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Black History Month & Me: Folasade Fasoyiro

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Published on 11 October 2022

Folasade Fasoyiro
Folasade Fasoyiro

Folasade Fasoyiro from Nigeria studied Management Technology (Banking and Finance) and her MA Business Administration in Nigeria before coming to Sunderland, where she studied MA Childhood and Youth Studies, and a Postgraduate course in Infant Mental Health. Folasade now lives in Sunderland with her two young children, and works as a Teaching Assistant and Infant Mental Health Trainee.

Here, as part of Black History Month, Folasade writes about the black woman who has influenced and inspired her.

My black mentor: In June 2022, I wrote an essay to fulfil a requirement in my just concluded Childhood and Youth Studies masters at the University of Sunderland. I chose the topic, ‘’Inequalities and racism in the UK: diversity and inclusion in early childhood education as a remedy’’ because of my experience working as A Teaching Assistant in schools around the north-east of England. In preparation for writing this essay, I watched TedTalk videos related to the subject and came across Laura Mae Lindo’s video titled, ‘’Why hugging out racism in education just won't cut it’’. Her video outlined the problems and solutions around contemporary issues of racism. I studied more about her and her work, this motivated me to connect with her on LinkedIn.

Laura Mae Lindo: Born to Jamaican immigrant parents in Canada in 1976, is a Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) in Ontario Canada. In December 2021, she introduced Bill 67, The Racial Equity in Education Systems Act which embeds anti-racist language into pieces of legislation from kindergarten to grade 12, and all throughout post-secondary. She was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 2018 provincial election. She is the founder of e(RACE)r, she is an educator and a public figure with a mission to turn anti-racism theory into real-time practice. She is known for advocating for investments in colleges and universities, an anti-Racism advocate who is constantly lending her voice to build an anti-racist community, a critic of immigration services who is always finding answers to ‘’Whys’’. She is a strong supporter of newcomers across Ontario, the present Chair of the Black Caucus in Ontario, who in her early career worked in academic positions in several institutions in Canada.

As the first and only Black elected official both provincially and federally in Waterloo Region, Canada, her motivation is to:

  • Ensure that Black community members see themselves represented and respected when they look at their government or those who make decisions that affect them.
  • Her ongoing mission is to turn anti-racist theory into practice by thinking critically about the world we live in, imagining the world we want, and committing to anti-racist actions that will make our communities thrive.
  • Staying true to her belief in social change, and, most importantly, she recognizes that this work must be implemented in every institution.

Why Black History Month (BHM) is important:

Colonialism has gradually been replaced by systemic racism as time passes by. BHM is important to help maintain the discourse around the fading lines that once upon a time justified slavery and to guide a critical examination of the lived experience of Black people. BHM helps unveil the cruel realities of ‘’blackness’’ and ‘’whiteness’’ and how promoting these concepts negatively affects the psychology of societies. BHM creates a safe space to help communities open conversations on the impact of racism and the dangers of labelling Black people.

Similar to Laura Mae Lindo, I personally have gone through self-discovery and the reality of the existing support and it made me quite familiar with the terrain of systemic racism in this new age. As a new student, my journey started with the knowledge of what is required of me to build my career as a children and family advocate, to me metamorphosing into the realisation of who I am perceived to be, and this knowledge equally equipped me with the mental boldness to take step that made me leave my comfort zone to support a community of new students who are Nigerians in my campus society, and most especially taking up a lead to support those who came into the Sunderland area to study with their families. I realised very fast just two months after my arrival the unique support that those who came with their families need. I started a support group on WhatsApp in January 2022 and the group has now grown to over 160 families who school in not just Sunderland University and Teesside University but inclusive of new families who come to work in Sunderland from Nigeria. I have dedicated time to give every member the support they may need to settle in the Sunderland community with their children and have also encouraged high interaction on the platform.

According to Laura Mae Lindo, the practice and quality of Equality and Diversity in any institution must answer the question; Are minority groups represented at the drawing table, where decisions are made that affect them? An experience of racism is most likely to help a person understand and implement the right solutions. Laura Mae Lindo is a gatekeeper of racial change and all through her career to date, has continued to display her passion.

My desire to support children and families is an attempt to help nurture the future of Black posterity and like Laura Mae Lindo once said, ‘’As a mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old black boy, I cannot help but worry about what the future will hold for him, too, if we do not learn to take seriously the fear that many black communities grapples with each day.’’ 

To mark this year’s Black History Month, I lend my voice to support racial equality for Black people. I look onward to a world, where every institution will learn and unlearn practices that discourage institutionalised racism.