A “racial awakening” is the term used in The Psychologist this month to describe what is going on with Black Lives Matter (BLM) at the moment….it’s not just about the George Floyd incident – bad though that was – but also about the effect the coronavirus has had on the black communities and all the microaggressions that racism causes, which has an impact on people and can cause trauma in black people similar to PTSD. The BPS and the Cof E – both organisations that I am involved with have finally woken up to doing something about it…Obviously the UK is different from America – but we are certainly not innocent – look at the way the British press treated Meghan Markle…and despite the Macpherson enquiry in 1999, the British police are still institutionally racist too.
What can we do? – apart from setting up / helping diversity task forces within our organisations and affirmative action, I still think that making people aware of their unconscious biases is helpful too (despite the mixed evidence to support this). It certainly worked for me – I was trained in this when I was undergoing my teacher training in the 1980s and it has helped me to recognise my own prejudices and also to challenge other teachers and my clients when necessary. So reading around the subject can help, for example I have recently read “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo (which I would recommend despite it being v American).
You may wonder why, as a white woman, I think I can write about this, but for me it’s also personal, as my niece and nephew are mixed race…however I hope overcoming racism matters to all. Also I hope that any of my clients may feel free to talk to me about these issues and if they are black that they can feel free to challenge me on anything I might say or do that makes them feel uncomfortable.