What Will You Do, Beyond Words?
I’ve been lost for words over the murder of George Floyd. It brings to mind centuries of brutal racial injustices against black people in the world and it truly is devastating. My heart goes out to the victims and all who are in pain.
There’s clearly a ton of issues here— racism is pervasive but takes many forms which are sometimes easily dismissed — and though it can all feel like too much to solve, we each have an urgent duty to do something about it.
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I don’t claim to have all the answers — I don’t. And I certainly don’t expect any one person or organisation to solve everything — they won’t.
However, I’d like to highlight a few of the many inequalities black people face and encourage anyone that reads the list below to reflect and act on a duty-bound question: “What will you do?”
I’ve provided a suggestion in each area just to get ideas flowing, so no one has to take these on but I would encourage you to think up your own approach where possible and commit to it not just for today, but over the long term. And if you still struggle for ideas, consider setting up a monthly donation to an organisation that’s doing work in any of these areas (e.g. Kwanda)
- Black women in the UK are 5 times more likely to die in childbirth (There are countless stories of black people’s pain in hospitals not being taken as seriously as that of their white counterparts.)
- Suggestion: If you work in the medical profession or know someone that does, share this Instagram post with them to help raise awareness as a first step.
- UK black students are 3 to 4 times more likely to be excluded from schools. The USA has similar statistics. (Pretty much every black person I know has experienced some version of racism at school.)
- Suggestion: Volunteer to mentor kids (especially black ones) from disadvantaged backgrounds through organisations like the Access Project and Future Frontiers.
- People with African or Middle Eastern names have to make 80–90% more job applications to get a positive response despite their qualifications. (This is a stark reality even for the highest educated black university graduates.)
- Suggestion: Use tools that eliminate bias from the hiring process.
- Black people in England and Wales are 9 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police for drugs even though the ‘find rate’ is broadly similar across ethnicity. They also face harsher treatment if they possess drugs.
- Suggestion: Write to your MP about these issues. This website makes it easy and here are some tips on how to write a good letter. If your MP doesn’t support positive policy changes then use your vote!
- This study revealed that a healthcare algorithm used in US hospitals was less likely to refer black people to the appropriate care compared to white people.
- Suggestion: Recruit more diverse technical talent and support and work with organisations that are driving this change.
There are many more issues stemming from racism and individually, we can’t solve them all. However, I am hopeful that if we each choose a component to tackle today and persevere with our efforts over the long term (I’m focussed on tech and education), we will go a long way in truly changing things.