Action for Race Equality is a charity with the mission to confront the institutions around them that are inherently discriminatory and racist. Deputy Chief Executive Tebussum Rashid immerses herself in this grassroots initiative and she has for almost 30 years. She got involved with the organisation after migrating to London from Pakistan and wanting to make a difference in the community.
“I think the politics of the country keep me going in the sense that it’s hard work because we constantly get that pushback,” Rashid said. “But recognizing that if people like us or organizations like us weren’t in this space, the discrimination would be worse.”
Just a year ago, the organisation rebranded to become a Black training enterprise group to focus specifically on policies concerning people of colour. The feeling of injustice is all too familiar to Rashid from her childhood.
“One of the things that has shaped me and in terms of what I do and my passion behind the work is a situation that I was faced with at quite a young age that stems back to the prejudices within communities and the social norms that I grew up with.”
In Pakistan where Rashid grew up, it is customary for young girls around age 17 to get married and not be educated. However, she was determined to break that cycle.
“I remember my resilience. Everything was against me, but I was determined,” Rashid said. “I was so wanting to pursue education and I loved reading.”
Not only did she pursue her personal education but she also passed her driving test at 17, which was rare for girls in her position at the time.
Action for Race Equality is another way for Rashid to make change in the world. So far, it’s been successful, but like many other organisations after the pandemic, they are short of staff members.
“We can only be in so many places at one time,” Rashid said. “As much as we need to be in those spaces, we can’t because of our capacity, which directly links to funding.”
With more funding in the future, Action for Race Equality will move into more spaces and lend a helping hand to even more communities in London that are in need.
Outside of Rashid’s work, she finds her own personal freedom through riding a motorbike.
“It is my main form of commuting into London. It’s my little world and I absolutely love it.”
Rashid is a changemaker in Central London. With more people like her, the world could be a better place.
Written by Naomi Washington, Creative Writer and Digital Media intern