What I discovered working at Discovery Inc!

Last week in my article ‘Best Boss Ever’, I reflected on the best boss that I have ever had within all my years of employment. This week I take a look at my time at Discovery inc, a creative powerhouse, and what I discovered while working there.

The company logo when i worked there

Disclaimer: I will start by saying I am not a TV person. My TV remains unplugged, unless it is being used for gaming (PS4, Switch etc) or for children’s tv shows by my niece. I’ll always pick watching the news, documentaries or factual shows over anything else, more often then not this is done on my iPad. So if you had told me that I would one day be working at a mass media company even one whose core operations are a group of non-scripted and factual television brands I wouldn’t have believed you. I was that child that ran crying to her mother aged 3 after nursery, because her father had turned the channel when the news had been on and she’d been avidly watching. I am also the adult that will pick reading a book over watching a tv show every single time that I am given the choice. Whilst I had no doubt that my skill set was transferrable and I could do the job, I was apprehensive about working with television brands when I’d most likely not watched many of their shows. 

During the final round of interviews, Susanna Dinnage (my future boss), asked me what TV shows I watched. I can remember thinking ‘oh gosh this is it, you won’t get the role’, even as I answered honestly, “I don’t really watch many TV Shows, I love to to watch the news and documentaries and a secret guilty pleasure of mine is Naked and Afraid , as it’s amazing to see them overcome physical and mental battles”.

Naked and Afraid

Fast forward and despite my many doubts, I started my first day at Discovery. One of the very first things I discovered, was how happy everyone was. This was very refreshing and unfortunately a unique experience for me within a corporate setting. I have never been more welcomed into a working space, company or situation so enthusiastically as I was at Discovery Inc. It would be easy to dismiss this as merely a side-effect of the role that I was working, however, having done this for over 10 years I can confidently say that it wasn’t that at all. I am excellent with faces, but it takes me a little longer with names, and despite the many people stopping by my desk to introduce themselves being a lot to remember in the moment, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for making my first day there so memorable and enjoyable. I have never felt more welcome, THANK YOU! I got to see first hand, that when people are happy, it makes for a happy working environment.

I have also worked in a wide range of industries and businesses and even at another media company (a story for another day) many of which imposed strict dress codes. I have worked in offices where the role specified that I couldn’t wear my hair down if it was past my shoulders in length, leading me to cut mine as a result, because I refused to be dictated to daily over my hair. I have worked in offices where my choice of wardrobe would result in passive aggressive comments such as ‘feeling the summer already?’ Or ‘new clothes, we haven’t seen that here before.’ The dress code at Discovery did not dictate any of this. In fact I didn’t feel like there were any strict no no’s. Of course I still dressed befitting the role I was working, but for the first time in my career, I wore jeans and converse to work on days when I had no meetings or external visitors. I can tell you that it made the biggest difference to my mood in the mornings not having to worry about my wardrobe choices and how they might be received in the workplace. I can also say that my work never suffered as a consequence of anything I wore and I hope that my former employer will agree.

Working for Susanna, I got to witness when passion, talent and excellence meets career. There wasn’t a single person that I spoke to at Discovery that had anything negative to say about her as a person. Nor is there anything negative that I can say. Working for heads of companies, HNWI or people in high positions of responsibility is never easy. I won’t even pretend that it is, and as someone that has worked for many people in those positions, I know that the responsibility they hold is a very heavy one. It can be easy to take that out on those around you, I have worked at places where EAs cried in side rooms at the end of the day and I myself have been in positions prior to Discovery that left me in tears. I didn’t experience this with Susanna or at Discovery.

An audience with Susanna Dinnage luncheon event

I joined the company after a car accident, that left me needing weekly physiotherapy and was taken on board with that knowledge, something other potential employers asked me to cancel in order to take on roles. A request for a day off in order to get my hair put into braids (it really takes a whole day) was met with enthusiasm and acceptance and is something I will likely never forget. Thank you Susanna for showcasing what love of a job is and for not only taking a chance on me but accepting me as I am.

The braids in question….I was happy honest!

However, the biggest thing I discovered working at Discovery, was that corporate doesn’t cancel out creativity. If you have read my open letter to Jill Scott, you will know that I spent 10 years deep in writers block. I don’t note this for sympathy, in fact I didn’t even notice that it had even been nearly 10 years since I had written anything from the heart until I started working at Discovery. I call Discovery a creative powerhouse because it is one. Not just because of the nature of its business but mainly because of the people that it employs. For many there, a job is not just a job but in addition to that, many have creative ‘side hustles’ that they operate simultaneously. I don’t often think of myself as a creative person, I remember the frustration my G.C.SE. art teacher felt as she proclaimed ‘you can’t draw or paint, what am I going to do with you?!’ She was right, I couldn’t draw or paint, but I still left school with an A grade in art G.C.S.E. I say this, because art is not one dimensional, I used sculpting and photography as my mediums and my gift with words helped explain what I was trying to portray. Like art, creativity is also not one dimensional. At Discovery I worked with actors, stylists, producers, and bakers etc. A whole plethora of talents, that Discovery fosters with internal events like it’s showcase markets and employee resource groups such as the Multicultural alliance, Discovery pride, Environmental groups and Women’s network group etc. They do entire days such as Discovery kids day and Discovery Impact day where once a year employees are invited to use their time for charitable causes like volunteering at old peoples home, community gardening etc.

Discovery’s dine with a michelin star chef event
The EAs table listening to a speech by Tove Gustafsson (Travel director)
Asha Bogle and I, with former GB boxer and cofounder of WEBOX at the discovery Women’s network event

My first experience of the talent, housed within Discovery was in fact with my predecessor in my role, Raya Dibbs, who was leaving Discovery to focus on her career as an actor. This wasn’t the only example I got to see, and I was starkly reminded of my own creativity when a colleague needed a cake for her daughters sleepover and I offered to make the cake toppers, a talent I discovered years ago when my mum had forgotten to order a cake for my younger sisters 18th birthday party. I like decorating cakes but just like with my writing this was also something that I hadn’t done in 10 years. I don’t actually like or enjoy baking cakes, so another colleague who operated a business away from Discovery baking cakes did that. It was wonderful to see colleagues recognise and draw on others talents when need be and something I am sure still takes place now.

