Stories of Men

Tinu cornish talks about her experiences of racism at school

Tinu Cornish on her experiences of racism at school

Tinu Cornish on her experiences of racism at school

In this episode of Our Voices, we hear about Tinu’s experiences of institutionalised racism at school. We also hear how Tinu came to recognise that a former teacher, who could have been her role model, fundamentally let her down.

Normalising racism

Tinu was raised in Norfolk in the 1960s. She is mixed race. Her mother was white British and her father was black Nigerian. As Tinu was growing up, racial oppression was rife within society. 

But Tinu never felt as if she could talk to her parents about the discrimination she would experience. “It was still part of the era where children are to be seen and not heard. You didn’t talk to your parents about anything because you’d get in trouble.”

A place of sanctuary

Racism at school, just as in other walks of life, was a common occurrence. Yet, Tinu did find a place of sanctuary in a particular group. She was an avid student of science and she found a group of kindred spirits in her physics classes. The person who really stood out for her during these classes was her teacher, Mr Brown. 

“He actually had a full brown beard. If you’ve ever seen pictures of Abraham Lincoln, that’s what he looked like.” What particularly struck Tinu about her teacher, however, was his sense of humour.

A genuinely decent person

An example of this could be seen in his attitude to classroom pranks. It became something of a feature of his classes that students would tamper with his experiments. One example was when Tinu added washing-up powder to a liquid when Mr Brown wasn’t looking. His surface tension experiment was consequently ruined.

 Talking about her teacher’s reactions to these pranks, Tinu says “He never got angry at us … He would just take it in good humour. I think he was a genuinely decent person who loved teaching us.”

Racism at school

Even though Tinu was the only person of colour in her science group, she always felt accepted there. This was in contrast to the racism at school she experienced more generally. The school was a massive building within which were large, open corridors.

Comparing her experience to that seen in American movies where the nerdy kids would be intimidated and jostled by the school jocks, Tinu describes the terrifying daily ordeal she would face. “We would be running a gauntlet of white kids who are calling out racist epithets.”

 Yet there was a difference between her experience and that seen in the movies. “No one did do the thing, which occasionally they do in American movies; where one of the teachers will come out and intervene and stop it all happening.”

Tinu posing for a picture with her family

Racial oppression

Tinu did not just witness racism at school, she saw it being tolerated by society more generally. No-one in Tinu’s family would discuss race, while racist comedians such as Bernard Manning were mainstream entertainers.

Tinu’s parents and grand-parents would even gather around the television to watch black and white minstrel shows. Her grandparents were both racist and misogynistic. Yet most people seemed to find this content funny. In Tinu’s words: “That was the culture.”

The only person Tinu was exposed to who was challenging and confronting racism was Bob Marley. Through his music, Tinu finally heard someone talking about fighting back. “That was the only thing that reached Great Yarmouth. And he was the one who was talking about racism… talking about standing up for your rights.”

A sombre reunion

Thirty years after leaving the school, Tinu came to learn that there would be a final reunion. Tinu had never attended any of the previous ones. She decided that she would go to this one in order to see the man who had been her favourite teacher. 

When thinking about Mr Brown’s classes, she had always regarded them as a safe haven from the constant experiences of racism at school. It was, therefore, with unfortunate surprise that she saw Mr Brown’s face fall upon seeing her. “He looked at me and he said, ‘I can’t believe you’re here, because they were so horrible to you.’”

working towards racial equality at workplaces

History unwound

Mr Brown’s reaction shocked Tinu into silence. It forced her to reflect on the reality of what had really been happening during her time at school. 

“It’s the moment where everything you thought you knew about something completely changes. They say when you’re dying that your life flashes in front of your eyes. It’s that sort of experience in reverse where basically you sort of unwind a whole history, a whole narrative.”

Turning a blind eye

Tinu had always regarded her teacher as having protected her from racist abuse. But the truth was that, while he had never been actively complicit in racism towards her, his inactivity had contributed to normalising the racism at school. “I suddenly realised that they all knew exactly what was going on, and did nothing to stop it.” 

Referencing the famous TV personality who was posthumously exposed as being a child abuser, Tinu refers to her teachers as being part of the “Jimmy Savile generation. They did nothing to protect children.”

Tinu Cornish's story of facing racism at school

Being anti-racist

It was this experience which helped Tinu realise the importance of not just being non-racist but anti-racist. This means taking an active stance against racism. “So a lot of people go around being non racist, and think that that’s fine, as long as they don’t say or do anything, but they’re not being anti.”

Fighting for racial equality in the workplace

Tinu believes that, even today, cultural and societal structures make it difficult for individuals to be anti-racist. As a result, she has dedicated herself to promoting anti-racism in her work as an organisational psychologist at SEA-Change Consultancy. Her focus is on improving racial equality in the workplace by providing education on racism and how to work against it. 

“I work with organisations that are doing research to try and improve by making sure that more black, Asian and ethnic minority people are engaged in what they’re doing, that they’re improving their experience at work, that they’re helping to ensure people not only come into organisations, but once they’re there, that they thrive and flourish, that they get promoted in proportionate numbers. So you could say that my whole career really is about fighting for racial justice in our organisations.”

“They did what they could”

Tinu is helping to take the battle for equality to the next level. This is where previous generations of good-intentioned people have failed. Yet, when she looks back on her time at school, there is still a part of her that appreciates what people like Mr Brown were able to do and the way in which she has prospered as a result.

 “I will always feel immense gratitude as well, that they did what they could within the limits of themselves as individuals and this society that they were in, and their understanding of what was going on.”

racial equality in the workplace

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Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3


Favourite Food: Potatoes

Favourite Sport: Wild swimming

Favourite Show: Anything Marvel

Favourite Movie: Anything Marvel

Favourite City: London

Hobby: Music

Favourite Book: Northern Lights


I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years


Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.


I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

 Experience in Industry: 5 years


Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

Favourite Sport: Rugby. I played from the age of 5 until 26 when a dislocated shoulder put me out of action. Still like to watch now though.

Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

Hobby: Listening to podcasts while on long walks with my dog Alfie.

Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt



Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  





Favourite Food: I love Indian food – My favourite dish is a Dansak. It’s a rich combination of hot, sweet and sour flavours, made from lamb and lentils.

Favourite Sport: I enjoy watching combat sports like MMA – Isreal Adesanya is my favourite fighter at the moment, due to his Tae Kwon Do base and speed. 

Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.


I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.



Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 

Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live 

I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!


Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.