Black History Month – A message from the BME network


To mark Black History Month, the Chair of EEAST’s BME network, Tanoh Asamoah-Danso, has put together a message for staff.

Hi, my name is Tanoh, I’m a Paramedic, and currently the Chair of the East of England Ambulance Service BME network.

So, October see’s the start of Black History Month, and for us as a Trust, that gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the contributions and achievements of black people within the NHS over the years, and even specifically the accomplishments and contributions towards the East of England Ambulance Service.

Now, at the moment East of England still sits at about a 3% representation of black, Asian and ethnic minority staff within in our entire workforce. So, if that’s what our numbers are like now, the chances are there probably isn’t really much black history to even acknowledge.

So what I want to do is spin it, and discuss the history of the East of England Ambulance Service with regards to race and race related incidents, at least in my time as Chair of the network. So one of the things that I have noticed is that East of England does have this tendency of trying to conceal race or racist incidents.

For example, like the incident that happened at the Melbourn HART base 18 months ago where somebody had etched the National Front logo on to a table in the crew room. Now, the problem with trying to conceal things like that we firstly don’t get a chance to weed out the members of staff who think that that kind of behaviour is acceptable.

Secondly, we don’t get to actually compassionately support people who may have been directly affected by that incident. And thirdly, if we’re out here trying to conceal that kind of behaviour, how are we supposed to learn from it. In the exact same way that we try to be open and honest with clinical incidents in order to learn from them, we need to treat race and racist related incidents in exactly the same way.

Another thing that I have noticed is that we can tend to be quite dismissive of the negative experiences that our BME colleagues have in relation to race and racism. And the thing is, racism is not as overt as it once was. Just because we don’t hear the N word being shouted, just because we don’t see people swinging from trees or just because we don’t see flaming crosses on the fronts of our gardens it doesn’t mean that racism has gone away. It is a lot more structured, it is a lot more subtle, it is a lot more institutional.

So, for the month of October what I want us to try and do is be a bit more compassionate to those who don’t look like us. I want us to, as a workforce, be open to looking within ourselves, looking at the privileges that we have and seeing how our privileges can help those who are in a bit more of a marginalised position that us. Looking at our own privileges and seeing how we can potentially be anti-racist.

And, to be fair, that could be something that gets opened up to other things, it doesn’t necessarily just have to be about race. It could be towards those with a disability, those with a different gender to us, those with a different sexual orientation that us, those with a different religion to us. If we’re able to look within ourselves and look at how we can amplify those who are more marginalised than us, it puts us in a more equitable position, we have a stronger workforce, a stronger more diverse workforce will automatically give us a better model of care to the community that we serve.


Published 25th October 2021

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