Archives For Black British History

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘choose to challenge’ and as I sit here thinking of this there are so many challenges that come to mind. Women everywhere have had to challenge systems and expectations in order to live their lives. 

I’m thinking of:

  • Malala Yousafzai who challenged the traditional view of girls’ education in Pakistan. 
  • Brene Brown who is prepared to have those difficult conversations around shame and race.
  • Baroness Doreen Lawrence who fought for justice after the murder of her son Stephen – challenging the persistence of institutional racism. 
  • US Vice President Kamala Harris for daringly running for President. 
  • The Duchess of Sussex, Megan Markle, who in trying to stay sane and make a positive difference, is seen as challenging the Monarchy. 
  • Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, Beyonce Knowles, Naomi Campbell and Charlene White for forging their own path.
  • The many sisters, daughters, wives and mothers facing daily challenges.
Photo by Ibadah Mimpi via Pexels and Canva

Choosing to challenge is not an easy decision, there is often a cost. I know for myself and from my work as a counsellor that the pain of not challenging needs to be almost unbearable, so that challenging is seen as the best option. Few people challenge without cause. More often people adjust to suffering until they become unwell.

In my book, Black Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, 22 Stories of Passion Achievement and Success, you will encounter a group of women who are comfortable challenging systems and providing alternative perspectives. That is the nature of politics. They are motivated by their beliefs, values and political persuasion. 

One way to challenge a system or role is to be the first woman to do that thing.  You will read that Diane Abbott MP was the first Black woman to become a Member of Parliament. Helen Grant MP is the first mixed (Black and White) female Conservative MP. Chi Onwurah is Newcastle’s first Black and mixed Member of Parliament. Kim Johnson is the first Black MP in Liverpool. Claudia Webbe is the first female MP for Leicester East. Kim and Claudia became MPs in 2019 so this is not ancient history.  There are many places in industry, law, medicine, arts and education that can be challenged by brave women wanting more. 

Photo by Shirley Anstis. Taken at nearby sculpture park

In our everyday lives this could be standing up for a colleague or challenging inappropriate speech and behaviour in a loved one. It all requires courage. In surviving this pandemic many of us have had to dig deep and be more courageous than we’ve been before. We’ve been stronger and braver than we expected. We’ve also felt more vulnerable, and it takes courage to acknowledge that. Even introverts like myself have missed some social gatherings. We found out that we are imperfect and human! 

When you look ahead to 2021 is there anything you need to challenge in yourself or your environment? I think many more of us now have an appreciation for the simple life.  My challenge continues to be ‘less doing and more being’. Oh, and exposing my soul through my writing.

My book An A-Z for your life, discovering and revealing who you are today is a good place to start. Over to you.

This post is written to acknowledge the role of women in the world in honour of International Women’s Day 2021. The theme is  #choosetochallenge.  Co-ordinated by Attract Readers, https://www.attractreaders.com

Black British Members of Parliament in the House of Commons #book

Black MPs in the House of Commons.

An intriguing mix of success and struggle

Reading, Berkshire, January 2021

Envision Publishing announces the arrival of the paperback edition of Black Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, 22 Stories of Passion, Achievement and Success by Shirley Anstis. The book draws attention to the journeys of serving Black members of parliament: who they are, how they got there and their contributions so far.

The UK parliament is made up of 650 Members of Parliament. Of these, 22 are of Black British, African and Caribbean heritage, representing 3%.  Despite this small number they are making an impact and can be seen as role-models for another generation who may not know of them or their work.

It comes highly recommended by leading Black political figures Lord Simon Woolley and David Lammy MP.

I love this book. It’s simple, straight forward and yet at the same time fantastically complex. Above all, though it is wonderfully inspiring.’ Lord Simon Woolley in the Foreword

This is the first book of its type and captures a moment in time. The data covers the events of the recent past so MPs are quoted on the impact of the Grenfell Tower fire, the Windrush Scandal, Black Lives Matter and many more. Every October we have Black History Month in the UK and schools are unsure how to approach it, with many ignoring it altogether. Lockdown has given many people an opportunity to slow down and appreciate the unique experiences of different parts of society. This book educates and informs adults and young people at a time when everyone wants to know more and be an ally. 2021 is the year to follow through on the hopes of 2020.

Having worked with young people for 10 years Shirley Anstis knows how much they long to see successful people who look like them. By highlighting these 22 individuals Shirley Anstis gives the reader an insight into other successful people to expand their horizons and the future they desire for themselves. 

Some of these parliamentarians have dedicated their lives to party politics and representation whilst others have recently transitioned from a different career path. There are many ‘firsts’ included here. These include Diane Abbott as the first Black female MP, Helen Grant as the first mixed female Conservative MP and Kwasi Kwarteng as the First Black African Conservative MP. 

A fascinating collection of personal stories, struggles and successes….it inspires us to fight for more.’ David Lammy

‘Black MPs in the House of Commons…’ has been extensively researched using the House of Commons database Hansard. Media interviews and MPs own social media provide many opportunities to get quotes from them. This is not a critique but a celebration of people doing their best to act in accordance with their beliefs.

Get in touch with shirley@envisionpublishing.co.uk (mob:07809829914) for interviews and talks. You can order your copy on Amazon or direct from the author on www.livingbeingdoing.com/contact

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shirley Anstis MA., BSc. is an integrative counsellor in England. For more than 10 years she has been supporting her clients to work through their stories and live the life they envision. As a Careers Adviser she witnessed many young people struggling to find role models to give them hope for a successful future.  Her other books: An A-Z for your Life, Discovering and revealing who you are today’, and They Call Me…A look at nicknames in the Caribbean island of Grenada’, explore aspects of identity. Having lived in the Caribbean and the U.K. Shirley is aware of the complexity of our stories and explores this in her therapeutic writing workshops. Sample more of her writing on www.livingbeingdoing.com and contact her here for interviews, talks and collaborations.