A Chugginton cake by me for my older nieces 2nd birthday

To conclude, I discovered a lot of things while working at Discovery Inc. too many to list in this article but I hope that you see that not only is it an amazing place to work but it is packed to the brim with amazing people too!

Special thanks goes to Micheal McMahon and Annet Barry for lending an ear whenever I had a need to vent. You will never know how valuable your friendship was and is to me. I miss the catch ups and Nandos moments and hope we can have more in the future, as well as a good catch up when I am back in England and Covid is over. Thank you to Asha Bogle for also lending your ear and expertise whenever I needed it, I always left your desk with a smile on my face and I really appreciate you. I’d like to also thank Sean Thomas and Maxim S. for all the assistance you both gave when I needed it on the IT front. We all know that it sometimes turned out to be a lot and I have no doubt that I fast became your number one customer. I want to say thank you for all the help you gave me, your assistance meant I was able to get my job done to the best of my ability and I really appreciated that. I’d also like to thank Alison Smith and Sarah Spalding for the friendship that they both gave me. I looked forwards to the times that I got to stop at their desks and also the moments when they stopped at mine.

Annet and I at one of the internal events
Annet Barry and I during a Discovery Shark week event

I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, may she rest in peace. A fantastic and talented woman, who was a major part of my time at Discovery inc. Laureline, taught me how things are done at Discovery, and showed me how to use the Macbook Pro to ensure the presentations at the weekly meetings were as they should be. She was my connection to everyone and always knew who to point me in the direction of when I needed assistance that she couldn’t personally help with. She covered my role anytime I was out of the office and when I had annual leave, accepting M&Ms and other sweet treats as tokens of my gratitude. But we didn’t only talk about work stuff and I enjoyed learning about her love for dogs and Haley and Blake, our joint love of aqua fitness and her passion for film and the work she did away from Discovery as a producer. An integral part of my time at Discovery Inc. and someone whom I will always remember fondly.

Laureline Garcia-Bertaux RIP

Today I’m one of THOSE Vegans…..

Yesterday I touched on the fact that I would rather list everything that I don’t eat then call myself a Vegan, in my article ‘Oh so you’re a Vegan…’. It makes sense, because my journey into Veganism did not begin with the desire and intention to save the world.

The reality is outside of the Vegan community, it is others that give me the Vegan label. I really did just list everything that I don’t eat for the longest time.

According to the Collins dictionary, Veganism is “the adherence to a vegan diet“. So if I was to base my classification off of that, I am at least following Veganism. However, others may argue that its bigger than just what you consume. According to Merriam-Webster, “ a strict vegetarian who consumes no food (such as meat, eggs, or dairy products) that comes from animals also : one who abstains from using animal products (such as leather)”. This requires a little more of a person then just what they eat. It goes into the lifestyle choices that one makes. So do I adhere to that? The short answer is yes. In recent years I have made a conscious effort to check the labels of products I use. What may have started out as necessity for health and quality of life has expanded to mean more to me. It matters to me now that if i’m using a product, it has the Vegan trademark and that products are therefore free from animal ingredients and animal testing.

My issues with Vegans, and why I’ll often distance myself from being labelled as one is their desire to police other Vegans and the militance they use to Police those that don’t adhere to the same diet and lifestyle as them. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t force it on anyone. You can bring a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink and I fully follow that practise. If anyone asks my opinion on it, I’ll share where my thoughts lie but you won’t find me trying to force anyone into it. It has been wonderful to see my friends reduce their meat consumption over the years and also approach me for Vegan recipes of their own accord. You can do more with love then you can ever do with hate. Would I prefer all my loved ones to be Vegan? Certainly. My brother knew whenever he came to my flat that he was getting a Vegan meal because that’s what I eat. I can remember watching episodes of shows like Come Dine with Me, where when the host has been Vegan, they’ve cooked meat to make their guests more ‘comfortable’. You won’t catch me doing that. The other month I proclaimed to my friends that I can’t marry a meat-eater, I was called extra, and I can see why it would seem that way until you take into consideration all my reasons around it. I won’t list them here but its a big part of my life and I would like whoever I end up with to share that part of my life with me.

According to the Vegan society ‘Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.’ Thats right, ‘as far as is possible and practicable’, this is a definition that definitely applies to me. 

When I first gave up the consumption of all animal products, I was ignorant to much of the food practises involved in the preparation. I was aware of battery farms, was adamant that animal milk is for animals and not Humans. It’s strange that Humans are the only mammals that consume the milk from species not their own. The more I would learn the more it would confirm in my mind that I was on the right course for both myself and the planet. I always say that if one thing doesn’t change, then nothing will. I might only be one person, but all of those singular people doing their bit eventually adds up when numbers are combined.

I am not an animal person, in all honesty, they scare me. Whilst fear is irrational, I have always been wary of animals due to my inability to communicate with them and know what they are thinking. In my youth a friend got bitten by a dog intent on attacking me after he stepped in front of me. My fear of dogs is therefore less irrational and more based on experience. Before you make any further assumptions about me, you should know that I am no less wary of humans. While I am not an animal person, I am equally not a human person either. I do not agree with the idea of having pets, especially if you live in flat or don’t have the means to make that animals life as spectacular as can be. They can’t tell you if they are unhappy though, so its up to you as their owner to ensure you are doing the most. Many people fall in love with the idea of having a pet, and when faced with the reality not matching the dream, send their pets off to pounds. I’d rather no-one keep pets than that, but if you are a potential future pet owner, I would suggest not heading for a breeder but getting your animal from a rescue centre instead.

