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Choose to Challenge

On International Women’s Day, I had the pleasure of speaking alongside @michelleoveens Baroness @tannigreythompson @matthancock @powellhowardalexis to the amazing F:Entrepreneur #ialso1002021 group of women that own amazing small businesses. The event was a celebration of greatness, gumption, and gutsiness. There was no doubt why these women had been selected this year by F:Entrepreneur.

In that moment it felt so wonderful to be part of the celebrations. I spoke a little about my journey and work but more importantly about my purpose.

To eradicate racism and for us to become a more equal society. It dawned on me that I was surrounded by such greatness and I wanted US to stand tall and lead the charge on stamping out this inequality. I felt if any bunch of women could do it, it would be this bunch coupled with a trailblazing bunch of property and Sistersnog women I know.

My plea is for us to stand together and call it out when we see it. Also let’s not shut the door on other women when we have gained a seat at the table. Let’s bring a fold up chair for another to join the conversation. Be reminded that women of colour are at a disadvantage and need YOUR participation and help to change that.

Over 100 years ago my ancestors could not breathe with chains around their necks as slaves. Only a few months ago George Floyd couldn’t breathe because he had a white police officer’s knee on his neck. Today we know that Meghan Markle suffered outright racism in the royal household. The palace ignored her mental health struggles because she was not like them. Like or loath her that is wrong and she chose to challenge it on IWD.

My point here is that : you can be an alleged petty fake money thief or a Royal – society still sees People of Colour as unequal.

I “Choose to Challenge” racism for International Women’s day which, I might add should be for much longer than a day!

Question why is this still happening today? What can you do about it? How can you guide your work colleagues, friends, children etc. What are you going to Choose to Challenge?

The Business of Black is a movement Marina Conway-Gordon and I founded to make these uncomfortable conversations more comfortable and to empower white people to call indifference out. I should just add that there are many black people that feel uncomfortable talking about this issue too. So let’s help each other. Join us on Tuesdays at 18:30 on Clubhouse.

Moving on

So this was me in December 2020 sharing with influencer extraordinaire @nsbremner a fellow property investor; mum, sailor and friend my thoughts for 2021. I got to share a bit about me; the things I’m passionate about, what I stand for as a business and as an individual, my thoughts on the property sector amidst the pandemic and more. 

Much still holds true. Enjoy!

All we need is love

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So it’s arrived. The month of lurve. Three days in and already it’s slipping by.

February is a month I love for many reasons:

  • January is over
  • It’s a short month
  • It’s Valentines
  • Direct Debit renewals for appliances and insurances all done
  • New Year’s resolutions are a thing of the past (and if not, happy days)!

However, it is also a month that has caused me much pain over the years. The 11th being the day of my mum’s passing all those years ago when I was only 16.

So back to celebration. Let me share with you a property with a purpose.

Seneca Road was a two bedroom flat in desperate need of a refurb. The project took 8 weeks to complete which was pretty impressive. I’d initially planned for it to be a 4 to 5 month renovation. With investors involved that made me even more determined to drive this project forward at great speed to exceed expectations.  

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So what did we do? We added additional space to the bathroom by doing away with an unnecessary ensuite; we took away the tiny kitchen and incorporated it into the lounge area; we updated the wiring, plumbing, central heating and paid attention to the finish. We maintained the traditional feel of the property (cornices, architraves and dado rails) and blended it into the refreshed contemporary look of an integrated handleless kitchen. 

In a nutshell we increased the value of the property by turning a two bed into a three bed with a great garden accessed from both bedrooms and the kitchen. This achieved a decent additional uplift per month but more importantly the property was rented immediately to an organisation that houses young, vulnerable adults desperate for accommodation and they are making good use of the additional space. 

I always love before and after pics because it demonstrates the journey, the challenges and the end achievement.

If you want to learn, earn and get involved with a project like this. Get in contact.  

Click the link to see more of the renovation:

What does BAME actually mean?

The Business of Black room number 3 on Clubhouse yesterday did not disappoint. Yet another insightful discussion. I may even go as far as to say that it was the best room we’ve had so far in terms of numbers and content shared.  

The use of the terms ‘BAME’ and ‘POC’ were discussed. As you might expect the room came alive and shared many viewpoints about the label, while some may appreciate its use, others would rather be identified by their specific race and/or ethnic group. 

