To mark the end of Black History Month, Preeya Bailie has penned a post to tell the commercial community about her family history below.
"October is Black History Month. Specifically, this year, the focus was turned to Black women with the theme, "Saluting Our Sisters." We set aside time every October to dive into Black History, but sometimes, the stories of Black women don't get the attention they truly deserve. We aim to shine a spotlight on these stories this year, and I wanted to use this opportunity to tell the commercial community a bit more about my family history, as I celebrate being a mother, a wife, a daughter and a mixed raced, Zimbabwean woman.
When celebrating my life, it’s important to me that I start with my parents. They were both born in Zimbabwe – my father’s parents came from India and, my mother’s parents, originally from Malawi and South Africa, and decided to settle in Zimbabwe. I believe they were destined to meet.
They met at the only high school in my hometown where Asian and “coloured” (the term used then to describe people of mixed raced heritage) students could attend. Whilst there was respect between the Indian and the "coloured" community, there was still a line of separation. My father’s parents forbid my dad to date my mother but it was too late – it was love at first sight. They dated, started working, saved enough for a little nest egg and ran away to the next town to elope.
My father’s parents disowned him and it was only years later, when my mother was pregnant, that she was acknowledged by the Indian community. With role models like my parents, I cannot help but be proud of who they raised me to be. When my brother and I were growing up, there weren’t many mixed race children around. The question I was asked the most was ‘what are you?’ Depending on how I was feeling that day, I would joke and answer ‘human,’ ‘a person,’ ‘a girl,’ or sometimes, I’d give the long explanation of my parents’ background. But sometimes I would be annoyed and say ‘I am just me! I am the best of both my parents.’
We often say we bring our whole self to work, and we do. Diversity and representation matter and as a leader of colour, empowering colleagues not to be held back by what makes them different, but to embrace it, is hugely important to me. Ghandi said, ‘Relationships are based on four principles: respect, understanding, acceptance and appreciation.’
As leaders, it’s so important that we encourage our colleagues to accept their own, and each other’s differences, to appreciate the diversity that people bring, appreciate what you can learn from others, and to encourage respect and understanding."
Date: 30 October