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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 4. Getting to grips with power


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Getting to grips with power

It’s a wintery February evening in 2013. The women meet in a local church hall in Hockley, Birmingham. For sustenance, it is ‘bring and share’. Akoben’s responsible for the hot meats and she continues to showcase her momma’s recipes. Some brought hard dough bread, whilst others brought paper plates, cups and drinks. No one dared to bring alcoholic drinks into the ‘house of God’. Mate Masie unveiled her Jamaican fruit cake, preserved since Christmas. As she opens the box those nearby are hit with the aromas of rum and Red Label wine.

GyeNyame: ‘Wow, Mate, girl, I guess your message is, you don’t need alcohol in a bottle to enjoy it. Is how much alcohol yo’ put in dat?’

Mate Masie: (Walks away making a cross as though in confession.) ‘Not a lot, an’ I wouldn’t lie to you, ’cause I in the house of the Lord.’

GyeNyame: (Giving Mate Masie that ‘pull the other one’ look.) ‘Well you know what they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so if it tastes as good as it smells, save one big slice for me.’

The women serve themselves food and take their seats with food on laps and drinks at their feet as was their custom.

Pre-session chatter

Sankofa: ‘Mama B I have been living with a quote from...

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