By that same measure I am not a fan of Zoos unless they are actively contributing to the conservation effort. I hate that the new norm for many holidays is to be pictured with a declawed tiger, on the back of an elephant or something similar. I love animals in the wild, I believe the only interference that should come from humans is ensuring that we don’t lose any more species to extinction. Like many of you I watched the Netflix series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. I would have liked to have seen these ‘zoo owners’ prosecuted for their crimes to animals, illegal breeding of tigers and full on animal cruelty. You won’t catch me signing a petition to free Joe Exotic and I genuinely hope that they lock Carole Baskin and all the other big cat owners up soon too.

Back to the Vegan society’s definition of Veganism, and we look at the line to ‘all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.’ As I said before, I love all animals in the wild. A few years ago, on one of my annual Easter trips to Grenada, I told my dad I wanted to take a trip up to Grand Etang to see the monkeys. These monkeys are wild. They roam free in the rain forrest unencumbered and are protected by local laws. There’s not guarantee that they will come out of the trees and see you but some give in to the lure of an easy dinner, an offering of some bananas. Looking back, I question if this was exploitation but the monkeys are wild and free to come and go as they please. I was probably more scared then the monkey that decided it wanted to sit on my head to eat the banana that I gave it.

I love all animals in the wild. I hope that future generations understand the importance of them getting to stay in their own natural habitats, with minimal to no interference from humans. So whilst I abhor animal cruelty I must speak up when I see people hunting and killing endangered animals for sport. Last years winter love island over on ITV saw a contestant named Ollie Williams outed for being a trophy hunter. If there’s anything I hate more its the hunting of animals for trophy. Ollie’s twitter bio states that he is a staunch conservative, I miss-classified him as a racist because of this, and with no proof I retracted that statement and apologised. But given that I now had his attention, I felt it was important to address his status as a trophy hunter despite papers like The Sun printing article where Ollie claimed not to be. The Mirror also published an article on this entitled ‘Love Island’s Ollie Williams denies trophy hunting in defiant statement’. However, pictures don’t lie, and Ollie deleting the evidence of his trophy hunting actions from his instagram did not make them disappear all together. Once on the internet always on the internet. 

My Twitter argument with Ollie saw him attempt to threaten me with the notion that I will get my ‘fingers burnt’, and I would like to take this opportunity to remind him that he courted fame when he went on a national television show. 

My argument with Ollie fast saw him changing his tune to state that hunting is important to ‘the survival of many African species’. It made me wonder what did Africa do before Ollie was born and embarked onto the continent as a white saviour.

I would have been more inclined to believe Ollie’s sentiment that by killing and posing with the bodies of animals he was acting on the greater good had he not been exposed by the metro newspaper in March 2020 in the article, ‘Love Islands Ollie Williams shoots venison after denying Trophy hunting claims‘. In an instagram post captioned ‘Hunting wild venison: my kind of stockpiling’ Ollie can be seen hunting Deer. In todays climate, you do not need to hunt for food, with the exception of indigenous tribes who live off the land, it is not necessary. The Guardian newspaper reported that ‘UK householders throw away 34,000 tonnes of beef every year’  in their article, UK households wasting 34,000 tonnes of beef each year. That article is now 4 years old and I imagine we waste even more food per annum now than we did then. 

I will always actively confront those that I see practising animal cruelty. Hunting of animals is not needed today and those that do it, do it for sport alone. Activities such as clay pigeon shooting can be done instead to tackle those desires. To conclude, whilst I may not have started out as a person concerned with the right of animals, know that I care. I will not sit by blind to the practices of animal cruelty. If you ever thought that I would then you should know this: Today I’m one of THOSE Vegans!

Best Boss ever!

I had a boss who has turned out to be the best one that I have ever had, Atle Rettedal was the best boss ever! And I don’t say the words flippantly, over 10 years of industry experience and Atle is still holding the title. 

I haven’t ever told the story of how I ended up as an executive assistant or the motivations behind it, when I had never been one and had actually studied Law at university. 

My first official city job after University, found me working at Accenture.  As a massive firm and with the position that I held in working within the facilities department, I was able to interact with a lot of  people from all walks of life. The work force at Accenture is very diverse, and I found myself drawn to the Executive assistants and how happy they seemed within their roles. I wanted that level of satisfaction but I had also reached the realisation that I would like a job that let me travel and see the world. This desire led me to apply for various assistant positions, all while knowing that I lacked a key ingredient, experience. 

But this article is not actually about any of that, its about the best boss I’ve EVER had, Atle Rettedal.

When I interviewed for the position at @Statoil I wasn’t aware that I would be working with him, not as a person, it was still very abstract to me and I came onboard as the assistant of one of his direct reports.

So why do I call him the best boss ever? Because he is one and is most assuredly deserving of this title. Atle saw a confidence in me that I didn’t see in myself. Thats not to say that I didn’t have confidence, I did. But it is one thing to be sure of yourself and another for someone else to be that sure of you. I have early memories of sitting at my desk and having to pep talk myself into ensuring that I got the tasks done and didn’t get too inside my own head. I remember that he very really checked with me on the tasks he had set, not because he was apathetic, he just knew that some things needed managing and others didn’t need micro managing.

One of the biggest lessons I learned from Atle, is that it is ok to say no, and the right to do so should be practised frequently. It is a well known fact that many PAs, EAs, Assistants etc have a hard time doing this. It is a key element of our jobs to ensure that we are doing everything that we can to make our bosses lives run smoother but that should never be at the expense of ourselves. One of my KPIs for my people@statoil that Atle set was for me to say No, and it took a while for me to see the value in that. It was a foreign concept to me and cultural differences between Norwegians and Brits were always surprising me. 

In some of my other articles on here I briefly touch on the fact that I have experienced racism at every stage of my life, and I would be remiss if I painted a rosy image of my at my time at Statoil. However, that aside, Statoil still is top two favourite company that I have ever worked at. 

