Rashida Hartley has recently been appointed as Diocesan Racial Justice Officer on a one-year fixed term contract, working 14 hours a week on Thursdays and Fridays.
Rashida was born and raised in Jamaica, before migrating to the UK in 1990. Her quest for knowledge transformed her life, taking her over oceans and across continents to live, and work in the UK, USA and the Middle East.
Rashida’s career path has encompassed a wide variety of roles spanning Human Resources, Education, Education Leadership and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
Before stepping into the role of Racial Justice Officer, Rashida provided leadership training in areas of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, including in education working with Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students.
Rashida has found that despite having numerous degrees – B.Sc. Honours, Master of Arts and Master of Science – she has personally experienced overt racism, discrimination and barriers to promotion throughout her career.
These experiences changed how she saw and understood the world, and led to her passion for promoting equality, diversity and inclusion and more recently a sense of the importance of belonging within all spaces that people occupy.
Rashida sees her role as a Racial Justice Officer as a significant opportunity for development within this field. For her, advancing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and belonging is about ensuring that every person is seen, valued and treated with dignity. It is, she says, how we honour our shared humanity, and nowhere is this more important than in the church.
Commenting on her new role, Rashida said, “I am absolutely delighted to have been appointed as Racial Justice Officer and have made a personal commitment to be relentless in bringing greater racial justice to the Diocese.
“I am very much looking forward to supporting Bishop Viv’s Racial Justice Task Group in delivering the commitments made by the Bishop in June 2020 and to monitor and ensure the progress of projects to make a real difference to under-represented communities.”
Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol added, “Working for racial justice is at the top of my agenda, and that of my staff team. Rashida’s appointment builds on the work that we have been engaged in for the last two years, including addressing the legacy of the historic trade in African people, rolling out unconscious bias training, and working to increase the diversity of our clergy and staff teams. However, there is more to do and I look forward to Rashida helping us take this work to the next level.”
In June 2020, Bishop Viv made a commitment to address issues of racism in the church and she committed to act with a renewed sense of urgency and determination to:
- Acknowledge and repent of the Church’s past involvement in and benefit from the slave trade.
- Challenge and address institutional racism, listening to and learning from the experiences of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.
- Recruit and support more Black, Asian and minority ethnic clergy, staff and volunteers.
- Make our churches truly welcoming to everyone, taking responsibility for the need for profound cultural change in our Church and;
- Work with others in the Diocese and the Church of England to make real progress in her quest for racial justice.
In order to deliver these commitments, the Bishop set up a Racial Justice Task Group which is supported by an Advisory Group.
The Task Group meets monthly and the Advisory Group termly. Together they oversee a number of projects that will be delivered by external partners or commissioned directly from qualified individuals.