WANT AN MBE/ OBE/ CBE?
When you watch the Prime Minister or the Queen distribute honours like the MBE, OBE, CBE each year, do you look on at ‘’them’’ and imagine if that were ‘’us’’? Well guess what? The honours system is not an upper class, Caucasian award only for those connected, famous and in high places. It’s possible for anyone (yes, that you and me), to nominate anyone else (yes, that’s you and me too!) right now there’s a campaign being led by cabinet office that’s encouraging more nominations by and for women and minority communities.
Have you ever wondered why or how some people receive a MBE, OBE or CBE honour from the Queens New Years or Birthday Honours List. How do you nominate, someone to receive this, and do you know someone who deserves to be nominated?
As part of a Black History Month road show to encourage more minorities and women to be nominated for the honours, I was invited to attend a presentation to help find out more about how the system works, entitled Demystifying the British Honours System.
Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE was recently appointed to the Economic Honours Committee, one of the nine committees which endorses nominations to be passed by Prime Minister Rt Hon. David Cameron to Queen Elizabeth II for her approval of investitures, either for the Queen’s New year’s Honours List or for the Queen’s Honours Birthday List.
On joining the committee, one of the first things she recognised was the lack of nominations from women and minorities, and immediately made a commitment to help the Cabinet Office to spread the word that the system is open to nominations, not just from the perceived great and good, but for anyone seen to be carrying out supportive work in their community beyond the call of duty, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
Yvonne explained that white men currently dominate the system. What she referred to as ‘’male, pale and stale’’. She added that there is a lack of nominations by and for from women especially from the BAME community. Is it because we’re not as good at supporting each other?. Yvonne said ‘’People think it’s much more difficult and don’t know the process. There’s a lack of knowledge. That’s why we’re doing a roadshow that goes across the UK so people from women’s and BAME backgrounds, disabled backgrounds and youth can know that we want them to be a part of the honours system. ‘‘When you nominate just go to the honours website and fill in a short, very simple form about your nominee. What are they doing outside their day job? Talk about what the impact has been on the community, length of service and change. It must be someone that is still doing that role. We are interested in increasing diversity in all areas’’.
it’s a well known fact that poet Benjamin Zephaniah and theater artist jonzi d rejected their honours for a number of reasons. Yvonne acknowledged this too ‘‘we have had discussions about the use of the word empire. From my personal perspective I’m honoured to have been asked and those that have been touched by what I do makes me acknowledge the award with grace.
Some people turn it down cos they think they should have a higher award. There will always be a debate about the word “empire” especially whilst the queen is around. Currently there are no plans to change the word “empire”. There is a cross section of community who are awarded these honours, from foster carers, head teachers*, police, dinner ladies and more, it’s just that the media, for obvious reasons, focus on the celeb stories’’ so there you have it readers. You can nominate! What are you waiting for?
PRECIOUS AWARDS- WALDORF HOTEL
I attended the annual Precious Awards, which celebrate and honour women in a variety of categories at the Waldorf Hotel. Founder Foluke Akinlose told me ‘’at the core of our awards is our commitment to giving a platform to women of colour in business and leadership’’. Foluke launched precious magazine in 1999 as there were no digital platforms for women of colour in the UK ‘’it was as if little girls like me were invisible, I had to look at American publications to read positive stories of black achievement. Women of colour are still generally ignored by the mainstream, the standard of the ‘’class of 2013 was high and choosing our winners was difficult but deep down all our finalists are winners’’.
JASMINE WITH PRECIOUS AWARD NOMINEE HOPE DAVIS
The night was very elegant and intimate. A very specially chosen select group of nominees and press started with a champagne reception and then a sumptuous sit down meal. At my table were two very impressive nominees. One of them was Hope Davis- who founded the hope school of dance, which offers classes specifically for children with special needs.
Also at my table was the founder of ROCKSTAR STARTUP LOANS who are the UK’s largest entrepreneurial mentoring organisation.