I had issues like everyone else and I was lucky enough that when faced with such issues I had Atle as a boss. He stood behind me in full support when I felt I was being harassed by various people and someone would later be responsible for human rights. I believe that made the biggest difference to how the situation was treated.

Atle made work a second home for me, which given the amount of time I spent there, was a blessing. I have held positions where I dreaded going into work but that was never the case with him. Theres a saying ‘Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life’, and this held true for my role supporting Atle. I loved it. I looked forwards to going into work each day to work for him. His management team became like a second family to me and I was beyond devastated when internal restructuring meant that I lost not only him but the management team too. 

To conclude, there are far too many reasons why Atle was and is the best boss that I have ever had. I would be here all day if I had to list them. I am able to look back at the early stages of my career with nothing but fond memories and smile. I don’t know many people that can say the same. When Atle left the position that made him my boss, I purchased a book from Harrods that had the title ‘Best boss ever’ on the front cover. I passed it around the company and it was filled with wonderful messages from employees who held the same sentiment that I did.  One of Atle’s departing comments to me was that nothing ever went wrong. I can remember that plenty went wrong but Atle’s support in me meant i was always able to persevere and push through. Im not sure that I really truly communicated to Atle back then just how much of a difference he had made in my life and I hope that he sees the words that I have written here and knows how much it really all meant to me. 

Special mentions:

First special mention goes out to Margaret Mistry who first hired me for the position even though I had no oil or energy or specific personal assistant experience. Thank you for seeing the confidence that I have in myself as an asset. 

Second special mention goes out to Anne Gerd Folden Bakken, the stretch assignments that you gave me helped me grow immensely. The opportunity to sit on the incident reporting task force become a Synergi superuser and provide assistance in the creation of the TRIPs course does not go unnoticed. 

 Last special mention goes to Astri Okstad, who saw something in me upon first meeting that I couldn’t see in myself. Thank you for trying to push me towards a communication role/position that I have no doubt would have been a great fit for me. All I can say is, I appreciate what you attempted to do for me. A lot of my life back then was governed by fear and the consequence of this was that I would often self-sabotage as a means of protecting myself but I have never forgotten the faith you had in me. 

A black parents love is tough….

A black parents love is tough, and having lived the life that I have thus far, I get it.

Mum and Dad. Bathway Beach, Grenada. 2017

You didn’t want the world to be able to crush our spirits, all while knowing that it was highly unlikely that we would get to pass through this journey unscathed. I have touched on the fact that both of my parents worked for the NHS for over 70 years combined before retiring. Dad was 20 years old when he left Grenada, the only island he knew as home and moved to England to get a degree in nursing. He eventually retired as a senior charge nurse within the mental health sector. My mother came to England aged 2 on the passport of her grandmother in the midst of the wind rush era retiring from the NHS 8 years ago due to ill health.

My parents on their wedding day, UK. 20th September 1980

I grew up hearing stories from him on life back home, how he walked miles for school, how strict his own father had admittedly been with him. He used to tell me how he promised his father that he would one day come back home before he left Grenada for good over 45 years ago. His father passed away before I was born, but it gave me the most amount of joy that his mother got to see him settle back home before she passed away in 2015. Im possibly the closest to my parents and the most distanced from them, out of all my siblings. Our similar temperament and nature sees me clash with them all the time. The same stand firm attitude that they raised me to have wars with the sentiment that you should obey your elders and parents no matter your age. Arguments with my father often find me having to remind him that yes its obey your parents, but had he obeyed his, he never would have made it to the UK.

My Dad with me as a toddler, strong willed even then

Growing up I never felt like my parents were happy with or proud of me. School was easy for me, I didn’t like it, but I got great grades. Honestly I coasted. If you have read some of my previous articles you will know that I did not have the easiest time in school. In fact, I have often likened my Catholic Christian primarily school to the gates of hell, and its fires having been what forged me. I am one of five children, the second youngest. Both my parents worked full time as nurses/nursing assistants for the NHS throughout my whole childhood and youth. I never wanted to add to any burden they had and consequently spent much of my childhood feeling alone and misunderstood.  My anxiety and need for control manifested into an eating disorder, but thats a story for another day.


My parents did an amazing job, i’m sure their only desire was to provide their children with a life better then they had. I believe that they did that, often sacrificing their own wants and needs for ours. They raised me to love myself, first, foremost and always. I never needed for anything and when they could satisfy a want of mine they tried their best to do so. My father’s catch phrase throughout most of my life has been “Who upset my Teen?” I wear my heart on my sleeve, forever battle worn because of how soft it is, my compassion and empathy are limitless and surprisingly untarnished all things considered. 

A conversation with my mother last week, had me reflecting on the upbringing that they gave us. She told me that had my father had his own way he would have raised us West Indian.

Mum and I, Grenada 2017

This confused me. They raised me so West Indian that I have spent much of my life straddling a line never quite fitting in. I called the Caribbean home, had the fortune of spending summers with my grandparents in both Grenada and Dominica before they passed. I didn’t get to eat Western food, so much so that I cried when my parents finally allowed me to eat dinner around a class mates house only for them to research and attempt to cook me a West Indian meal. It was water logged and looked totally unappealing, so much so that I cried when presented with it as I had been raised to not waste food and to finish my plate when I am a guest. They ended up calling my mum who informed them I had been hoping to finally get some burgers or pizza, not a rather poor attempt at a meal I was very used to. Mum still maintains that without her intervention, it could have been much worse for us and I agree.

Dad and I, Grenada 2017

My father is a complex man, and whilst I may love him all the time, there are many times that I have not liked him very much. I often refer to him as Thomas as he automatically doubts EVERYTHING I say from the get go. As a child he would play a game with me and my little sister, whereby he would put money in one hand, and an insect (often a grasshopper) in the other. We both had to pick a hand and the winner got to keep the money, the other faced the bug. The absolute most and I couldn’t tell you exactly what he was trying to teach me, maybe that nothing in life comes for free?!  But I think we were too young to fully understand or care about that lesson. 

