Cohorted are committed to champion personalities who play an essential role in creating a positive impact on our everyday lives. In the run-up to the official launch of Cohorted’s ‘Essentials Edit’, our Music Artist Beauty Ambassador Elle L will be interviewing special guests who are taking the lead in the emergency response to events taking place in 2020.
For our second special guest-feature, we continue to delve into the important issues raised in 2020 with TV Personality and NHS Frontliner, Sarah Mulwinda. Sarah is best known for her role on E4’s ‘Sex Clinic’. She is also the former Fashion Editor of 1883 Magazine and most recently went back to her role as a trained Nurse to support frontline efforts, fighting the Covid-19 Pandemic. Part 2 of celebrating real-life heroes, Sarah and Elle L discuss the #BLM Movement.
Elle L In Conversation with TV Personality and NHS Frontline Nurse, Sarah Mulindwa
Part 2: Black Lives Matter #BLM
As a multi-talented woman coming from a British Ugandan heritage, what’s your personal reaction to the mass-protests demanding real change in the aftermath of George Floyd and other terrible incidents that are coming to light?
In light of the tragic murder of George Floyd by police officers, the reaction to the BLM movement has been exactly as it should have been for centuries. Unfortunately, it is not an isolated incident. The nature in which the event unfolded before our very eyes, shone a bright light on an issue that has been ongoing for far too long.
There has to be real systemic change and more honest conversations. We also need inclusion of the historical events that have lead to such racial injustice in the school syllabus. It starts with re-education. Like many black people, I feel that currently, the educational system doesn’t teach black history in its entirety. People need to learn about how and why slavery started, about colonialism, and understand the lived experience of POC. I feel a real shift is happening at the moment and I’m hopeful that it doesn’t just stop at a black square post on social media.
Have you ever experienced prejudice growing up or at work?
We really could be here all day if I recalled every situation. I’ve worked in several industries and as a black woman who is a minority, I’ve experienced and witnessed racism more times than I can count. What makes it worse is how downplayed it is. I’ve had, on several occasions, patients refuse to be treated by me or I have had certain photographers put their cameras down when I have walked the red carpet for media events. These are just two examples but racism is a global issue and the fact that we are opening up the conversation is a start.
How have you overcome challenges to help shape a successful career in the spotlight?
I often wonder where my career would be if my race wasn’t an issue. I just have to keep working ten times harder, because it’s not just about me, I have a responsibility to create space for those that will follow me.
How can we all play a part to ensure diversity is more positively represented and celebrated in society?
I think the best way to ensure all voices and faces are seen and heard is to have diversity represented right from the decision-making process. It’s all well and good hiring black models for your campaign but real systemic change comes from the top. We need to see diversity throughout all areas in a lot more industries.
Calling out racism is also really important and the best way to really tackle it. I’ve had horrendous experiences where I’ve been racially targeted and people around did absolutely nothing! I remember being In a group of colleagues (from my clinic) and a Doctor openly admitting she didn’t want a black woman and her child to sit next to her on a bus because they were black. She made other derogatory comments about black people too. To this day, she has not been held accountable for her behaviour and it was left up to me to decide what should happen, rather than anyone else speaks up. It should not be just my responsibility to do what is right.
A colleague I considered a friend now no longer speaks to me because I spoke out on it and I have felt marginalised ever since as a result. All the while the Doctor in question carries on like nothing happened. I can’t explain how this has made me feel, but when people in a position of power are defended and protected and the expense of justice, it could literally cost lives. If you are a Doctor, you should care for all people. How can you care about black lives if you don’t even want to sit next to a black woman and their child on a bus? Call it out!
What advice would you give anyone else experiencing racial discrimination?
Do you think we are moving closer to achieving true equality?
I think we definitely are. The fact that a space is being created to speak openly and honestly about different topics is a great leap. Race has always been a subject that gets brushed under the carpet and only those who are directly affected would speak up on racial injustice. There is definitely a shift taking place and people are starting to understand that it’s absolutely not about one race versus another, it’s simply about creating an even, level playing field for all. Policies are being reviewed, conversations are being had and we simply can no longer pretend that we do not live in a society whose foundation is built on oppression.