According to this study, students and midwives of colour are bullied much more frequently in practice.
26% of all midwives experience bullying, whereas 38% of midwives with heritage other than white British experience it.
This is everybody’s problem, especially in a world that seems to be less and less welcoming to diversity. It can't be just me who's thinking the political situation including Brexit, the USA (Trump, Charlottesville) is part of a big picture that is encroaching on the NHS. And many NHS staff from the EU are leaving the UK as they don't feel they're safe to plan out their careers and in many cases, don't feel welcome.
I was lucky to train at a multicultural Uni and was the only white person in my particular friendship group when I trained. As someone who went to a sixth form with I think only one black person in my year and a handful of people with Asian heritage, this was great. In fact, I didn’t want to train in Cambridge where I grew up because I feared it wouldn't be diverse enough.
I get really awkward talking about race because I’m white and therefore am privileged not to have had to deal with many of these issues personally. But the inequality was obvious...the dolls and dummies we practised on as students matched the colour of my skin. There weren’t any clients that didn’t like me because I looked different to them. Colleagues didn’t label me as ‘the Asian one’ or call me the same name as the other black midwife who worked at the trust. It was problematic and I had few tools to address it.
If we don’t acknowledge this stuff we don’t examine equality and what that needs to look like. It’s damaging to a profession that serves women from every background.
When I try and understand what it must be like to have a culture, appearance, history or heritage that some people don’t like, it makes me furious.
It’s something we should all be thinking about firstly because it’s the right thing to do and second because if an organisation is capable of discriminating, it’s not making the most of its staff.
It hasn’t been that long since white people were considered superior. There are some uncomfortable truths about suffragettes in the UK and their feelings about race and the story of women's rights in the USA was even more disturbing with outright racism towards black women up until the 1960s. Of course, there are hangovers left over from that. Let’s get these issues out in the open and talk about them properly.
I’m sorry we haven’t got it right so far. We have to work on this.
I know I’m not discussing this perfectly but I still have to discuss it. I really hope to talk about this in more detail at the conference.
Email me if you could educate me better on these issues or if you have anything you'd like to share.
Anyone with the skills, compassion and drive to be a midwife should be honoured.
To kindness in midwifery,
P.S. Info on the conference can be found here: The Kindness Conference.