You know those books that you read and feel yourself being changed? I think it's called 'internalisation'.
This is one of those. Especially if you're white.
Reni Eddo-Lodge is a journalist and author who wrote the book 'Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race'.
Her work focuses on racism and feminism. I think it's the exhaustion in her tone that gets me.
- A slogan put about by the Conservative government was 'if you want a n**** as your neighbour, vote labour' - this was 1985
- Black children get marked down in school
- But when their work is assessed independently under a white British sounding name, they get the grades they deserve
- Bristol was a slave port and the UK has a lot of its wealth from black slavery
- Black and ethnic minority women are five times more likely to die during childbearing.
It's a hard one. If you're white, you might be thinking 'well I'm not racist'.
I believe you. But we live in a society that's got racism baked into it. Not our fault. Still our responsibility.
Reverse racism hits the news sometimes. White people being at a disadvantage because people from a black or ethnic minority group are discriminating against them.
The problem is that reverse racism doesn't happen in a way that takes meaningful power away from white people.
White people might find themselves in a single situation - say working for an ethnic minority family who pass them over for a promotion in favour of someone from their own background - but that white person will have more many opportunities over the course of their lifetime based on their ethnicity.
Ethnic minority groups literally do not have enough people in positions of power to even begin to level the playing field.
I think it's so important for midwives and students to be aware of the tension and inequality that black and ethnic minority people face.
It's just that there's a huge bias that black and ethnic minority people have to fight against all the time. You can't really fight against sexism without understanding racism. You miss so much of the picture.
The problem is to understand race as a white person, you need to put your own way of seeing the world on hold. This is pretty much impossible. The only way to do it is to think of a time when you've been so frustrated that someone couldn't see the inequality in a situation.
For instance, many women will have had a conversation with someone who doesn't see the point of International Women's Day as there's no International Men's Day.
I've been in a situation where I've been frustrated to tears trying to get a guy to understand why International Women's Day is important.
The risk of FGM, pay differences, the tension women face balancing having children and a career etc. It falls on deaf ears. It's like it doesn't even exist.
This is what black and ethnic minority people are trying to tell us. There's a whole existence in parallel with ours as white people. We're blind to it.
It's not for me to tell anyone what to do but I'd encourage you to read Reni Eddo-Lodge's book, listen to her podcast, or listen to Sprogcast, the episode with Doula Mars Lord.
Listening and understanding is only fair.
But also, if like me, the best bit of midwifery or caring for others is the privilege of understanding their stories: there is so much more to learn.
So many more ways of existing in the world to get to know.
I find this exciting.
Now I'd love to hear from you.
Please comment, especially if you're from a black or minority ethnic group, especially if you think I've left anything out!
Or if you're white - do you already know this?
p.s. I don't feel wise enough to write this. But I have a platform and I'm white. Even if I get it wrong I need to be trying. Feel free to correct me and please know - if I have made mistakes or caused offence, this is due to my ignorance, not malice. I'll keep learning, I'm sorry I and others haven't noticed in a meaningful way until now and I'm LISTENING.