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Introducing our Inclusive Practice in Action 2021 host: Brenda Rattray

Getting to know Brenda Rattray

Brenda Rattray’s passion is education. She is founder of Voice Expressions and works internationally as a performer and educator providing communities with vocal skills, the joy of singing, building confidence, and sharing laughter, inspiration and hope wherever she can. She is also an artist and a poet.

On Monday 20th July 2020 Sound Connections’ Abi D’Amore and Jenn Raven attended a free online event called ‘In Conversation’ hosted by Brenda and Gary Rice one of Brenda’s voice students who is also an African American Architect.

Entitled “Black Lives Matter, I am a Black / brown human being”, it was advertised as a conversation and listening space for those who have a mind of enquiry and a desire to learn, grow or change understanding and perceptions by listening to the life experiences of people who look different from themselves.

This was the beginning of an important connection between us, that has led to a deepening understanding of each other’s values and perspectives, and to Brenda helping to shape and then to host our two day event ‘Inclusive Practice in Action: Diversifying the Workforce’.

 

An insight to Brenda’s process

Brenda began the ‘In conversation’ series with one of her voice students, Jamael Westman, who played the lead role in Hamilton in the West End just before lockdown.

She decided to continue the ‘In conversation’ process after the killing of George Floyd because she needed to express her thoughts about the horror of seeing the way he was publicly killed and she desperately needed to hear what others were thinking and feeling about the killing. Brenda set up six continuous days of conversations with Black and brown people who as part of this process shared their thoughts and reflections with anyone who attended the conversation. This invitation was extended to all attendees and invited guests sharing stories of their experiences of racism and exploring solutions to some of the daily incidents of racism and micro aggressions faced by Black and brown people.

The In Conversation series used a special and powerful approach:

  • It covered identity, institutional racism, diversity and the absence of Black and brown people in universities, in the work place, and in management positions in particular
  • The process was very important: discussions excitingly went wherever those participating took them. The conversations were with Black and brown people from all walks of life who openly shared their stories in the hope that attendees would hear, learn, understand, reflect, participate and leave the Zoom room with new thoughts and achievable solutions that might help us all move forward together towards a society where all are treated as equals, loved, respected and made to feel welcome.
  • It asked: Where do you stand in all of this? What action can you take tomorrow to lend your voice to the eradication of racism in our society?

Brenda shares: “It all began with the killing of George Floyd or did it? Watching the humiliating dehumanisation of the taking of a Black man’s life by someone who was supposed to protect all members of human society, opened the world to a new consciousness and worldwide protests: ‘I can’t breathe'; ‘Say their names'; ‘Black Lives Matter’ or did something else raise your consciousness and create a strong desire for you to stand and speak out about the injustices faced by Black and Brown people in our world?. Racism is either right or wrong! There is no fence, just offence to all people of colour who experience daily indignations and aggressions in all levels of society purely because of the colour of their skin.”

Brenda and Inclusive Practice in Action

We are absolutely delighted that Brenda has agreed to host the Inclusive Practice in Action two day virtual Sit In on 11th and 12th February. Her energy, wisdom, spirituality, deep understanding, challenge and provocation will help guide all of our attendees through an important process towards change.

Brenda says about Inclusive Practice in Action:

“Come open to learn and share something new either about yourself or others. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions, explore language, reflect on their experiences with not just Black or brown people but anyone in the world that looks different from them.

The foundation of this conference is love – racism is bad but we are not bad people. Look around you. If your workforce is white or if Black and brown people are only present in junior roles you need to attend this event. If you feel that the issues being discussed are overwhelming or too frightening to approach, come and receive some support, share your thoughts or listen to others who have discovered the language of truth and are able to share their experiences.

We are all in this melting pot together so let’s work together so that all voices can be heard in the spirit of kindness, and love in a world that sometimes appears to be moving in the opposite direction.

I have a child and I want her to be treated with the same dignity and respect that white people often receive just because they are white. She needs some of those who educate her to look like her and be the male version of how she looks………. she needs to be taught by people of all shapes, colours and sizes who reflect all of the people who share our world including those who can understand a little of her world because of their own experiences…….

She needs to see and experience role models who reflect her image and (to ensure that her learning needs are met), she needs to be ‘held’ by educators who readily see her as a wonderfully and perfectly made human being, who are able to encourage, celebrate and value what she has to offer the world………..the fact that she isn’t white should never ever be a barrier to her potential or hinder her success, nor should it rob her of her equal status to all human beings!”

Find out more about Brenda’s work

https://voiceexpressions.co.uk

reallynicepeople@icloud.com

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