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As Black History Month 2023 unfolds, it's a time of reflection, celebration, and education about the contributions and experiences of Black individuals in the UK. This year's theme, “Saluting Our Sisters”, highlights those who had their contributions ignored, ideas appropriated, and voices silenced. While we celebrate the achievements and recognise the struggles, it's also vital to share personal stories that shed light on the everyday experiences of Black individuals in the workplace.

When I reflect on my experiences, several instances stand out. I recall a job interview where I was warned about a colleague's racism. On another occasion, my friend Natalie went for an interview, and when HR saw her and called her name, they were taken aback that she was black. They had assumed from her name, which they perceived as white. They didn't even proceed with the interview, simply telling her they had made a mistake.

This incident with my friend occurred at a prominent industrial company in our hometown of Wolverhampton. It was the early 2000s – not the 1960s – and yet, when I heard of Natalie’s experience, I wasn’t surprised. My mum came to the UK from Jamaica in the early 60s to work as a nurse. It was the same decade that Wolverhampton MP Enoch Powell delivered his infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech in Parliament. Powell vehemently opposed immigration, especially from the Commonwealth countries. This speech has left a lasting impact on the Black community in Wolverhampton, where I grew up.

In another instance, I attended a job interview and was forewarned that a colleague might harbour racist views. When I secured the job and began working, that colleague indeed exhibited racist behaviour. When I reported the incident, I was gaslighted. I was told that the colleague was upset because I had reported him. Such responses are not uncommon, not just in cases of racism but also in instances of sexism.

However, my experience at Bromford has been a stark contrast. Over the past three years, I've received encouragement, training, and support. I've been respected in the workplace, irrespective of my gender or race. Bromford has been progressive in its approach to inclusivity, addressing various aspects like LGBTQ rights, Black History Month, and even topics like menopause.

Today, instances of racism persist. For example, a young Black gymnast from Northern Ireland was recently denied a medal, an incident that made headlines just this week. It's disheartening to witness such events still taking place.

In conclusion, while we've made progress over the years, there's still a considerable journey ahead. It's imperative to sustain the conversation and strive for a more inclusive and understanding society.