This communication may make for difficult reading so please ensure you can access support or have time to reflect with others
Trigger warning: racism; discrimination
We are disappointed and saddened that a member of the women’s sector, specifically the Violence Against Women and Girls sector, has been subjected to terrible racism, and disregard for her bodily autonomy by touching her locs without consent, at such an important event.
Ngozi Fulani CEO of Sistah Space, said she was made to feel like a trespasser, which is heart breaking as she was surrounded by 300 women representing VAWG charities.
Whilst Ngozi did not name the individual concerned, Mandu Reid, from the Women’s Equality Party did. It is right that it is properly addressed and called out. We all feel profound sadness that such an event for women was not the safe space it should have been. This incident exposes corrupt values and practices that amounts to institutional racism in its clearest form.
We stand in support of Ngozi, in our collective sisterhood by denouncing racism and are clear that we won’t stop until it is ended. We also want to acknowledge the courage that it takes to speak out, and to commend everyone who has stood in solidarity with her.
Ngozi has generously said she does not want the person concerned to be vilified, that she would rather the incident be used as an opportunity for the royal household to educate their staff and learn from, which is both compassionate and considered. However, as professionals who work in an intersectional feminist organisation and who support vulnerable survivors, we need to feel safe to go into spaces (and established institutions) on their behalf without fear of racism, gaslighting and a lack of respect for bodily autonomy or personal space. The incident needs to be the catalyst for change.
Whilst we must not let this incident overshadow the work of the sector, as up and down the country women and girls do rely on organisations like Sistah Space, ourselves and countless others, to empower them and support them, we must denounce racism once and for all and make sure our staff and service users feel safe and supported in the knowledge we are united in tackling it.