The recent events in America are heart-wrenching. It is horrifying that we still live in a world where slavery’s legacy lives on, and people of colour are still treated as second-class citizens. We shouldn’t live in a world where the colour of your skin determines your opportunities in life, and the way you are treated by others. Nobody should be subjected to abuse because of their race.
We live in a society that favours white skin, although most of the population are not white. White people are overrepresented in film, TV and media, whereas people of colour are marginalised and underrepresented in a wide array of professions. White people are treated more favourably by the education system, the workplace, the healthcare system, and the police. In 2020, we still live in an institutionally racist society, where institutional discrimination still exists, and people are judged favourably or unfavourably based on their skin colour.
People of colour are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police, less likely to succeed in the education system and they are three times more likely to be excluded at school. They are often negatively appraised in job application procedures and less likely to enter high status professions as a result. The UK mental health system also contributes to structural racism; a 2003 report found that people of African Caribbean origin are more likely to be sectioned under the mental health act, more likely to remain a long-term inpatient instead of being discharged, and they are given higher doses of anti-psychotic medication than their white counterparts with similar problems. Research has suggested that practitioners hold biases towards people of colour; they are wrongly perceived as being more aggressive and difficult to treat.
It can be difficult to feel able to attend protests and speak out about these issues, when struggling with your own mental health. Try to remember that it is OK to feel that way, and quietly standing up for black lives matter, such as by having conversations with people around you about race, is also important. You don’t always have to shout to make your voice heard. You can always write letters, use social media, and sign petitions to protest too. Protests are important and it’s great to attend them, but if this seems an insurmountable task, try to be kind to yourself. Remember that speaking out to others, such as with friends and family is a step in the right direction as well, and there is a place for that too.
For more information around black lives matter, check out:
Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race – Reni Eddo-Lodge