Working Towards a Brighter Future
We have spent some time looking into some of the factors that increased the risk of the black community dying from Covid-19. We found that nearly every factor had a direct link to systemic racism.
Systemic Racism – Where race denies a group/s of people access to services and equal opportunity.
It was important for us to try and focus on some of the root causes that contribute to black oppression in the UK. If we directly work on closing the disparities between the black community and wider groups, we can create a self-sustainable community for the next generation.
As deadly as Covid-19 is, our research showed that it was trivial in comparison to the factors that have laid dormant for centuries. Our goal is to focus on implementing mechanisms that will help to obliterate systemic racism.
Let us breakdown four of the factors that contributed to the black community being high risk of dying from Coronavirus; these factors were also highlighted in the report into ethnic related deaths, conducted by the Government in June 2020.
We focus on the roots of systemic racism and not the symptoms.
Black people being over-represented on the frontline
Black people are over-represented in the lowest paid roles of the public sector industry. After the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, barriers that were put in place to deny black people a fair wage and an affluent life, still exist today.
It was quite normal for employers to openly admit that they did not want to employ black staff. Since the implementation of the racial discrimination act in 1975, denial of equality for black people became much more covert.
Educational resources were poor in black communities, with overcrowded classrooms and poor teaching quality; poor results for black children were inevitable. In 2018, according to Government figures, other than Gypsy Roma/Irish travellers, Black Caribbean’s scored the lowest GCSEs of all minority groups in the UK. (gov.ukethnicityfacts)
This often means that black Caribbean children will leave school early or they will enter into low level menial jobs that require no skills or qualifications. Even when qualified, black people are three times less likely to be offered a role when competing with a white person, and earn on average 21% less than their white counterparts.(Equalityandhumanrightscommission2020)
In June 2020 BAME groups made up 72% of Coronavirus deaths in the NHS and BAME Doctors made up 94% of deaths that effected Doctors.
According to the Mcgregor review:-
“Organisations keep their BAME representation clustered at the lowest level of the organisation and they will most often stay there having not progressed throughout the span of their entire career”.
Black people in the UK have the highest percentage of any minority ethnic group that work at entry level in admin, education and health care positions. Black people are less likely to challenge management who do not treat them fairly and are less likely to ask for feedback around why they are not being developed by Management. A large percentage have no development plan in place, infrequent 1-1’s and are rarely given promotional opportunities.
Black people are also less likely to apply for jobs where they meet 50% of the job criteria compared to white men who are likely to apply for roles where they only meet 33% of the job description.
We have put together some tips on how to develop in your organisation, please go to our Educational hub.
Pre-Existing Medical Illnesses
The main pre-existing medial illnesses found in black people who died from Covid-19 were heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. (BritishHeartFoundation2020)
Now while this may be a fact, diagnosing these illnesses often stops there, so let’s look at why these illnesses exist in the black community at such a high rate.
Research has suggested for decades across medical fields that black people are pre-disposed to these illnesses and may have a higher sensitivity to salts, but new studies have shown that this lacks evidence and may not be the case. It is most likely that you will have the same diet as your parents and your children, the same as you.
“Social advantage and inadequate medical care are obviously intimately linked to health and survival, yet in the case of black people these factors remain curiously overlooked by researchers”. (Angela Saini pg246 2019)
Mary Bassett warned that scientists were too often turning to biology to answer questions that could so clearly be better explained by social inequality. (The Lancetstudy2017)
According to Public Health England, deprived areas will have five times more fast food outlets than more affluent areas, leading to communities having a higher intake of salt and sugar. Families on low incomes are also more likely to eat foods that are cheap and available in their neighbourhoods.
Culturally, African and Caribbean meals tend to be high in starch. The West Indian diet will usually consist of rice and root vegetables. Slave masters fed slaves in this way to energise them through a long and laborious day. Buried into tradition, many of us still eat entire plates of starch which convert into high glucose levels.
We have collated a number of black health professionals on our educational hub, who can give advice on how to enrich our diets.
Research found on the National Centre for Biotechnology has shown that black people are less likely to receive extensive treatment, are less likely to be believed when expressing concerns about pain and are more likely to be turned away from a hospital.
“Extensive research has examined the psychological factors that might account for such biases, including status judgments, racial prejudice, and stereotypes about biological differences between Blacks and Whites. lower-level perceptual processes also uniquely contribute to downstream racial biases in pain recognition. We repeatedly observed that White participants showed more stringent thresholds for perceiving pain on Black faces, compared to White faces. A tendency to see painful expressions on Black faces less readily arose, in part, from a disruption in configural processing associated with other-race faces. Subsequent analyses revealed that this racial bias in pain perception could not be easily attributed to stimulus features (e.g., color, luminance, or contrast), subjective evaluations related to pain tolerance and experience (e.g., masculinity, dominance, etc.), or objective differences in face structure and expression intensity between Black and White faces. Finally, we observed that racial biases in perception facilitated biases in pain treatment decisions, and that this relationship existed over and above biased judgments of status and strength, explicit racial bias, and endorsement of false beliefs regarding biological differences”.
We also know that medical Centre’s in deprived areas are over capacity and under resourced.
As a result, we would like to set up a fit for purpose support line that assists those who are not receiving sufficient support from health professionals.
Environmental racism and overcrowding
Black people are often housed in areas that have poor quality environments. Environmental racism is a form of systemic racism whereby communities of colour are disproportionately burdened with health hazards through policies and practices that force them to live in close proximity to sources of toxic waste such as sewage works, pylons, landmines and main roads. As a result, these communities suffer greater rates of health problems.
If we look at the majority of areas in the UK that had the highest rates of Coronavirus during its peak, it highly correlated with areas that have the highest black and brown populations,
London, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Leeds and Manchester.
There are several growing charities lobbying the government and advocating for change in-regards to environmental racism, outside of this, we have to rely on education to protect ourselves as much as we can. We have created some tips on what to look out for when renting a property in a certain area, please go to our educational hub for more information.
We are in the first phase of our service and we hope that you will continue to support us and other grass roots organisations .