Race & Health Justice Reading Group ─ “The Language of Race”

In March, the government’s report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities was published. The report has come under heavy criticism from charities working on racial equality to medical communities. While both BMJ and BMA expressed disappointment at and concerns with the biased and scientifically flawed report, the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ response is the most courageous voice amongst medical authorities. They write:

We see this as another wasted opportunity for the Government. We recognise that people from ethnic minority groups will likely feel let down, anger and sadness at the CRED report.

At Medact’s Race & Health Justice Group, we were shaken and angered by the report and felt it was important to explore how we can stand up in the face of tools which may be used against us.

For our third reading group, we would like to focus on ‘the language of race’ section of the report (pages 33-37). We wish to go deeper to explore the process of racialisation and reflect on our shared language of race when engaging in the discourse on race and racism. Without denying the importance of politics and power relations behind the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, we also believe it reveals the harms that arise when race and racism as a historical and socio-cultural construct are denied in the lives of individuals and societies.

Here are some questions to consider whilst reading the section of the report:

  1. What is happening here in the section titled ‘language of race’?
  2. How do you relate to what is happening in this section? What themes stood out to you the most?
  3. What are your thoughts on the Commission’s proposed framework to distinguish between different forms of racial disparity and racism?
  4. What terms do we use when discussing racism? Are we using the same terms with the same meaning?
  5. Have you come across any responses to the report – how did these speak to you?

Practicalities and accessibility:

  • We will circulate our group ground rules when you sign up, and ask that you only join us if you are happy to commit to these principles.
  • Please read the article ahead of the reading group. If you would like an audio version, or to read it collectively with others before the group, please email us.
  • We expect most attendees will be people working in healthcare, but the group is open to all.
  • The reading group will be on Zoom – we will run through logistics at the start of the meeting, but if you are new to Zoom you can read this user guide. The Zoom application will download automatically when you click on a meeting link for the first time.
  • We can provide captioning and/or BSL interpreting, please email us & we’ll arrange
  • You are welcome to have your camera on or off, and to eat during the session, but please do come willing to contribute to the discussion!
  • We will have a scheduled break half way through.
  • We will cap numbers in order to have a small and active discussion.
  • Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to support you to attend.

To sign up to the reading group, or for any questions about it, please email [email protected]

If you are unable to join this session, please do join our mailing list to hear about future sessions.

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