A Change Of Direction
Updated: Jun 1, 2020
It feels like only a few minutes ago my friends and I were sat in my 3 rd year house,
figuring out how to write the email that would change our worlds.
In that same living room is where we first dreamt of ACMA: something positive to
grow out of all the pain and hurt, something that could become bigger than
ourselves. ACMA was born out of the need to ensure that no other Black students
ever felt as alone as we did. We wanted to build a community that could support its
members, answer the many questions we’d always felt went unanswered.
Roughly 5 years later, here we are: an organisation with members spread all over
the country, with dozens more hubs in the pipeline. We are so very far from alone.
So much so, that the other trustees and I recently found ourselves in the enviable
position of looking around us and realising that this amazing privilege and yes,
sometimes burden, we felt we were carrying alone has gradually been taken up by
dozens of different hands. At this point, it feels like for every hope we’d had about
medical schools carrying out their responsibilities to Black students, there are now as
many individual groups across the country fulfilling these hopes, equally invested in
connecting African and Caribbean medics, supporting students getting into medical
school and ensuring they stay there.
But where does that leave us? Do we still have a place? Is this the point where we
gracefully bow out and cede the field to other more energetic, more connected
We didn’t feel that was the right option, but we did accept that maybe ACMA’s aims
had to change.
Even back in the beginning, we felt that ACMA should exist outside of universities.
We’d always hoped that ACMA would be able to act not just as a support system for
students, but actively work towards correcting some of the systemic inequalities that
we saw around us. In the commotion of the last few years, some of that ambition
has- for better or worse- been placed on the backburner.
What better time to bring it back to the forefront than now?
Through ACMA, we hope to delve deep into our socially conscious roots. We want to
have meaningful conversations about structural inequality- what it means, how it
presents itself and, most importantly, what we can do about it. ACMA will be the kind
of organisation that challenges us to be thinkers, to challenge the status quo and
inspire others to challenge with us. We want ACMA to become the birthplace of a
generation of Black doctors who continually expand how we think about health.
We know it all sounds strange (but hopefully exciting too).
Still, rather than thinking of this as something new, consider instead that this is
ACMA truly embracing what it was always meant to be.
As always, together we’re building something amazing.
It’s good to have you with us.
Dr Shafqat Batchelor