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Palma Black writes for Sounddelivery Media about creating a safe space for Black and minoritised women to gather without judgement

A recent racism row involving slurs against Diane Abbott MP shook the nation, dominating the news headlines. The slurs were revealed just as SDM Network’s Palma Black Soul Purpose 360 launched her new campaign Definition Redefined, to promote Black women’s empowerment. Palma Black has written specially for us….


The public could not have failed to witness the disgust at the treatment of Britain’s first, and longest serving Black woman member of Parliament, the pioneering Diane Abbott MP last week. From posts on all social media outlets, radio and TV interviews, to petitions and even huge public rallies held in support of her, not only were people angered about the racist comments and incitement to violence against her and all Black women, but they were further angered by the treatment of her at Prime Minsters Questions in the House of Commons, where yet again, the world witnessed a classic example of a Black woman being spoken about, rather than being allowed to speak for herself. 


As founder and CEO of a new national Black women’s empowerment organisation, Soul Purpose 360, I too was disgusted by the treatment of Diane.  She has long endured racial harassment and bullying and this incident was another in the long line of examples she has had to endure whilst representing a diverse community in Hackney. Something Soul Purpose 360’s members noticed too.  


The fact that all of this was happening at a time when we should have been celebrating International Women’s Day events and Mother’s Day, was not lost on any of us. As well as being racist the slurs were misogynistic too. Members reflected on their own personal experiences of racist and sexist discrimination drawing parallels with the gaslighting that Diane endured. Last week triggered us all.  Black women are not and do not feel safe. Members shared experiences of being racially targeted in the workplace, on the streets, in the NHS and Councils and more, throughout their lives. This is the soundtrack of our lives – many of us are still dealing with the trauma.


Racial harassment and violence have long-lasting effects on us and hamper our abilities to live fulfilled lives. Coaching sessions with my clients have revealed how these inaccurate assumptions have significant impacts, leading to feelings of being misunderstood, overlooked, or undervalued. Clients tell me that it affects their self-esteem, confidence, and wellbeing. These misconceptions are hurtful and frustrating, as they do not reflect the true essence of who we are as individuals. It is disheartening to constantly having to prove ourselves and break through these stereotypes in various aspects of our lives, whether it’s in the workplace, social settings, or even in personal relationships.


The past week has underlined exactly why Soul Purpose 360 is needed. It’s highlighted the type of negative narrative and stereotype that Soul Purpose 360 is motivated to challenge through our campaign #DefinitionRedefined. Not only are these narratives ignorant they are also dangerous. As Black women, it is common to experience the effects of inaccurate assumptions and negative stereotypes from colleagues and strangers alike. These assumptions can range from being labelled as ‘unprofessional’ or ‘uneducated’ to being seen as ‘aggressive’ or ‘angry’.


Opinions, views, and voices that go unchallenged affect every Black woman and puts us all in harm’s way, whether this is from racists on the street, bullies in the workplace, policy and decision makers and others who think it is okay to have a narrow view of Black women and girls. The reality is that it does not and will not cease unless action is taken, and examples set.


Black women face multiple levels of discrimination in all areas of our lives, yet we are supposed to turn a blind eye, take it and keep quiet or like some, simply go along with the ‘banter’ because it leads to an easier life. As Black women, we have to show resilience in the face of these challenges, rising above the stereotypes to prove our capabilities and worth, because we are held to a different standard than our counterparts. Soul Purpose 360 is committed to providing a safe space for Black and minoritised women to gather without judgement – a place where we can share our experiences and receive understanding rather than questioning the validity of our feelings. We want to see a collective response in support of our campaign that is about uplifting and empowering Black women.


This is why #DefinitionRedefined is so important. The negative narrative about Black women must come to an end, we must make it unacceptable and punishable for people to make direct or indirect death threats against a group of people. Why are Black women fair game? Is it because we are supposed to be ‘strong Black women’? It is possible for attitudes and perceptions to change. We have seen it with the gay rights campaigns – no one would dare mock a gay man now and think it is okay… Paradigm shifts are possible with concerted effort. We hope that the #DefinitionRedefined campaign will help society to evolve the discourse about Black women and move away from harmful stereotypes and assumptions, and instead recognise and celebrate diversity, talents, achievements, and resilience.


Watch this space!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Palma is the founder of Soul Purpose 360 CIC, a coaching, mentoring and training social enterprise for Black women; blending community development with personal development. She is a Personal Performance Coach who is passionate about empowering individuals to live fulfilling lives. Palma has decades of experience working in and with communities through her work in community development, urban regeneration and social enterprise in London and the south east. She is a mother to two daughters, and loves DIY, gardening, personal development, self-care and countryside hiking. Palma is part of our Spokesperson Network.


Instagram: SoulPurpose360

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