My father is also the man who asked me when I came home to discuss my year 2 SATs results where I got all 7s, why I didn’t get 10s. No congratulations or well done, my mother had to tell him that I had got the highest grades available to me, 10 didn’t exist. Much of my childhood went like that. I found that I was always having to work twice as hard as anyone else (siblings included) to no avail. In fact, while I freely hear him tell his grandkids how much he loves them I can count on one hand or even a few fingers the amount of times I have heard him say that to me in my life. I KNOW he loves me, he has shown me in a myriad of ways. From driving or walking me around my paper round route aged 13 when I had decided I wanted a job and the shop wouldn’t let him quit on my behalf. To purchasing whatever I wanted to wear as uniform when I changed schools for Sixth form (My teacher called me chic in the year book), to sending myself and my little sister home to the Caribbean at the expense of not being able to go himself. 

My parents, my brother, sisters and I.

But our relationship is complicated. When I wanted to take religion as an A Level option, he told me no because I wasn’t going to be a nun. Fast forward a year and my little sister was allowed to take RE as an option with no conflict or intervention. When I wanted to study English and creative language at University, he told me that I had to study Law or he would not pay my tuition fees. Now this was no hard choice, I had always loved the law, loved to debate and from the moment i could comprehend that as Adults you needed to have a career, I proclaimed that I would be both a writer and a lawyer. My younger sister came along and was allowed to study English and Drama at university, I admit that this left me a little bitter but Dad didn’t pay her tuition fees.  I toed the line as a child as I never wanted to upset my parents. I never missed a day of school, no matter how much I hated it, earning the 100% achievement awards for every year of my education. I was always held apart and to a higher standard to my peers and my siblings.

Me, Lockdown in Grenada, April 2020.

My childhood was sprinkled with debates amongst my parents, who would argue which island I would go into politics on. They had high hopes for me. My mother would argue that I should go into politics in Dominica as my cousin was Dame Mary Eugenia Charles, the first woman lawyer in Dominica and the first and only female prime minister to date. My father on the other hand would just as fiercely fight his corner, having left Grenada as a young adult he had his own ideas of the things he wanted to see changed on his island and how I could be the vector for that. I never understood the drive that they had to see me effect change in their own islands, until now, as I move through my forth lockdown month in the Caribbean. 

A black parents love is the toughest that you will encounter on this Earth, how the world treats us leaves no room nor allows for anything else. My parents love has taught me to think ‘So what?’, anytime that I may wallow in self pity at the inequalities of it all. It has given my core a teflon strength that has weathered all storms and holds true to today. As I think back to all the things I disliked or wanted to change about my childhood I am firstly grateful. Life will not get any easier unless people take action. My parents love has taught me that even when I get knocked down 10 times, I must still get up 11. So while a black parents love is tough, know that my love, the love of a black child they raised, is not! 


Jill Scott broke my writers block….an open letter of thanks

Dear Jill,

Listening to you on your Verzuz live with Erykah Badu, the sealed cap on a can of worms I’ve been ‘nesting’ for 10 years popped off. 

And whilst I may, I’d like to give you credit in this letter for the words you said when Erykah questioned you, as the push, kick and shove I never knew I needed. It was witnessing the emotions that your words had on you and the world that really made a difference.

Many of the issues I unpack are freshly scabbed or still open wounds. I often battle internally with finding the balance between – the fine line of doing what’s needed to let them heal versus revisiting them which can sometimes make the damage worse. 

You told Erykah and the world that when God gives you a gift you should use it. I felt that. For much of my life I would wonder what my talent was. I took my ability to write and emote feelings for granted. I held no bravery or courage to pour out the words that would often sit too heavy on my heart. Instead I would twist what I felt and use it to write fiction.  Your deeper explanation that once those thoughts and words leave you, gives you a greater responsibility to share with the world, runs deep. 

I have been writing since I could hold a pen, composing my first story aged 5. Whenever anyone would ask me ‘Why do you write?’ I would always respond with “That’s like asking why do I breathe!’  Yet  even with that knowledge I found that one day I held that breath, and didn’t let it go. That day then became a week, weeks became months, months became years and before I knew it I was looking at the other end of a decade that had passed me by. With the recent murder of George Floyd I am reminded that when you cant breathe, you die.

I always say everything in God’s time. I believe that his time is now. I am writing again and using the gift that he has given me to raise awareness to the racism and oppression that black people experience all around the world. You sparked a fire that I now proudly let burn.

So please feel my heartfelt gratitude, as I once again say thank you!

Kristina x 


There is nothing new under the sun, is an idiom I heard often growing up, and something I still agree with to a certain extent. Life is cyclical. It can be used to describe cycles within all areas of life, in nature and fashion amongst others. And in this case it also applies to the treatment of Black men at the hands of the police. 

On 17th July, 2014, Eric Garner died in New York after being put into a chokehold while being arrested by Daniel Pantaleo. He was murdered. What happened to his killers? Nothing. Eric Garner lost his life and we saw no indictments. In fact his killer remained a cop and was only fired and stripped of his pension benefits in August 2019. Five whole years after Erics death but no justice.

However, there is nothing new under the sun. So lets fast forward nearly six years. 

On 25th May 2020, George Floyd died in Minnesota after Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck, subsequently killing him whilst arresting him with three other police officers. He was murdered. His killers were caught in action on film, from multiple view points. Yet despite this, the initial decision was to simply fire all four police officers and no arrests were made.

‘I cant breathe’ were some of the final words issued by both Eric and George. Both of these instances triggered mass outrage, anger and despair amongst both the black community and throughout the world. Both of these events triggered Black Lives Matter protests.

