A couple of weeks ago I got the chance to spend a quiet hour with a colleague, it gave me the chance to really talk to her about what she did.
Debbie, a fellow twitter user and blogger, and I properly met on a course this year. I knew Debbie by face, name and through her social media profile but I really didn’t understand her role. Through the course and conversations we had on it I started to feel that there was something about her role I did not fully understand.
So, typical INFJ, I went away and read other blogs and listened to others talk on the radio. I also followed twitter hashtags and news stories really trying to expand my thinking to test my emotional response to what I had heard from Debbie against the evidence.
I am a middle aged, white male with a middle class upbringing. However I like to think of myself as open minded as is possible. I have worked as a nurse in healthcare for 25 years, throughout that time I have worked with and cared for people from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of views. I work with a predominantly female workforce, I felt that I saw all things equal. I felt that all my colleagues also thought in the same way.
I could not see why, within the NHS, with all of its colour and diversity there was a need for raising conversations about equality and diversity.
As I talked to Debbie. I got to hear the stories from staff that Debbie had been told aswell as her own experiences. I learnt how people in the Trust I worked for felt they were not included, that they were not part of the Trusts developing journey.
I really struggled to fit this it into what I felt was the Trusts ethos. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe her, it was more that I couldn’t believe anyone in the Trust would act in that way. Then the phrase ‘from an area of priveledge’ came up…I had to take a good long look at myself….that phrase described me.
I knew what racism and segregation was but had not seen it or been on the receipt of it in work.
I knew that people are treated differently for their beliefs and values, but had never witnessed it myself.
It started to dawn on me why I didn’t see the need for it. After a long coffee we went our separate ways but I couldn’t shake the thoughts Debbie had sparked in me.
The following weekend was Glastonbury, and like many other greater people than me have commented, Stormzy blew me away with his performance and messages. As a teenager I used to have to wait until 2 in the morning for the Tim Westwood show to come on before I could get to see my heroes rap and spread their political messages. It was so good to see this on mainstream television at prime time with some powerful messages for the world to see.
So the thoughts didn’t stop. A weekend listening to his music whilst camping with my sons and friends learning their wisdom added to its impact.
The next week I met with the Trusts lead for the LGBT network diversity lead who was launching a pledge for inclusivity across the Trust. My team and I pledged to Promote an environment that is open, tolerant and inclusive….
I learnt a lot through music and reading growing up, Chuck D, KRS 1 and Neil Gaiman shaped my views of the world. I’ve continued that journey and learnt through my friends, colleagues and experiences trying to see different views of the world, but I think I’ve missed something.
Debbie certainly made me rethink some of my misconceptions. To use the opportunities I have learnt and gained from to help others. Thank you Debbie.