Celebrating ‘Saluting Our Sisters’ in Black History Month

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Home » Celebrating ‘Saluting Our Sisters’ in Black History Month

As we enter Black History Month this year, I want to share my personal journey, which is deeply rooted in African heritage, Caribbean culture, and British upbringing. It’s a journey of gratitude, advocacy, and a celebration of ‘Saluting Our Sisters’ – the theme for this year’s Black History Month.

I was born in South Yorkshire, to parents who made a life-altering decision to relocate to London. Their aim was simple: to provide my sister and I with the best opportunities they were never afforded. I am eternally grateful for the sacrifices they made, which continue to shape my life.

Growing up, I couldn’t help but feel a disempowering sense of not being seen or heard. As a young girl, I struggled to find black women role models who looked like me. It was only when I watched powerful figures like Whitney Houston on television that I truly understood the significance of representation. It reinforced the notion that diverse voices and experiences are pivotal in all aspects of life.

My journey led me to pursue a career in healthcare. I embarked on my educational journey in Bedfordshire and lived in Luton during that time. Over the years, I’ve accumulated over two decades of experience in healthcare. But this journey has not been without its challenges. I’ve faced microaggressions and misogynoir, which have underscored the importance of recognising intersectionality on the path to true equality.

I am proud to serve as an Associate Non-Executive Member of the BLMK ICB and now, as Chair of the Working with People and Community Committee (WWPAC). My passion lies in amplifying the voices of all local people, especially those from ‘seldom heard’ groups. I firmly believe that these voices should be at the heart of all our decision-making within BLMK ICS. While there’s always more work to be done, I am pleased that we are making positive changes in the right direction.

As we celebrate Black History Month this year with the theme ‘Saluting Our Sisters,’ I take a moment to reflect on the contributions of my foremothers. Their courage, strength, and resilience have played a pivotal role in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities. I also want to acknowledge the many local black women colleagues and leaders within our BLMK ICS system who continue to make an immense impact.

To all my fellow sisters, I want to say, “I see you; I salute you!” Your strength and resilience inspire us to continue the fight for equality and representation.

Black History Month is a time for all of us to come together and celebrate the diversity, strength, and richness of our black heritage. It’s a reminder that while we’ve made significant progress, there’s more work to be done. Let us all remember the importance of representation, advocacy, and acknowledging the contributions of black women in our history and present.

As we ‘Salute Our Sisters’ this month, I encourage you to reflect on how you can advocate for the black woman’s voice and provide allyship in your respective roles. Together, we can continue to make positive change and create a more inclusive and equitable world. “I see you; I salute you!”

Lorraine Mattis, Associate Non-Executive Member, BLMK ICB

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