Safety fears force Ngozi Fulani’s charity to pause work after palace racism incident

Sistah Space says many domestic abuse services temporarily halted after founder spoke of encounter with Susan Hussey

A charity led by a black domestic abuse campaigner who was asked where she “really came from” by the late queen’s senior lady-in-waiting has had to pause its operations because of safety fears.

Sistah Space said it was “forced to temporarily cease” working after its founder, Ngozi Fulani, spoke out about her treatment by Susan Hussey at a reception at Buckingham Palace. The charity supports women of African and Caribbean heritage who have been affected by domestic and sexual abuse.

Fulani said she had suffered “horrific abuse” on social media after speaking out about the incident, which she said felt “like an interrogation” about where her “people” came from.

In a statement on its Instagram page on Friday night, Sistah Space said: “Thank you for the continued support and messages. Unfortunately recent events meant that we were forced to temporarily cease many of our operations to ensure the safety of our service users and our team.

“We are overwhelmed by the amount of support and encouragement and look forward to fully reinstating our services as soon as safely possible.”

Fulani said Lady Hussey, who is Prince William’s godmother, had also moved Fulani’s hair aside so she could see her name badge.

Hussey, 83, resigned from her position as one of the ladies of the royal household, an honorary position, and offered her “profound apologies” for any hurt caused.

After the incident, Fulani told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I was stood next to two other women – black women – and she just made a beeline for me and she took my locks and moved it out of the way so that she could see my name badge.

“That’s a no-no. I wouldn’t put my hands in someone’s hair, and culturally it’s not appropriate.”

While some commentators have attempted to put the incident down to Hussey’s age, Fulani said the comments were a result of racism.

“I’ve heard so many suggestions it’s about her age and stuff like that and I think that’s a kind of a disrespect about ageism,” she said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Are we saying that because of your age you can’t be racist or you can’t be inappropriate?

“If you invite people to an event, as I said, against domestic abuse, and there are people there from different demographics, I don’t see the relevance of whether I’m British or not British. You’re trying to make me unwelcome in my own space.”

Asked how she felt about the resignation, she said: “I want the focus to remain where it should be, which is on the women and girls who are affected by domestic abuse.”

A spokesperson for the Prince of Wales has previously said the comments were unacceptable and that “racism has no place in our society”. Buckingham Palace has described the remarks as “unacceptable and deeply regrettable”.

The Mail reported last week that Buckingham Palace had invited Fulani to meet King Charles and Camilla, the queen consort, to address the incident.


Tom Ambrose

The GuardianTramp

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