Show interest in what it means to be proud to be Black
As we continue our reflections and discussions during Black History Month, I want to continue to encourage all professionals working with children and young people in the family courts to show interest in their experiences, especially in what it means to be proud to be Black.
If you were to meet an aspiring Black adolescent girl who is fuelled with indignity due to the abuse she has been exposed to, who wants to be an MP to address issues of violence against women, are you able to share a healthy discussion, to enable her to feel empowered, about Dianne Abbott, the first Black female MP? Ms Abbott was the first Black woman elected to Parliament, and the longest-serving Black MP in the House of Commons. This person will feel pleased that you have shown an interest and some knowledge in what is special and unique about her and her ambitions. You will likely have contributed to her feeling proud to be Black.
If you complete a storyboard with a 10-year-old Black child, who is a good writer and pleased that it is not only her teachers who have noticed her talents, are you able to share your love, or at least your knowledge, of Bernadine Evaristo? Her eighth book Girl, Women, Other jointly won the Booker Prize in 2019. This 10-year-old child will likely reflect on an interesting moment with you, which has enabled her to feel proud to be Black.
And if a 12-year-old boy tells you what is happening to him and his family, that his grandfather must return to the Caribbean even though he has been here since he was eight years of age, are you able to empathise and share that you listened to a programme about the Windrush Generation, hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald? Sir Trevor was knighted for his services and contribution to journalism; he represents being proud to be Black.
And finally, if you are due to meet a 14-year-old teenage boy of African heritage born in London, who reveals his pride in his mother who is a maths teacher at a local school, are you able to share with him your admiration for Betty Campbell, the first Black woman to become a headteacher in Wales, whose statue was unveiled on 29 September 2021 in Cardiff? Because you acknowledged with a measure of admiration another Black teacher who was a pioneer and a rule-breaker, an educator, community leader and race relations campaigner who met Nelson Mandela, did you spot that agreeable smile on the teenager’s face as he exhibited what it is to feel proud to be Black?
Despite the difficulties we know Black people have, and continue to, face, we know that this child who sits before you central to your Together assessment has a grandmother, mother, father, brother, or sister who have succeeded due to determination, their love, with admiration and never-ending pride. We’re here today because we stand tall on the shoulders of many a person who has risen and demonstrated a positive, long-lasting contribution to Britain despite challenges too often faced. We’re proud to be Black.
This is the first of two blogs from Kaleidoscope network Chair, Carol Hazelwood-Morris for Black History Month 2021. The Kaleidoscope network is our network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff.