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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 7. Bittersweet realisation – hope we are the last


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Bittersweet realisation – hope we are the last

Final meet-up in the Frantz Fanon Lecture Theatre, 2nd floor in the University of Westmoreland

The first arrivals wait for the others in the staff car park where Mama B reserved parking spaces. For many, this campus setting makes them uncomfortable. As the group walk up the corridor they discuss some of the emotions racing around their minds and bodies: doubt, anxiety and fear. These emotions were both uninvited and unexpected so they choose instead to focus on aspects of resilience building, camaraderie and the fact that they now possess some insider knowledge.

They arrive at the lecture theatre which is spacious with large windows. Some head to the windows through which they see a range of sculptures, probably erected by students past and present. Akoben announces that the circle discussion, they had grown to love would never work in this space. On a large table at the front of the theatre was a finger buffet with an assortment of sandwiches, veg sticks, hot and cold drinks and fruit. The women looked at the display, totally unimpressed. They speak, but only hushed, undecipherable mutters can be heard. Sankofa appears distracted and disconnected from the group. She walks over to a large portrait of Franz Fanon hanging from the wall at the rear of the theatre, beneath the portrait is the following quote:

The imaginary life cannot be...

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