I have seen many people ask what is different now? What has changed? We are no less outraged today than we have been in the past, witnessing the murders of our people at the hands of the police. We are no less angry, nor is the despair we feel any less then before. So let me connect the dots for you.

On the 1st December 2019, the world witnessed the first outbreak of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with the index case being recorded as coming from Wuhan in the Hubei province, China. COVID-19 is thought to be primarily spread from person to person during close contact ‘most often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing and talking’. According to WHO, some of the common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of sense of smell. With complications such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on the 11th March 2020 by the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

As this virus swept across nations, crossed borders and navigated seas, suddenly the world found out that WE CAN’T BREATHE. COVID-19 didn’t care if you were White or if you were Black. It didn’t care if you were Chinese or if you were Italian, it didn’t care if you were American or if you were English. It didn’t care if you had just been born or if you were celebrating your 90th trip around the sun. We got to see that unlike humans, the virus did not discriminate. And while this was happening, we were losing black people in equally high numbers due to racism. 

But there is nothing new under the sun. The world has witnessed two black daughters publicly lose their black fathers due to racism. 

On the 4th April, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr , an African American, clergyman, civil rights leader and FATHER was assassinated. He was survived by his four children Yolanda, Martin, Dexter and Bernice. On the 25th May, 2020, when police murdered George Floyd, they too made his daughter, Gianna Floyd, FATHERless. In both instances the world was watching, and even as we see the footage with our own eyes, we are still expected to believe all the cover-ups and lies. 20 years from now when the children of all the black people killed as a direct result of racism are all grown up, society will play ignorant and pretend not to understand why issues still exist. They will cry victim, all while knowing that in standing aside, they are continuing this vicious cycle of racism and oppression. Just know we have seen you plant the seeds, and we know you have generously watered them too.

On 28th May 2020, I saw a picture going viral on the internet and across social media apps. It features Don Lemon and the headline “TWO DEADLY VIRUSES ARE KILLING AMERICANS COVID-19 AND RACISM”. So when you consider whats changed, well not much has. We have had pandemics before and we have had racism before. There is nothing new under the sun, after all. But you should also have considered that you couldn’t keep murdering and killing black people as we were being attacked on all fronts. Eric Garner couldn’t breathe, George Floyd couldn’t breathe, I CAN’T BREATHE but thanks to COVID-19 now neither can you!

Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

One of the most positive things to come out of the tragic murder of George Floyd is the mobilisation and unification of black people internationally across the world. It is encouraging to see others join us as we stand, march, kneel and lie down in peaceful protest against racism and the mistreatment of black people everywhere. 

Only good can come from people speaking up, speaking out and effecting change so that we can break the cycle and see a different world for future generations. I too have been using my gift and voice in an attempt to assist with this. But there is a darker side to everything that is happening. 

Firstly, I would like to touch upon the frequent volleying of the phrase “All lives matter’, whenever anyone says ‘Black Lives Matter. To be frank, it is equal measures of ignorance and arrogance that has people spouting that phrase. They know full well that there is no correlation between the two phrases because that would require you to say that we are all equal. In reality, given the choice to spend just one day of your life having to live how a black person lives, you wouldn’t take it. This is not a competition, this is our lives. We do not get the choice in not spending a second of any day being black. I am black, black before I am anything else. It is the first thing that someone notices upon meeting me. So please, kindly shut up, if when you hear someone say Black Lives Matter, your tongue itches for you to say All lives matter. DON’T.

Secondly, this is not a fad or a phase for us. When a couple years have passed and this is no longer a little pet project for you; It is still going to be the reality for us. This is neither a nightmare or dream that any black person on earth can wake up from. Do not trivialise how any black person feels about any of this. We do not need you speaking over us, ridiculing, sidelining or excusing away anything that we have experienced as a direct result of racism. 

Thirdly, do not use our agenda for your own gain. Hijacking a cause which is trying to prevent the future murders of a historically oppressed and disproportionately prosecuted group of people is extremely repugnant. I am seeing industries, corporations and people who are known to have been anti black, anti black lives matter or covertly/overtly racist in the past try to ride the PR wave of what is happening. We are not blind. We see you and we also see what you are trying to do. So to the NFL that blacklisted and actively pushed Colin Kaepernick from the league for merely taking a knee in peaceful protest we do swallow your lies anymore then you do. You fool no one when you say you are ‘committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs, and partners’. I would in fact go one step further, and call for the immediate resignation of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. If we were talking loss of funds and not active systemic racism, the board and shareholders would have already made you step down. Poor management should have the same consequence. And to Ryan Michaels, the paper that your apology is written on isn’t even worth using to wipe my arse. Please read the room and take a seat. We do not need your disingenuous platitudes and excuses as to why you treated ‘Kaep’ the way that you did. Familiarity with his name does not make you more endearing to us, in fact it disgusts me further that you could treat someone like you did. Especially when you know them well enough to give and use a nickname like that. You are tone-deaf! I should say tone death, as your claim that you were defending those that died for the flag is bullshit. Black people died for your flag, your country was built on the backs of slavery, and oppression.This country that you claim to be so proud of isn’t even yours and its always seemed very cheeky for me to hear white Americans label everyone else when they themselves are the intruders in this story. So as I call for the NFL to assist in permanently shutting you up by removing your platform I say this. You have the blood of #GeorgeFloyd and countless others on your hands. If not for YOU and others like you we may have seen changes and a movement into the right direction. You are part of the PROBLEM and consciously chose to be so! You want to apologise now? It is up to ‘Kaep’ as you affectionately call him whether he accepts this poor excuse of an apology, but for me? I say 4 years too late! 

Do not think they are the only brand that has tried to pull the PR stunt. L’Oreal, talk to us because something is not quite adding up. You might have the memory of Dory from Finding Nemo, but I can tell you now that we don’t. For you to post onto your socials that ‘Speaking out is worth it’ when you are the very same company that fired trans-model Munroe Bergdorf as a direct consequence to her speaking out about racism, is audacious to the nth degree. So to all the brands trying to spin PR out of this, we see you. YOU fool no one but yourselves, and when I get a bit more time I am coming to call out each and every one of you. 

