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How the Black Lives Matter protests affect community pharmacy

Left to right: Mefino Ogedegbe, Elsy Gomez Campos and Martin Eguridu

Anti-racism protests in the UK in support of Black Lives Matter have inspired pharmacy professionals to focus on their treatment of black colleagues, UKBPA says

Following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, US on May 25, anti-racism protests swept across the UK, with coverage on national and social media that will have been impossible for pharmacy professionals to have missed.

Mefino Ogedegbe, UK Black Pharmacists Association (UKBPA) board member, says a side effect of the COVID-19 lockdown is that more people have been engaged with news stories about this unrest.

“Pharmacists are likely to hear about the numerous protests that have been going on globally and more locally and reflect on their own thinking and potential preconceptions about black pharmacists, [such as] having the assumption that they're less competent to do their jobs,” Ms Ogedegbe says in a C+D podcast.

Pharmacy professionals may also reflect on black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) people being more likely to face disciplinaries and recruitment bias, Ms Ogedegbe adds.

“If we can actually change the mentality of the people at the top of organisations, then this hopefully can filter down to employees at all levels so that they would be more empowered to speak up if they do see any forms of either direct or indirect racism in the workplace against their colleagues,” Ms Ogedegbe says.

Listen to the podcast to hear more from Ms Ogedegbe, as well as UKBPA president Elsy Gomez Campos and board member Martin Eguridu, on:

  • How pharmacy professionals can educate themselves about racial discrimination
  • Why pharmacy recruiters should blank out the names of job applicants
  • How some black people may be less likely to speak up if they have a problem
  • The importance of talking about white privilege without getting defensive
  • The UKBPA needing allies in pharmacy organisations

You can listen to the podcast below. Alternatively, subscribe to C+D's podcasts on iTunes or by searching “Chemist+Druggist podcast” on your preferred Android podcast app.

Please note, the sound quality of this podcast may be affected as it has been recorded remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak

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15 Comments
Question: 
How have you been affected by the anti-racism protests?

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Listen to the podcast to hear more from Ms Ogedegbe, as well as UKBPA president Elsy Gomez Campos and board member Martin Eguridu, on:

How pharmacy professionals can educate themselves about racial discrimination

Why pharmacy recruiters should blank out the names of job applicants

How some black people may be less likely to speak up if they have a problem

The importance of talking about white privilege without getting defensive

The UKBPA needing allies in pharmacy organisations

These all sound very good ideas. Lets hope that action is actually taken by those at the top, whether that be in government or at corporate level. As with most things in community pharmacy it will probably reduced to a tick box exercise.

With current events there might be enough momentum to get things changed. If not, those in power might see that the large number of black, Asian and ethnic minority professionals who work in community pharmacy, will no longer tolerate it.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

You know what - I don't think anything will change quickly as a result of all of this because racism is a mindset. I have used many BAME locums and to a man or woman, they have all been excellent and I have used them again wherever I could. However, I don't have a racist mindset. There are those who do and no amount of protesting will change a mindset. It's not a good thing but I think it is a fact. The only people who would be interested in education about racial discrimination etc are those who are not racist to start with. The ones who are will not be engaged with the process, indeed in the short-term I could see it making things worse. I have no idea what the answer to this problem is other than educating each new generation, hoping they'll take it on board and waiting for the old, ingrained racists to die out. Then there may be positive change. Lets hope so.

Andrew Jukes, Locum pharmacist

Hi Elsy, well done to your and your colleagues for promoting this important cause. Best of luck with your on-going work on this.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I actually think it is very demeaning to me for a quote like 'reflect on their own thinking and potential preconceptions about black pharmacists, [such as] having the assumption that they're less competent to do their jobs' to appear in this article. This implies that every single white person is automatically racist and I find that offensive. I treat everyone the same regardless of their skin tone. That is irrelevant. It's only their actions which count.

Thomas Wilde, Community pharmacist

That's why they use the word potential. If they were saying all white people are racist they would just say your preconceptions. 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Legalese. The implication is still there and it is offensive.

Shahid Khan, Pharmacy technician

Reflecting on my experience in community pharmacy, it seems to me that staff feel comfortable saying whatever they like. Racist, sexist and homophobic remarks have been made but the management is so exhausted and overworked that they don't have the energy to investigate. 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

The trouble is, Shahid, that a lot of the people we work with are of that generation (1970s) when racism, sexism, pretty much everythingism was mainstream, on the telly, in the media and on the street (look up any random 'Benny Hill Show' on Youtube - it'll tell you all you need to know about the 70s). That became ingrained into the personality, not as a deliberate racism but as a sort of passive but equally damaging racism. I was born in the 60s but formed by the 70s. I am guilty in the past of using language that would be totally unacceptable nowadays. It shouldn't have been acceptable then either but because of the climate of the time, it was. I have had plenty of contact with non-white people since (the important word here is 'people') and in no way am I racist. I take as I find and there is much to like (and dislike) in all races. But this is noticeably changing. Younger people are generally more tolerant than older ones (to different races at least - for other things the poor dears can't cope at all but that's another story for another day) and as each new generation comes along it is more tolerant than the last. You will NEVER get rid of bigotry completely because there will be always people on the fringes but on the whole, things are getting better. Go back 40-50 years and conversations like we are having now would be unthinkable. Change is happening but it is slow.

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I hope there recognition that racism affects ALL races and that the anit-racism protests and subsequent changes addresses this.

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

You're an 'all lives matter' type of guy. 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Benie - Mark is black. All he's pointing out is that BAME people can be just as racist as white - think Rwanda - one of the worst racial genocides in my lifetime and that was a tribal black on black issue.

There are areas in my town which are no-go for white people (as a direct quote from someone in one of these areas - 'this is OUR part of town - you don't belong here') and yet there is not a single area where a BAME person dare not go.

The Black Lives Matter movement has suffered because it has played into the hands of the racists by not making it clear that it's a Black Lives Matter EQUALLY issue (why not call it Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter? Then no-one has any base for criticism). Just the addition of that one word defuses anyone who is not a white supremacist (you'll never change them) and makes the whole campaign clear. I also think the clenched fist symbol is a mistake - it is too aggressive and doesn't portray the movement as peaceful. I know it stems from a very important moment in black history, but a fist is not the symbol of peaceful change.

 

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

You just destroyed Bernie's dopamine hit, I hope you're happy.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I have fun locking horns with Benie. I'm sure he's actually a really decent bloke (I'm assuming he's a 'he' - I could be wrong) just very opinionated like me. He never gets really abusive though, not like some on here.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

You're a brave man Mark, sticking your head above the parapet like that, but I totally agree with you. The only overt racism I have ever seen in Pharmacy has been between Muslims and Hindus - from what I've seen there is a lot of racial hatred there.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Actually, that's not 100% true - I have seen a lot of white-on-white, xenophobic racism against Eastern Europeans, not directed at them but as comments made after the event.

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