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Black Women’s Narratives of NHS Work-Based Learning: An Ethnodrama

The Difference between Rhetoric and Lived Experience

Peggy Warren

This is an eight-scene drama portraying black women reliving their journey through higher education and work-based learning. Black women’s voices are the focus, reflecting on the complexities and dynamics of institutional power, professional exploitation, silencing, subordination and non-transformative education. A black feminist standpoint theoretical approach with an autoethnographic presentation invites the reader into the camaraderie, emotions, tears and laughter of a cohort of mature black healthcare workers engaging in a foundation degree with a promise of promotion. The author captures the voices of the women, weaves in her own account and sets the stories in fictional locations. Using cultural sayings, black philosophy and black music in a creative way, this work offers a platform from which to start discussions on black women’s labour in the NHS.

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Scene 3. We really wanted to be nurses


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We really wanted to be nurses

Mama B: (Stands in the centre of the circle, shuffling reams of paper.) ‘So to commence, we are going to throw out a wide question. How did you come to apply for university and the foundation degree or the “Band 4 course”? Who’ll start?’

Bese Saka: ‘Shall I? When I heard about it, I thought … why not build up my skills and get recognised for what I do? It was an opportunity and a way to get closer to nursing. My manager though, she was like: “Oh, I don’t know if the Band 4 is going to work in this department.” Blah, blah, blah, she wasn’t enthusiastic. She did everything to put me off. I had to phone the course organisers and ask them to tell me my rights ’cause I didn’t want to miss the opportunity.’

Akoben: ‘Girl, I thought it was just me, I also had to fight for my place … to be honest, a couple of girls on my ward had done it and I was like, so wha’ dis course everybody a talk ’bout and a go pan … how come I never hear about it? So, it’s like they selected who they thought … so I asked why wasn’t I offered a chance to go? I spoke to my manager an’ she goes: “you have to wait two years until the others have finished.” I told...

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