A reflection - black history month

To mark Black History Month 2020, we want the black community of Aberdeenshire to have a voice across our channels. It is through these conversations that we will all get a better understanding of what it feels like in Aberdeenshire right now.

In this short editorial a council employee reflects on how the black community feels throughout COVID-19.

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"During Covid-19 lockdown, I was drawn to read a few articles on why more people of Black ethnicity are dying from Coronavirus. Black people are faced with a disproportionate death rate from Covid-19. For me as a black person, this was a very worrying fact.

"What are the reasons for this vulnerability? The reasons are a complex combination of factors but some of those given were socioeconomic conditions, occupation, issues of being overweight, biological factors and underlying health conditions, as black and Asian people have been found to have a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease thereby resulting in a higher risk of death following Covid-19 infection. In addition, a high proportion of black and other ethnic minorities do jobs which increase their exposure to and subsequently increased death from Covid-19. Structural racism is also one of the risk factors given.

"While faced with these stark facts on the impact of Coronavirus on black people, it was ironic that many black people, clad with face masks, came out to protest racism just as we were emerging from lockdown. It was so sad that many black people felt that they were vulnerable either way - if not to Coronavirus, then to the virus of discrimination due to race.

"The lockdown due to Covid-19 made the pace of life slow enough for the world to be confronted with the issues of racism that were brought to the forefront during this period by Black Lives Matter protests. Although I am not an activist, in my view, the outcry was not because black lives matter more, it is simply highlighting the prejudice, unconscious bias, disparities and inequalities in our society and world. Black people are not asking for special treatment but equal treatment. To have the same opportunities, not to have to earn it, but just treated the same way as others.

"Although the racial inequalities that exist here in the UK and Aberdeenshire where I have lived for over 20 years are not so apparent and can be difficult to pinpoint, racism does exist! It is not overt but nuanced. People in the UK are generally not racist, the ones that are do not represent the country as a whole. However, the virus of racism, like the Coronavirus cannot be ignored. Just like the Coronavirus which has not gone away, and we must continue to do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus while progress is being made in the search for a vaccine, in the same way, the issue of racism keeps rearing its ugly head through unconscious bias, micro aggression, stereotyping and other forms of racism. So, we must all address this and progress needs to be made in how we deal with discrimination in order to have a healthy society."