I, like millions of people, was shocked and appalled by the death of George Floyd. It is a sad truth that racism still occurs to this day and it is up to all of us to root it out and fight it. I know many people are rightfully very angry by what happened to George Floyd and I hope that the perpetrators of his murder receive the full force of the law.
In my career as a mental health doctor, I have seen and looked after many people who have suffered racism and discrimination. To this day people from BAME backgrounds are far more likely to experience socio-economic deprivation and resultant health inequalities. This was recently highlighted in the Government’s report into Covid-19 deaths. I strongly believe that everyone, no matter their background or where they come from, must have equal opportunities in life.
We also know that people from BAME backgrounds are far more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than white people. Tackling this issue was one of the drivers of the recent independent review of the Mental Health Act review which I took part in.
In terms of the recent protests, I fully respect people’s right to protest, and I understand why so many want to express their anger following the death of George Floyd. However, during the current pandemic it is important those that do protest do so while observing social distancing. Sadly, a small minority of people have assaulted the police, and there have been scenes of vandalism and violence. These people do not represent the views and wishes of the many who want to peacefully protest, such as those who protested in Runnymede this week with great dignity and respecting social distancing.
Racism has no place in our society, and we all have a part to play in tackling it.