Fourthly, you may have noticed my posting yesterday where I asked black people now speaking up about racist treatment that they had in the workforce what is different for them now. I didn’t get a response from anyone, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting to. I think that it is fantastic that people are speaking up now, that they feel comfortable enough to speak up now. However, I would like to know if anything has changed for them now. For me, I have always been quite vocal on things that displease me. Suffering with both social anxiety/ general anxiety and panic attacks, I am the first to admit that speaking up and speaking out is not easy. Despite that, the experiences of my youth and childhood have left me unable to accept being a victim or allowing someone else to treat me as such. If one thing doesn’t change, nothing will. Speaking out was never a bed of roses for me, it was never without repercussions. Every action has a reaction, mine non withstanding. So as I commend each and everyone of you who has bravely chosen to speak out now, I also query what you did. We are seeing you list how you were treated and I want to know what, if any action you took after. 

Lastly, I would like to touch upon a group of issues that fall within this. 

To the people that look to black people for entertainment, we are not your entertainment. If we choose to enter those fields that is our choice, do not look to us during this time to put a smile on your face.

To the people that are using some of the confusion right now to cause chaos. Stop it. I am happy to see so many of you get the recognition you deserve as social media and the internet leads to consequences and the law catching up with you. 

To the propagators behind the racist hashtag #WhiteOutWednesday, we choose not to see you and I will acknowledge you no further. 

To those that have reached out to me asking for my take on this, or wanting me to check their work or help them write something. I have no answers and can only tell my point of view. I will end by saying that some people should be interviewed to tell their stories and others should tell them themselves. So as I watch this unfold with the rest if the world, know that we see it all and we wait for the real slim shady’s to stand up!


Why can’t some African Americans accept the love, concern and support from their international peers?

No man is an island. That is a phrase I was often told in my youth and as a child. I found it hard to navigate the fine line between being independent and self-reliant versus accepting help and support when I needed it. It was not congruent to another phrase that I was also repeatedly and concurrently told – You were born alone and you will die alone. That is a heavy weight to carry. As an adult, it is still something that I struggle with navigating. We often hear that if you want something done right then you should do it yourself.  

So lets break this down. No man is an island. 

In the most basic of senses, I understood that no-one is ever truly 100% self sufficient. As a child I had an unhealthy obsession with watching the news, and as an adult not much in that regard has changed. I have always felt too much. Watching the current state of affairs in the world, namely America, these past couple weeks (not discounting all the years of struggles and oppression) has weighed heavy on my heart. It hurts. The pain is relentless. There is a stain on my heart and a void left on this earth from the loss of every black life prematurely and violently taken due to racism. 

I am black. The world, at face value, looks at and treats me the same as it does you, due to the colour of my skin. I always say black is black. There is no option for me to decide that I am not, nor is it something that I would change even if I could. I recognise that while the world sees me as black first, America sees me as British first and that is a privilege I do not dismiss or take lightly. I have been aggressively stopped by police in New York only for them to hear my accent and then witnessed the entire tone of the interaction change faster than they can say ‘oh you’re British!’. But I still see your struggles and still feel your pain. 

My obsession with watching the news has brought the following headlines from my peripheral vision, out to front and centre:

Viral video of black man’s arrest sparks outrage – CBS News. 6th March 2020

White driver guns down unarmed black man following car crash, police say – Fox23 News. 7th May 2020

Fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery is being investigated as a federal hate crime – Metro. 26th May 2020

What the arrest of a black CNN journalist on air taught us. – The Guardian. 31st May 2020

The world is watching with me as all of this is unfolding. International press is reporting what is happening. But that is not what brings it to my doorstep. I have a favourite cousin, she is American. I come to America EVERY year to visit her and celebrate her birthday with her. I have aunts, uncles and other family members in America. I have friends across America, and it is a constant worry for me that I may one day turn on the news or open a newspaper and see one of their names in the headline. But even without these bonds and connections I still worry and hold concern for every black person in America today. 

No man is an island.

I have shared the news articles and posts in relation to the racism, oppression and injustice that African-Americans experience everyday on all of my socials and was shocked at the aggression and abuse that was directed at me as a consequence. I was told that my concern and empathy were not real and that it was essentially an American problem and none of my business. My American friends and family are some of my favourite people on this spinning globe we inhabit. It is ignorant and counter productive to tell me that my outrage at black people dying as a consequence of rife racism is fake or disingenuous. You would have to be a racist or sociopath for none of it to affect you. 

Before I knew that my support would enrage some African Americans, I tweeted the following:

“Black people are magic. Do you know how unstoppable we would be if we just stopped fighting each other?”

I did not choose to be Black British, any more than you chose to be African American. In 2016 I witnessed Black British people assemble and march to demonstrate against the deaths of numerous African Americans by police actions, including those of Bruce Kelley Jr., Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Joseph Mann, Abdirahman Abdi, Paul O’Neal, Korryn Gaines, Sylville Smith, Terence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott, Alfred Olango, and Deborah Danner, among others. I saw first hand the power in unity, and began to fully comprehend that while we might not live on your land or in your country, when your hearts are bleeding, ours are too. 

There can be benefit in the addition of international awareness and pressures. Throughout history nations have gathered together to enforce change. Just look at the Nuremberg Charter, international sanctions have always been utilised to defend against threats to national security interests, protect international law and defend against threats to international peace and security. 

To conclude, all that I ask is the next time you see a black person who is not American sharing posts and trying to bring awareness to your struggles, that you don’t abuse or ridicule them. If what they are doing is not constructive or conducive to your cause please show them with kindness and manners. You can certainly tell us that we would never last a mile in your shoes, but if we are asking to try, LET US WALK. 

