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Statement from a WILPF UK member on Black Lives Matter

It is refreshing to see so many written accounts about Racism and politics, as for far too long when debates on Racism are being spoken about, many times others may want to talk on behalf of Black people’s personal experiences. I personally feel that we do need to discuss the lack of Black representation, whether that be in politics, medicine, teaching, law, police, business ownership or political spaces and yes why can’t we one day have our first elected Black Prime Minister in the UK! 

For far too long others have spoken up for us as Black people, the political elites have told us about what they think Black people’s needs are, without experiencing Black people’s plight or truly collectively speaking to our communities! So many people now want to talk about Black people’s pain and pretend that they understand or are true allies: “Black pain for other political gains” I call it. 

Before the murder of George Floyd and the countless commissions I, for one, have lost count of, I have always known who my true allies were! The same way I knew the folks who actually appreciated my opinions and would listen to my cries of structural Racism and discrimination. For far too long others have taken credit for Black achievement or excellence.  As Dawn Butler has articulated so well on many platforms, it’s about time we have Black people in all places of industries, from jobs needing no qualifications to highly qualified positions. I personally believe we have volumes of good abilities in the Black community as do our white or Asian counterparts and need to be equally represented.

I personally want to see more allies speak up for Black people to bring fundamental change across the divide! I want to see more Black representation in all industries and I would love to see more Black faces in all spaces as we are just as talented, skilled and capable of carrying out various activities like our white or Asian counterparts. Some are afraid of quotas but I say roll them out! Research and internal audits have shown a lack of representation of Black people within our places of employment, in all sectors and especially in media outlets. We need to give back hope to the many young Black people and children growing up in the world, that they too can make a fundamental change and difference in the world for the better and if they so desire!

In my lifetime, I have learnt about History and many individual stories, but hardly none about my African Ghanaian ancestry. It was thanks to my active role in a WILPF production that I was given the opportunity to play Mary Church Terrell, a civil rights activists who was chosen to go to Zurich to address the International Congress of Women about lack of representation, inequalities of women and the need to stop warfare. She was a leader in her own right, but I do not recall being taught about her achievements in my schooling years.

No more commissions or articles being written through the eyes of others, I would just like to see a systemic change in how Black people are perceived within society. If we all truly believe in equality, then let’s embrace true diversity and differences by giving more spaces to Black faces – this will be the right result! 

Last weekend I stood on stage in my local Borough and discussed my personal experiences of growing up and always feeling inadequate, when often overqualified, or overlooked because of the colour of my skin. However, I truly believe that as hundreds have taken to the streets to chant Black Lives Matter, the time has come that one voice will no longer be invisible. As many Black and white people united in Solidarity on Saturday 13th June 2020, they chanted to eradicate Racism by truly Decolonising Education. To achieve this we will need more conversation on Racism to take place in all our schools and places of work.

Let’s unite to fight Racism in all its forms!

Thank you for reading,

Valerie A Bossman-Quarshie  June 18th 2020

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