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A Waitress called Amy

At the end of last year, I made a Christmas-catch up 'phone-call to someone who I worked with in my BC career. I happily admit that she was one of the many people who've influenced the person that I am today.
I was a twenty something duty manager and she was a hard working, speed talking, defiantly feisty (and pretty) mother of one child . She was also titchy - which weakened the scariness of her nature. 

She was a hard nut to crack and I was a rookie manager who still needed the rough edges knocked off me. Luckily for me, Amy and her colleagues started to do just that and the result was that we all achieved great things, as a team.

There were two occasions that stick in my mind as being pivotal to our relationship and my personal development. The first was a work decision that needed to be made during a mini crisis; I have forgotten what that crisis was.

I knew that Amy would have the knowledge to help me, but our relationship was scratchy and I was hesitant. Never for long though, bite the bullet and .... I asked her what she would do. 'You're the manager, you decide', she responded. Again, I hesitated, a bit taken aback and knowing that what I said next was crucial. So I said what I thought: 'Yes, but you know far more about this than I do and what you think is important to me.'

After an eye to eye pause, her facial expression melted. Visibly melted. She told me what she thought we should do, we actioned it and moved on to a different phase in our working relationship.

The second occasion, she reduced me to tears. There had been a TV programme the previous night, black reporters had visited areas of Britain, to prove that racism was still inherent. It was shocking and I broached the subject by asking her if she'd seen it. 

She had and she told me how I couldn't begin to understand what living with prejudice was like. She told me how, when she applied for her current role, she'd had to say 'I have to let you know that I am black'. 

She told me how she'd had to do this as she'd previously gone for an interview (somewhere else) and when she arrived the woman denied all knowledge of even speaking to her. Amy may be a speedy talker but she has little trace of a Jamaican accent.

Amy told me how she'd felt so humiliated, having to admit her colour over the 'phone but the thought of being turned away again, would have been more upsetting. 

So why am I writing this? This week a Public Inquiry has been announced into Undercover Policing following the Ellison Report. The crime that it relates to happened twenty one years ago. A murder that took ten seconds. The murdered boy was a similar age to that of Amy's child then and to the age of our giants today. It not only took a very talented and beautiful young man on the cusp of his adult life, it destroyed his family too.

I am talking about Stephen Lawrence, of course, and about the fight against institutional corruption and racism, in the name of justice.  A fight that still isn't over after two decades since his death - longer than the time that Stephen was on this earth.

Amy was right, I still cannot begin to understand. Can you?

This blog is dedicated to Amy, who should continue inspiring

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