Blog: Black History Month – Guest post by Nicky Ramanandi and Doreen Chananda

October marks Black History Month, a month UNISON has a proud history of supporting, throughout the month we acknowledge the achievements of Black people both past and present and the month also gives us time to focus on how life is for Black people today.

We know that discrimination and inequality still exists, and that colour  of your skin can and often does determine some key factors  – what kind of education you may have, what job opportunities become open to you, what health care may be accessible and how and where you live. There is an injustice that still prevails however the work of UNISON is key to combatting this, tackling such inequality and discrimination is at the heart of who we are and what we do.

In the Northern we have a strong Black Members group who are taking the key issues of our Black Members forward, building on a very successful policy weekend, a clear work program is being formed, through our partnership approach there is a real focus both from staff and lay members to ensure we have Black Members officer in Branches, and Black Members holding positions at Branch, Regional and National Level.

I am a Black Member and although my family have a very strong trade union background, I too have felt discrimination however it is through the support of UNISON that I have felt able to make by voice louder, to enable me to work as part of a collective to tackle racism and inequality and I am immensely proud to be the Regional Convenor. We had a number of events planned throughout the month including our regional event with Show Racism the Red Card for Wear Red Day in the council chamber at Gateshead Civic Centre which was well attended and featured on our social media pages. If you are a Black Member and keen to be more involved than please get in touch.

Nicky Ramanandi
UNISON Northern Regional Convenor


My name is Doreen Chananda. I work as a mental health community practitioner, Cultural ambassador, Chair for the Black members SOG Northern region, a steward. I am pleased and honoured to be speaking about Black History Month.

Black History Month is as a celebration of those who’ve impacted not just the country but the world with their activism and achievements, an opportunity for people to engage with Black histories, go beyond discussions of racism and slavery, and highlight Black leaders and accomplishments.

Black history month is very important to me because it is time to highlight the achievements of the Black people who have impacted positively to many people’s lives within our society.

Growing up my understanding of black history was distorted by what was then the common educative narratives being taught.

It’s also time to reflect on the struggles black people have faced in regard to racism, inequalities, negative perceptions, and negative stereotypes and the impact of this on them. We should be celebrated.

I feel I have a responsibility to share the positive narratives about Black history to my children and those I come into contact with, as this is one of the ways l can see positive changes within our communities and work places.

Maya Angelou once said ‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude’.

Together we will!!

Doreen Chananda,
Regional Black Member’s Group