By Keelie Grindley
Sandbach BLM leader
Silence is compliance
“Silence is compliance and it is no longer enough to just not be racist. I have made the decision not to hide away in fear and speak up for anti-racism, even in the face of anger, resistance and hostility. I ask that you too, come out of your comfort zones and join me in doing so, to fight to protect the lives of our families, our friends, our children and ending institutional racism. Seeing you all here today gives me hope for a better future for my son and a better future for us all.”
Black women in Britain are five times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than white women. In Britain, after taking into account age, disability & other socio-demographic factors, black people are almost twice as likely to die from Covid 19 than white people. In mental health, black adults have the lowest treatment rates of any ethnic group at 6.2%.
Figures from 2018 show that black people were more than 4 times more likely to be detained under the mental health act that year when compared to white people with similar health problems. A 2003 inquiry into the death of David Bennett reported that black people are generally regarded by mental health staff as more aggressive, more alarming, more dangerous and more difficult to treat and instead of being discharged back into the community, they are more likely to remain on the psychiatric ward as long-term inpatients.
In 2016, a survey showed that nearly 50% of 222 medical students held false beliefs about biological differences between black people and white people. Those who had those beliefs perceived black people to feel less pain and were more likely to suggest inappropriate medical treatment for black patients according to the paper that was published.
Looking at these statistics, is it really that much of a surprise when we think about the cycle of dehumanisation that has been ongoing for hundreds of years? This dehumanisation of black people has created an unconscious bias in everyone, including healthcare professionals, the very people we trust with our lives, as institutional racism is so deep rooted into our everyday society.
I think it is about time that we wake up and be aware of what is happening underneath our noses, before more lives are lost. When are we going to stop blaming “underlying health conditions” on these deaths and be open to the fact that institutional racism and unconscious bias has a huge part to play?
Prejudice. What does it mean? Well, according to Simply Psychology, prejudice is an unjustified or incorrect attitude towards an individual based solely on the individual’s membership of a social group. For example, prejudiced views towards those of a certain class, gender, sexuality or race.
During slavery it was a well-known “fact” that the slave was incapable of feeling love, could not feel physical or mental pain and was inferior to white people in both body and mind. It was dehumanisation such as this that enabled slavery to even happen in the first place, as black people were likened to animals and were known for being inhuman. So, with that being said, next time you see a black person being killed by a police officer for no reason, or hear about black people being unfairly treated in other institutions such as healthcare settings, maybe now you will recognise that these are not just random acts. These things have been happening for hundreds of years.
If I were to talk to any of you here today that may hold prejudiced views against me because of the colour of my skin, I would start by saying that I do not believe that all of your prejudice is entirely your fault. The media constantly portrays black people as dangerous, criminals, athletes, entertainers and thugs. There has always been this constant perception that black people are under achievers, aggressive, loud and disrespectful. So of course, non-intentional and unconscious prejudice has a role to play when it comes to these racial ideologies.
Speaking of racial ideologies, I think it is important that everyone has at least a basic understanding of socio-historic contexts and the dehumanisation of black people. Then you will realise and understand that these ideologies were produced in the days of slavery and still have a massive impact on black people today, over 400 years later.”