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The racism that goes unchallenged



A few weeks ago, while I was busy trying to get through the deluge of calls, something caught my eye on the ever-expanding GP call-back list. It was a patient requesting a female GP, but specifically not me or my colleague, who also happened to be South Asian.

I was a bit baffled as I had no history with this patient or her family, and neither did my colleague. I suspected we may have been excluded because of our race, so it was agreed that any future requests declining specific GPs were to be explored by the reception team. Last week, a similar incident occurred, but far more blatant.

When the patient was asked if she wanted to speak to a particular GP, she said she didn’t mind as long as it wasn’t an Asian doctor because ‘they are all useless’. Needless to say, this behaviour will be addressed by my practice manager.

Both patients had a South Asian background…This was not white privilege, but a common prejudice that is rarely discussed

But the small detail I have omitted is this: both patients were from a South Asian background themselves. This was not white privilege at work, but a common prejudice that is rarely discussed. I’m sure a race campaigner would tell me this is not the fault of minority patients because they have been brainwashed to believe in the superiority of the British Empire in the Indian subcontinent – that white doctors are far better than native ones.

A woke society will also demand that religious and cultural identity must be preserved at all times, including bending the dress code rules for school and employment.

Thankfully, this sentiment was not prolific in 1979 when I started high school, so my father’s request for me to wear trousers to school was denied. In all these situations where we try to maintain cultural sensitivities, no one bothers to find out what the individual involved thinks.

I did not wish to wear trousers and be the odd one out at school, and neither did I want to be married off to my cousin. I was desperate for the law to protect me from these things, but all I could see was the transition from being controlled by my family to being controlled by the well-meaning liberals, trying to create a utopia of multiculturalism.

Ignoring wrongs inside BAME communities has led to years of female genital mutilation 

This narrative of ignoring any wrongs inside BAME communities has led to the many years of female genital mutilation (FGM) in young girls, with no custodial consequences. I could add male circumcision and ear piercing to that list of abuses, but I will not go there.

You may ask yourself, how did we get from a BAME patient’s racist comment to FGM? The commonality they share is that there is a history of both practices going unchallenged.

Thankfully, FGM has now been recognised as a serious safeguarding issue. But interestingly, despite all the raised awareness during the #BlackLivesMatter movement, I have not heard any meaningful discussions about the appalling racism within BAME communities.

Unless we address this, we cannot achieve the desired change. And I will be left utterly demoralised about the assertion I am useless, despite working my butt off.

Dr Shaba Nabi is a GP trainer in Bristol. Read more of Dr Nabi’s blogs here

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READERS' COMMENTS [1]

Anonymous 17 September, 2020 1:58 pm

Racist patients are often not as blatant as the two you have mentioned. More insidious are the racists who are wise enough not to declare it. I have often wondered how many formal complaints etc are made, not necessarily for completely groundless reasons but where a white counterpart might have simply been grumbled about instead.