Antoinette Fernandez

Bright Green is offering all the candidates standing to be on the Green Party’s list for the 2024 London Assembly election the opportunity to set out why they are standing and their vision for London. This article is published as part of that series. The full series of articles can be found here.

I grew up in Southwest London, and as unpopular as it is to say I come from a privileged background. But I chose a different path to my peers. I chose to step outside of my bubble and face the world head on.

Resultantly I have now lived in Hackney for fifteen years and have intimate experience of what it is to be a financially impoverished Black Londoner.

To live as an intersectional woman without the protection of wealth and privilege to shield me from the many injustices and issues that Londoners face every day.

I now know exactly what it’s like to have to fight for everything from employment opportunities to decent healthcare, to have to fight to be heard, seen and treated with any consequence.

I have worked as a photographer, a filmmaker as a bartender and a gallerist. I know how to communicate, motivate and manage people. I have lived in Europe and travelled to various parts of the world. I know how people live in Nigeria, America, in Germany. I fully appreciate the greatness of our city and understand its faults from both the outside and within.

Londoners need and want a Black Londoner to represent them. White Londoners want to see a Black woman elected to know unequivocally that they are not alone in their anti-racist beliefs. Whilst Black Londoners want an elected person who has a lived experience of what it is be a Black Briton.

After the horrors of 2020 it was hoped that the mini civil rights movement that happened afterwards would mark the beginning of the end of institutionalised racism in this country, but it hasn’t.

Black Londoner’s like Chris Kaba are still being shot and killed by the at best, unconsciously biased Metropolitan police, are still being subjected to racism not just in employment but also in education – recall the horrifying incident involving child Q, a Black girl from Hackney. In dating, Black women are seen as the least desirable partners according to dating app statistics.

In the fight to save our environment, despite the fact that the global south is most effected by the pollution stemming from the global north. The actions and voices of Black activists like the Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate are being dismissed, literally cropped out of images to highlight the involvement of their White counterparts.

In healthcare, it has been reported that Black British women are more likely to die in childbirth than white women (and any other race for that matter) and that we are disproportionately giving birth to stillborn babies. These facts fill me with horror that this is happening not just to women like myself, but that this could very likely happen to, me.

Just as we wouldn’t expect or trust a man to resolve women’s issues, Black people and people who desire an end to these injustices want an elected Black representative that they can trust to fight the life threatening issues affecting us. I use the word us because if it affects Black people’s wellbeing, it effects the wellbeing of our society as a whole.

We should also remember that many Londoners were born under colonial rule or have grandparents and parents that were born under these disgraceful conditions.

To truly start to resolve the deep wounds of the past that still affect not just how Londoners view London’s minority communities, but how we view ourselves. London needs to have Black political representatives, who are elected leaders in a party like ours, that genuinely wants to eradicate the inequalities stemming directly from slavery and the British Empire.

I joined the Green Party because it was no longer enough to just vote, protest in the streets or have challenging conversations with people from various walks of life. I am campaigning to be elected because I know that if I am, I have the ability to elicit truly positive change for everyone, to help forge a bright future where Londoners can happily live in sync with our environment.

My background, and the fact that I am quintessentially an English woman with an unabashed love of our land, and our traditions, means that I can easily communicate and appeal to Londoners who historically would never consider voting for the Green Party. From Tory voters in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, to Labour voters in Hackney and Brexit voters in Barking and Dagenham.

Throughout history Black female pioneers have been at the forefront of changes that benefit society as a whole. I aspire to be that woman for us.

The onus is now on you my fellow Green Party members, to help improve the party’s credibility and diversity issues. You can do this by electing a Black woman who wants to look to the future and fight for the opportunities that are still being denied so many of us. The security of safe and affordable homes for all Londoners. The opportunity to live a life that isn’t dominated and oppressed by having to focus solely on acquiring just enough money to survive.

I may not have as much experience within the Green Party as my fellow candidates, but I would be working alongside three brilliant and supportive councillors Zak Polanski, Sian Berry and Caroline Russell.

If we do not want our party to be seen as the British Museum of political parties, then voting for someone like myself who is passionate, with a fresh perspective might just be exactly what is needed.

Please feel free to reach out to me via Twitter @a4antoinette or Instagram @antoinettetoinette

I would love to discuss the issues that concern you most, and to learn from you and your experiences.

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