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|Joy Persaud was born in the United Kingdom (UK) to Guyanese parentage and by Guyana’s law could be a naturalised citizen. She makes claims to East Indian/West Indian/Caribbean/Guyanese heritage with the foods prepared in her home as a child. Whilst others seem mystified by her Guyanese culture, she said she couldn’t be prouder.
In the UK she is carving out a niche for herself working independently and with others to confront bigotry. Hers is a story of evident determination in exposing this evil evilness, and working to influence an understanding and respect for others by allowing them to tell their stories and make known their contributions, to the very society that seeks to spurn them.
Joy shares her own experiences of struggling with the fusion of her identity, being made to feel alienated from her racial ancestry and country she was born in. Recounting her own experience she said, “I am British but not British enough (for certain people). I have Indian heritage – 100 per cent according to Ancestry – yet I am not ‘a proper Indian’, as a self-pronounced ‘proper’ Indian former friend once said, while she sniffed at my Indian-Guyanese heritage.”
In seeking to make a positive difference on race and ethnic relations Joy has partnered with her friend Dr Chetan Trivedy, consultant Accident and Emergency, the National Health Service (NHS) on a project, “Who are you really?” The project aims “to raise funds to produce a book that celebrates the diversity of the NHS, which is the country’s largest employer.
“All profits will go to NHS charities that assist staff working for the service. The book will tell the stories of people whose families are from all corners of the globe and give readers an insight into those whose voices aren’t often heard.”
The NHS reportedly employs more than 1.4 million workers, and of that amount about 20 percent is from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups and the project, “Where are you really from?” has been formed to honour the ethnic diversity of those who offer their skills to the NHS. Persons are supposedly being invited to tell their stories and “positive BAME role models [would be identified] to inspire and encourage future generations to consider careers within the NHS.”
Joy pointed out that similar to hers’ there is another project undertaken by Naomi Ventour, a Londoner of British African-Caribbean heritage, who is on a mission to “share history that is overlooked.” Ventour’s advocacy, Joy said, has been helpful in influencing primary schools to now include Black history in its curriculum year-round, not just in Black History Month.
She goes further to empathise with the commonality of Ventour’s struggle and advocacy in pointing out that society cannot “expect progress to be made if we do not have open, honest inclusive conversation…It’s time to be okay with being uncomfortable and, to be frank, be willing to fail in order to win. It is important that all questions are asked, and even the wrong ones.”
Like other advocates for racial equity Joy notes that sometimes all that is needed to make a big difference in the world is merely some small action. And she is doing just that by taking on a project that requires telling the stories of BAME groups in the UK, and the world by extension, would know all those who are making positive contributions in their adopted or birth land.
Additional to her BAME’s project Joy is editor, author, editorial coach, award-winning journalist, ghost writer, copywriter and freelancer, having written for British media houses such as The Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday, Daily Mail. She has a degree in Psychology (Honours) and is the author of “Where are you really from?”