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‘How much racism happens in pharmacies that we don’t see?’

C+D clinical editor Naimah Callachand wonders how many other pharmacists have also received racist microaggressions in the workplace

Coming from a mixed-race background, the global anti-racism protests and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on different ethnic groups have been weighing heavily on my mind. My dad is from Mauritius and my mum is Northern Irish, so I always felt a bit different growing up in predominantly white Northern Ireland.

Throwaway remarks such as “half-caste” or “the brown girl” are just a couple of the things I was called while working as a locum pharmacist in Belfast. They trigger thoughts like “is this how people see me?” and “do I fit in here?” Perhaps it’s just a lack of understanding from colleagues and patients that these phrases are not acceptable.

Acts of prejudice can be less explicit. When patients have asked to speak to the other pharmacist, I often wondered if it was because they were more comfortable speaking to a white pharmacist – or were their remarks causing me to overthink?

These microaggressions made me reflect upon and even question my identity. They sometimes got in the way of me doing my job as a locum pharmacist.

In a C+D survey about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak of 1,018 pharmacy professionals – which ran from April to May – several respondents highlighted racism as the worst kind of abuse they receive from patients.

I have been one of the lucky ones to get away with only the odd remark about my ethnicity. But it’s got me thinking: How much racism is really going in pharmacies that we don’t hear about or see?

The anti-racism protests that have been held all over the world over the last few weeks have really brought to the forefront the inequalities that black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are facing. By highlighting how these issues exist in pharmacy, I’m hoping to take one step towards stamping out racism in the sector.

C+D wants you to share your experiences with us in a survey. This is our time to stand up to any discrimination that is affecting our pharmacy teams.

If you’d like to share your experiences of racism in pharmacies, answer our survey here.

By presenting a united front against abuse we can help to pave a path towards a future of racial acceptance.

Naimah Callachand is C+D clinical editor

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