The awards were hosted by my friend, founder of Colourblind Cards and PR lady- Jessica Huie. Her co-host was life coach and motivational speaker Rasheed Ogunlaru. Both did a brilliant job in guiding us through each award. It was fascinating to hear of and see so many amazing women who have set up their own businesses and are doing so well.
The big head honcho of this very newspaper- George Ruddock- also attended to hand out the award to the man of the year. He whispered to me ‘’I cant believe it, all these very talented, successful women everywhere and I get to give out an award to the only male winner-that’s not fair!’’ lol
GOOGLE BHM EVENT- (all pics by SAI Photography)
Finally I attended an event titled Inspiring Minds: Community, Choices & Legacy at Google’s London office. Google UK were celebrating Black History Month for the first time and developed a calendar of activities, lead by the Black Googler Network (BGN) to; engage Googlers, develop pipeline and show their commitment.
STRATFORD THEATRE CHOIR PERFORM AT GOOGLE
The event was for 150 external guests in their London office where they brought together professionals, students, community leaders and employees for an evening of discussion and entertainment to honour Black History Month. In the house were faces like actor/presenter Kat Boyce, music lady Cookie Pryce, hip hop act Akala, Flava Magazines head lady Annika Allen and more.
AKALA AT THE GOOGLE EVENT.
The pre event reception was in a huge stylist space where waiters handed out drinks and snacks and clearly no expense was spared. We were also entertained by a very impressive performance set by the community choir Stratford East Singers.
It kicked off with a welcome speech by Google exec Adrian Joseph, who had us all sitting tall in our seats. It’s so refreshing to see a top exec at a company not just give a welcoming speech and then leave. Adrian was engaging, fun and inspiring with his demonstration of Google’s technology possibilities today, how it had helped keep the world informed, why it was the planets biggest and best search engine and most impressively, why it was the company’s mission to be the leading tech company in diversity areas by the end of 2014! By the time he had finished speaking I wanted him to be my boss!
THE GUARDIAN’S JOSEPH HARKER
Speakers included; Joseph Harker, the Guardians assistant comment editor. He was also a former editor at the weekly newspaper Black Briton and The Voice newspaper. Josephs speech was beautiful. A really passionate speaker, who had us engaged about his own experiences and his journey to the top of the print press game.
Next, a panel debate was hosted by my surrogate big sister, (not mother or Angie will kill me!), comedienne and actress Angie Le Mar. panelists included Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE, Matilda MacAttram, Pablo Reid and Vanessa Sanyauke. All of the speakers impressed with their insight on the topics of legacy and as the CHOICEFM name change to Capital Xtra was topical, Yvonne enlightened us by saying ‘’Choice had to be sold but it left a legacy, by training younger djs who went on to more mainstream stations, to spread the professional black story. It did what it had to do’’
Matilda MacAttram from the Black Mental Health organization really impressed me with her speech in which she educated us about the story of David Bennett who was killed after being restrained by medical staff. She told us ‘’Nurses held him down for 30 minutes. His final words were ‘’I can’t breath. I can’t breath’’. The nurse’s words were ‘‘calm down boy!’’ this example typifies mental health in our community’’. Matilda had both us and herself I tears by the time she had finished speaking about the work she does. (Has she got an honour? can someone who knows her please nominate her?)
MISHA B PERFORMS AT GOOGLE.
The main event closed with another musical performance, this time by X Factor act Misha B, who sang with gusto and passion. A networking reception followed with culinary delights including fried plantain balls, lamb patties and tamarind balls which I had to pick at discreetly so as not to be seen to polish of two trays full.
GOOGLE LAMB PATTIES.
Over the month of October Google have raised the visibility and awareness of Black History Month and the Black Googler Network internally, and gained new members to the group.
AUDIENCE GUESTS AT GOOGLE
Adrian finished by reminding us of Googles commitment to the diversity cause both in front and behind their online platform. He urged me to tell you all about Topblacktalent.com which engages great talent from the BAME community. Yearly Applications close in November so check it out and get on board life’s winners train today!