Our Black History Month book club
Every month, the members of our colleague book club come together to discuss thought-provoking literature.
For Black History Month, we read ‘I Am Not Your Baby Mother’ by Candice Brathwaite. Part-memoir, part-social-commentary, it follows the author’s journey as a new mother, from discovering she’s pregnant through to naming her child and choosing a school.
Candice links her personal experience to the broader picture by focusing on a relevant statistic at the start of each chapter. Some of the shocking statistics included: ‘black British women are five times more likely to die in childbirth compared to white women’ and ‘45% of children from black and minority ethnic groups are in poverty compared with 26% of children in White British families’.
During the book club meeting, 15 of our colleagues reflected on the book and shared their own stories in response to the author’s experiences and the stats in each chapter.
As Candice says in the introduction: “I’ve desperately craved a space where I can discuss my motherhood journey, openly and honestly, all whilst capturing the original moments which make being a black British mother so unique.”
The book club offered a safe space where our colleagues could speak together openly and where everyone's views were valued. Hopefully it started a conversation that will continue beyond the book club.
Ijay Onyechi, our Director of New Homes and Customer Care, reflected on the discussion: “Exploring Candice's journey as a black woman reminded me of our collective responsibility to empathise with other people’s experiences. By better understanding the challenges and victories people face, we can work towards an equitable and inclusive society. One that’s devoid of discrimination, prejudice and racism."
Kell Byer, our Diversity and Inclusion Programme Coordinator, added: “The book is a powerful exploration of motherhood, identity and the black experience. It prompted so many discussions and I valued being able to speak openly with other people who read it.”
‘I Am Not Your Baby Mother’ was selected though a vote. As this year’s Black History Month theme is ‘Saluting our Sisters’, our Race Equality and Gender Networks put forward five book options by different black women. Then, around 50 colleagues voted for their preferred choice through our internal social media channel.
The book club was just one of many activities that have taken place during Black History Month. We’ve also hosted a colleague painting class, talk about women’s health, and a Q&A with the cast of ‘Dreaming Whilst Black’.
Celebrating Black History Month is an important opportunity to raise awareness of different experiences and cultures, and amplify conversations around equality. It forms a key part of our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.
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