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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 5. Did anyone think this through?


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Did anyone think this through?

NHS England’s Conference – 27 July 2013 – The Drum, Birmingham

(12:45. The women meet Sankofa for a quick huddle.)

Sankofa: ‘Thanks for coming, ladies, I really do appreciate you all. Mmara has been quite prescriptive about what I can and can’t ask, but I’ve got your points for exploration and I’ll try to get in as many as I’m able to. More importantly, I will try to get information that can assist us in making sense. Wish me luck!’

(Women voicing encouragement and affirmation.)

GyeNyame: ‘Quickly everyone, I would like to suggest that at the next session we look at our experiences of “getting through”. We agreed that we would go ahead though only half the group will be present. I would also like to suggest that the next session is held in a home … what do you think? If you are willing, I could open my home for it. Is that okay?’

Bese Saka: ‘I won’t be there, but I’ll send my thoughts.’

Nsoromma: ‘Me too.’

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