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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 8. Sankofa’s reflection and guidance


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Sankofa’s reflection and guidance

Sankofa arrives home exhausted but equally exhilarated, she puts away the bags and books. She changes into her yard clothes, sets up the coffee machine and heads off to the patio. She plans an all-nighter as she wants to capture as much of the session’s reflections as she can whilst it is still fresh. She decides to take a short break so she lowers herself into the rocking chair. The garden is tranquil, the moon is full. Staring at the stars she slowly drifts into a state of semi-consciousness. As she drifts she dreams …

A tiny, dark skinned, white haired, character appears. She is pencil thin with big eyes and lovely white teeth. She is draped in crisp Kente cloths and speaks with a quiet voice. She introduces herself as Akoko Nan. She explains that she is an ancestral parent and, in fact, that is exactly what her name means. She informs Sankofa that she has come to help her with her reflections on this leg of her journey.

Sankofa: (Contemplatively.) ‘What has it all been about?’

Akoko Nan: ‘What, my child?’

Sankofa: ‘This whole journey, you know my last half decade. Life, power, exploitation, superiority, inequalities, failure, inferiority, injustice, fear, silencing, subordination, life … what is it all about?’

Akoko Nan: ‘Tell me, my child, what have you found?’


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