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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 6. If only we had known


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If only we had known

(The doorbell rings at GyeNyame’s home, she opens.)

GyeNyame: ‘Hi, welcome to my humble abode. I see you’ve all arrived together.’

Nsaa: ‘Yeah, it was Akoben’s idea for us to travel together and I’m glad we did … I’m not sure I would have found it by public transport.’

Akoben: ‘Have you been baking GyeNyame? The aroma in here reminds me of bygone lazy days with the grandkids.’

GyeNyame: ‘I’ll take your coats, go on through to the living room and help yourselves to snacks and drinks … don’t be shy and let me know if you need anything else. I’ll join you in a minute.’

Mama B: (Grabs Sankofa’s arm.) ‘Let’s have a quick word. Sankofa, as we are in a home this evening we need to negotiate time as it can be so easy to get carried away because we are comfortable. Having said that, shall we ask the women how they want to work with the timing?’

Sankofa: ‘That’s true … okay, I’ll mention it. Welcome everyone, to use the time well, shall we start, I’m sure we’ll be okay to enjoy the cuisine as we share … is that okay, GyeNyame?’

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