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Pioneering Change: The Journey of a Black Female Officer in 1983

“"By joining the police as someone from a black Asian or minority ethnic background, you are continuing to drive change from the inside as well as doing one of the most rewarding jobs in the world." - Jenny Donaldson”

Black Wall St. MediaContributor
Being a black police woman in 1983

In the annals of Black History, numerous stories of courage, resilience, and determination stand out.

One such tale is that of Jenny Donaldson, who embarked on her policing journey in the 80s, at a time when racism and sexism were rampant. As part of Black History Month, Jenny recounts her experiences, shedding light on the challenges she faced and the indomitable spirit with which she overcame them.

Joining the Metropolitan Police

1983 wasn’t a favorable year for a woman of colour to join the Metropolitan police. Jenny was often the lone female officer during night shifts in her entire district. At just 19, she was thrust into roles like looking after children during her duties, a task she found daunting.

Her early days were marked by the sharp sting of discrimination. An incident where her leather gloves vanished from her possession highlighted the hidden prejudices. Often, she would find herself wondering if the treatment she received was because of her gender, her race, or both.

Encounters with Discrimination

One of the most vivid memories from her training days was an incident at the Continuation Training Centre. The Sergeant used a derogatory term while framing a scenario, directing it implicitly at her. Jenny felt a surge of embarrassment. The Sergeant, challenging her resilience, remarked, “if you can’t take it here, luv, how are you going to take it on the streets?” Such incidents were not isolated. Racist comments, often followed by a feeble “present company accepted”, were not uncommon.

However, it wasn’t all gloomy. During a Christmas party at the Police Section House, when a colleague of Jenny’s was subjected to racial abuse, her entire team stood up for her. That day, she realized she wasn’t alone; she had allies who would stand shoulder to shoulder with her against prejudice.

A Career of Change

Jenny’s dedication to her role was unwavering. Despite the challenges she faced, she served the Metropolitan Police for 32 years. Every day, she used her position to challenge biases, misconceptions, and outright prejudices she encountered. Policing, for her, wasn’t merely a job but a platform to drive change.

The policing world has evolved considerably since the 80s. Jenny acknowledges that while a lot has changed, there is still much more to be done. However, she proudly notes that by the end of her tenure, instances of biases had drastically reduced.

An Inspiring Tale for the Future Generations

For individuals from Black, Asian, or minority ethnic backgrounds contemplating a career in policing, Jenny’s story is a beacon of hope. It underscores the importance of driving change from within. By joining the force, one not only embarks on a rewarding career but also plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the values of justice, equality, and fairness are upheld and propagated.

Jenny Donaldson’s tale is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the profound impact one individual can have in challenging systemic prejudices. Her journey reminds us of the importance of persisting in the face of adversity and laying down the foundation for a more inclusive and fairer future.

Black Wall St. MediaContributor

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