After a headline-making racism incident at Buckingham Palace, you might be curious to know more about Ngozi Fulani, the Sistah Space charity director who was subject to alleged offensive remarks.
What was intended as a day to raise awareness for gender-based violence at Buckingham Palace took a turn after an incident involving a member of staff. Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of the charity Sistah Space, was among guests invited by Camilla, Queen Consort, to a reception at the palace on November 29, 2022.
If you are just learning about Ngozi Fulani and her work with Sistah Space, here’s what you need to know.
Who is Ngozi Fulani?
Ngozi Fulani is currently the chief executive of Sistah Space, a charity based in east London.
Fulani was born and raised in Kilburn, in northwest London, but relocated to east London in her adult years. She obtained a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s in African Studies from SOAS in London. This was between 1996 to 1999.
Besides her work in the charity sector, Fulani also worked as an African dance teacher. She ran the Emashi Dance ensemble, as well as teaching traditional African dance and folklore. “We took young people to Africa every year to learn about their culture and their roots. I did all of this whilst meeting my partner and having my children,” Fulani explained in a profile on her life and work.
Ngozi Fulani’s work with Sistah Space explored
Sistah Space is a UK-based charity that supports women of African and Caribbean heritage who are facing domestic and sexual abuse.
The charity was founded in November 2015, the year after Valerie Forde and her 22-month-old daughter ‘RJ’ were murdered by Forde’s former partner. A petition for a “Valerie’s Law” was discussed by parliament earlier this year. This law sought “specialist training mandatory for all police and other government agencies that support black women and girls affected by domestic abuse.” It was debated on March 28, 2022.
The Valerie’s Law petition was hosted by Sistah Space, with Fulani leading efforts to get the law in place.
Sistah Space offers women a safe haven and is the only domestic abuse charity in the UK that caters specifically to women of African and Caribbean heritage. Sistah Space addresses these women’s specific needs by “tackling the intersectionality of racism and gender based violence,” as explained on their website.
Fulani was invited to Buckingham Palace to celebrate Sistah Space
The event was held to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. It is part of a wider event taking place, the UN 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.
Fulani shared what happened to her at Buckingham Palace the morning after the event. On November 30, Fulani wrote on the Sistah Space Twitter account: “Mixed feelings about yesterday’s visit to Buckingham Palace. 10 mins after arriving, a member of staff, Lady SH, approached me, moved my hair to see my name badge. The conversation below took place. The rest of the event is a blur.”
Fulani shared the alleged conversation which took place between her and Lady SH. It involved repeated questioning about where Fulani is from and questions about her heritage, despite Fulani’s deflection of the questioning.
Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, tweeted in solidarity: “I was right there. I witnessed this firsthand. We were at an event that was supposed to celebrate our work.”
Fulani reportedly told LBC in an interview on Wednesday, November 30 that she would be “happy to have a conversation to bring about a positive solution” with the royals. However, Fulani added that she felt “violated” and “interrogated” by her experience at Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace issues response as Lady SH resigns
Since the incident came to light, Lady Susan Hussey, 83, apologized and resigned from her honorary position as a lady of the royal household. Lady Hussey has served as one of the late Queen’s longest-serving ladies in waiting and is also Prince William’s godmother.
Buckingham Palace described the remarks as “unacceptable and deeply regrettable,” as per the BBC’s report. A spokesperson for Prince William added that “racism has no place in our society.”
If you have found this article disturbing, the Department of Psychology at the University of Georgia offers advice on dealing with racial trauma, which you can access here. The Counseling Center at the University of Illinois offers counseling on coping with race-related stress, which you can access here.
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website. For the UK, you can visit the Refuge website here, or Women’s Aid.