Sarah Maan, a palliative care registrar at Saint Francis Hospice, shares her realisation about absorbed racist attitudes during Black History Month this October.

When I first started working at Saint Francis Hospice in October 2020, I was touched by the welcoming and friendly nature of everybody I came across.

It made me feel at ease and settle the nerves of starting a new job.

Having grown up locally, it was comforting to work close to my childhood home. The icing on the cake was when I bumped into a long lost friend during a shift on the ward. She was working at the hospice as a healthcare assistant and reconnecting this friendship warmed my heart.

I felt familiar with the demographic of patients we serve and could finally relax into my east London accent.

A few months into my role as a palliative medicine registrar, I became involved in a research project looking to understand the experiences of our black, Asian and other minority ethnic service users, in the hope that we can understand and cater to their cultural needs and make our service more diverse, inclusive and accessible.

This is an ambition I’m sure many of us share.

Barking and Dagenham Post: Sarah Maan is pleased Saint Francis Hospice is celebrating Black History MonthSarah Maan is pleased Saint Francis Hospice is celebrating Black History Month (Image: Saint Francis Hospice)

I’m so pleased to see that as an organisation we are choosing to honour and celebrate Black History month, giving us an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the too-often neglected accomplishments of our black community.

For me, it’s also a time to be silent, listen and reflect on the role I have played in anti-blackness.

Having the courage to admit that I have absorbed racist attitudes towards black people, and knowingly or subconsciously acted on these, is hard.

This realisation sits uncomfortably, but this is the first step towards change.

True introspection will lead to progression. Thinking about the occasional gaslighting, micro-aggressions and casual racism that I have faced as a person of colour and reflecting on how this can be a daily occurrence for black people in all facets of society has motivated me to champion diversity.

I can see that there is a very visible move towards inclusivity. Representation matters. We have a long way to go but I’m hopeful that by taking steps in the right direction, working together and being open-minded, we can get there.

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