The Silencing of Voices When Speaking Out About Racism

This week I felt it was important to share a video that showed a police officer tasering a Black man in front of his child in petrol station. This is just one of a number of incidents in Manchester where disproportionate use of Conducted Energy Devices (Taser) have been used against Black people.

The horrific scene prompted me to think about trauma as experienced by the child and the wider impact particularly on Black families viewing this incident. As a therapist I was interested in what the response was from the counselling and psychotherapy community and posted my thoughts and comments on our professional bodies members Facebook page. Too many of the responses and comments to this post were of concern. Some comments clearly showed a lack of understanding of systemic and institutional racism while others spoke out against injustice.  

As therapists we have a professional and moral duty to be aware of the wider issues of racism and call it out when we see it. The thread sparked a debate about trauma, racism, privilege and policing as well as questions about the reasons for sharing the video.

In 1999 The MacPherson Report had “a total of 70 recommendations designed to show “zero tolerance” for racism in society were made. They included measures not just to transform the attitude of the police towards race relations and improve accountability but also to get the civil service, NHS, judiciary and other public bodies to respond and change”.

So for anyone working in the public sector who are still not clear about responsibilities to tackle, challenge and respond to the endemic racism in our society revisit the findings of this inquiry.

The video has now been removed from this page. Is this another example of silencing Black voices by our profession?

In response to the comments made on the thread, many people shared their own experiences of being silenced and bullied on counselling training courses in relation to challenging oppression.  Others thanked me for being ‘brave’ in raising the issue.

What kind of climate are therapists working in to think it was a ‘brave’ act to challenge racism in a professional forum, and the fear of being silenced, bullied and ostracised stops people from speaking out?

Would you be willing to share your experiences anonymously? If you would like to share your experience of any of the above issues please feel free to message me. Some people already have come forward and I want to assure anyone who does want to have their stories heard that your story will be treated with respect and confidentiality.

Get your stories heard and be part of a collective challenge to change the experiences of trainees on courses who have felt, silenced, bullied, undermined and ostracised for calling out oppression and discrimination.


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