Highlights: 

  • Labels like POC and BAME can sometimes prove useful when discussing diversity and inclusion. A participant spoke about access to private schooling because she fell into the BAME category.  
  • Creating a separate category for non-white people serves to centre whitness as a ‘norm’ and those outside of that are ‘othered’
  • These terms are often used to tick a box and might not actually do much to promote diversity at all. Nothing follows after that tick has been made.
  • ‘I don’t see colour’ may be a problematic phrase but ideally we should be able to acknowledge each other’s differences without it causing a distinct divide
  • Focusing on our backgrounds rather than race/colour could be far more useful.
  • Putting us all together as ‘one’ forces a community that doesn’t exist. 
  • Racism within Race is also a thing.

Conclusion:

We are stripped of our true identity when clumped together with the use of the word BAME and it is not helpful.  It is however a quick fix way to present an illusion of diversity, inclusion and equality within the working environment or other.

That said at this point in time there were no other words that could sum us up nicely. Personally I question if we actually need a word?  What word is used for white Irish, Welsh and Scottish people as a clump?

Thoughts and comments below welcome.  Please help us to shift from our current position  by joining in the conversation next Tuesday on Clubhouse at 5:30pm. 

Does alerting people to their unconscious bias help or hinder?

The Business of Black does it again! Following another productive conversation on Clubhouse yesterday evening on unconscious bias, I wanted to round up some thoughts.  

If you are not on the Clubhouse app and missed it this is for you.

So what is unconscious bias? 

Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness (Unconscious Bias | diversity.ucsf.edu, 2021). 

Most, if not all, of us hold some sort of bias about another person or other people whether consciously or unconsciously and I think it’s very important to have real, honest conversations with each other about this because I find that it’s the more silent forms of racial bias that can be the most harmful. 

Despite living in the western world – where equality is championed and even entrenched in law it’s clear to see that there is still a lot of inequality in this same world, which is why we must interrogate and educate ourselves to unearth any prejudice we may have. Although unconscious bias is something that we can’t see, it is still felt – it shows itself in the workplace, the education system, the criminal justice system and so on. A report put together by the Equality and Human Rights Commission provided a lot of information and statistics that helps to provide insight into the impact of unconscious bias and what it looks like in society. I’ll include some of my findings below:

Employment

  •  On average, black workers with degrees earn 23.1% less than white workers
  • In Britain, only 8.8% of ethnic minorities hold senior management positions, with that rate being even lower for people from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds (5.7%), in comparison to white people with 10.7%
  • Higher unemployment rates for ethnic minorities (12.9%) in comparison to white people (6.3%)

Crime

  • Black people are 3 times more likely to be prosecuted and sentenced than white people
  • For sentencing, black people are more than twice as likely to receive a prison sentence in comparison to white people. 13 per thousand population for black people and and 5 per thousand population for white people
  • An article from BBC News stated that people from BAME backgrounds make up 25% of the prison population and 41% of the youth justice system in England and Wales despite only being 14% of the general population

Living standards

  • Evidence shows that 35.7% of ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty in comparison to 17.2% of white people.
  • In Scotland, ethnic minorities are more likely to experience overcrowding. With 11.8% for ethnic minority households compared with 2.9% for white people.

So what is the reason for unconscious bias? 

This is a question we all thought deeply about in yesterday’s clubhouse room and although this topic is far too vast to come to a definitive answer, there were a few interesting contributions. 

Three key takeaway thoughts were:

1. The media. Can have a negative effect on unconscious bias. Their creation of labels that they attach to certain groups of people can often feed into and develop a bias within their audiences. 

2. Upbringing. Your parents and the views of your family have already shaped your unconscious bias from a very young age. 

3. Neuroscience. We cannot control our unconscious bias as it is wired into our brains and that is why we have to keep talking about bias so that it does not just become normal; accepting our wired thoughts but that we challenge them before making decisions.  

There is so much more to say on this subject and The Business of Black @marinaconwaygordon and @lorrainethomas are going to have to have a follow up on this very subject. For now I’ll conclude on a lasting thought from the room. 

“In order to deconstruct the ignorant beliefs we may unknowingly hold towards others we must first question ourselves and our actions…..” It is now our responsibility to ensure that we aren’t contributing to or perpetuating a harmful system that aims to keep marginalised groups of people at a constant disadvantage.

Clubhouse every Tuesday at 5.30 pm The Business of Black.

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