Yesterday in the UK, thousands of activists marched on the US embassy in London demanding that justice be served for George Floyd. 23 Arrests were made as a direct result. We are with you, you are not alone. The UK has long since been an ally to the US. On the 6th June 2020, they will march again down to parliament in peaceful protest against racism and police brutality in the UK and the US.

If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.  Tell us what else we can do to help.

To be Black AND British….

To be Black AND British

As a child, I shouldn’t have had to learn so quickly that ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’. But being Black and British, this isn’t a lesson you have the choice of skipping. I have seen a post be retweeted a lot on twitter in the past couple of days and also surface on Instagram in which people say ‘to be black is to research racism in a country before booking your holiday/vacation’. This got me thinking and I wanted to take a moment to express what being black and British has meant for me.

To be Black AND British….Means that before you learn about primary colours, you must learn that you will hated for the colour of your skin.

To be Black AND British….is to be called a liar at any given time and have to prove otherwise. Always guilty, until proven innocent.

To be Black AND British…is to have your primary school blame you for anything that has been broken even when you are not the cause. To have them sit you in timeout and have your peers stay silent rather than confess or speak up.

To be Black AND British….is to be told you are not welcome at children’s parties and that your ‘sort’ is not who parents would like as a friend for their child.

To be Black AND British…is to experience acts of random violence without cause.

To be Black AND British….is to be pulled out of a mainstream education class and placed into the special needs one, with no confirmation that I should be there or approval from my parents.

To be Black AND British….is to not speak up on the racism treatments and behaviours because you don’t want to make more work for your parents.

To be Black AND British…..is to be told by your teacher that you must be sensitive to the little boy in the class who doesn’t have a dad but to have your complaints of his bullying and repeated use of the ’N’ word dismissed immediately.

To be Black AND British….is to watch the school label your older brother as a trouble maker because he is black but disregard the racist bullying he was subjected to by his peers. To say he is just a naughty boy and make my parents jump through hoops to get him recognised as dyslexic. 

To be Black AND British….is to see your sister distance herself from you in the playground so that she doesn’t unwittingly get the same ignorant racist behaviours as you.

To be Black AND British….is to have a peer of yours bully your sister whilst also telling you they wish they were black because they really like watching Moesha, Keenan & Kel and Sister sister! 

To be Black AND British….is to have your teacher always wanting to discuss St. Lucia with you, even though you are not from that island nor have you ever been.

To be Black AND British….Is to have another student lie about you punching them in the face and for them to run with that lie and only listen to you after escalation and you have cried due to the threat of suspension/expulsion. Its having your own parent, question if it is true because the schools is so confident.

To be Black AND British….is to be constantly belittled by your maths teacher. For her to tell you that you are going to fail the higher paper and drop out the bottom. To have here block you from moving from second set to top set, even though you are predicted an A.

To be Black AND British….is to be asked if you can trace your ancestry before the school will consider giving you admittance. A kick in the teeth considering the global misplacement of black people due to the international slave trade.

To be Black AND British….is to never have celebrated Black history month in school.

To be Black AND British….is to be told that you cant join critical thinking because you don’t have the grades for it. And when you point out that you have an A* in English and in History, and As in other subjects, that actually, you just aren’t the right fit. 

To be Black AND British….is to hear teachers in your school calling your Black peers monkeys with full impunity. 

To be Black AND British….is to be labelled a trouble maker and given a warning when you act out because a teacher is always acting inappropriately towards you. 

To be Black AND British….is to be told that you have to represent your county in athletics because its the sport of your ‘people’. 

To be Black AND British….is to have certain demographics interested in you purely to satisfy a fetish that they have or to hear people joke about how they want a ‘cute brown baby’ as if its that simple.

To be Black AND British….is to know better then to choose certain destinations and countries for a holiday because their racism is too rife. 

To be Black AND British….is to witness the shock on an employers face when you walk into interview after they have seen you on paper and heard you on the phone.

To be Black AND British….is to be policed by everyone in the office, to be reported to HR when you return one day later from holiday then expected even though your line manager has approved it. To be actively bullied in the office and have claims regarding said behaviour be dismissed by HR as an accident. 

To be Black AND British….is to have the head of HR in an international company tell you that you have made up having anxiety, that is convenient and doubtful and to prove it. Only to have your offers to prove it with medical certificates rubbished away. 

To be Black AND British….is to constantly say, please don’t touch my hair

To be Black AND British….is to have a SVP ask you intrusive questions about if your hair is a wig, weave or extensions because he has a new black assistant and has been reading up.

To be Black AND British….is to keep your hair relaxed and straight to better fit into corporate environments.

To be Black AND British….is to be hired for a job with the knowledge that they are just making up the diversity quota.

To be Black AND British….is to be repeatedly have your health concerns dismissed and your be sent about for A&E 5 times with internal bleeding, leading you to use private health care to get help.

To be Black AND British….is to never be able to win. To be questioned when you arrive at the office on time, to be questioned when you arrive at the office early. 

To be Black AND British….is to be told to go back to where you came from, even as you stand a few hundred yards from the very hospital that you were born in. 

To be Black AND British….is to witness the press viscously tear down Meghan Markle when she should have been celebrated to the same standard that Kate was.

To be Black AND British….is to always be followed around shops and stores by the security guards without provocation. 

To be Black AND British….is to be told to be grateful because the UK isn’t nearly as racist as other countries, and that if we don’t like it we should go elsewhere.

So the next time you think to ask a Black British person to prove that the UK isn’t racist, consider why it matters to you so much. Why you would rather ignore something which has been repeatedly proven through British history to be an issue. Why would you look for already known answers from a society that excused it away with buzz words such as “institutional” in a country that dragged out the prosecution of Stephen Lawrence for 19 years and yet the same system has flung £11.75m to date on finding Madeline McCann. 

To be Black AND British….is to always be expected to turn the other cheek, now there are no cheeks left. No more. We are done.