hi, my name’s Naomi and I am one of your Black Members’ Officers, along with my colleague, Jenni Britten. As I’m sure all of you are aware, this year has been a particularly fraught time for many Black members of UNISON, myself included.

From the worldwide outrage and protests triggered by the brutal murder of George Floyd in the US, to the heartbreaking knowledge that here in the UK, healthcare workers of colour and their Black patients have been heavily over-represented amongst those whose lives have been lost to, or devastated by Covid-19, it has been a tough time to be a POC in the UK. Your Black colleagues in the workplace may need your support and solidarity now more than ever.

Throughout all this, what Jenni and I have sought to do, as newly in-post Black Members’ Officers for the branch, is to establish a positive and proactive program of education and campaigning in the branch, that will hopefully embed anti-racism as one of our branch’s core goals, both now and in the long-term.

One of the projects that I have put a lot of time into, partly as a form of self-care when I have felt powerless and frustrated by the news and being stuck indoors during the lockdown, is compiling a resource list from the huge amount of data that we were all being bombarded with at the height of the fervour and enthusiasm for the Black Lives Matter movement (of course, I don’t need to tell you that Black lives matter all year-round, whether they’re in the news or not). So, I present it here to you as a starting point if you’ve been feeling inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. This content is just what has been sent my way by organisations and individuals whose work I respect. That isn’t to say that it’s all politically consistent, or even that I’ve read/watched or reviewed all of it. But there is a lot of content on there that hopefully provides basis for action for anyone who is feeling inspired but might not know where to begin in terms of embedding anti-racism and a sensitivity to issues of race in their lives.

Another project the branch have been working on, as part of our celebration of Black History Month, is media and art recommendations from our members for those seeking to diversify the culture in their lives. Donating to worthy causes, protesting, campaigning, and advocating for your colleagues in the workplace are all-important, vital aspects of leading an actively anti-racist life. But another easy, enriching and positive thing we can all do is seek out more diverse perspectives and bring into our lives the work and experiences of those who often struggle to be represented in mainstream media. We can all benefit from broadening our horizons in this way. These lists will stay up year-round and will be updated, periodically. Find them here: “Diversify the culture you consume”.

As Black Members’ Officers we’re here for you, our members, and we seek to advance anti-racism and racial justice both in our workplace and in the wider world. So, please get in contact if you have ideas you would like to explore, campaigns you would like to contribute to, events you would like to see us host, or anything else.