Date of prep: December 2020
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I am white.
I cannot say I have personally suffered. These are my experiences of racism.
Is my contribution of value?
I’m not sure. Perhaps you are better qualified to decide.
I used to work with a white Turkish colleague. She was completing her probationary period in our pharmacy. One day she told a patient, who was Sri Lankan, to return to the pharmacy with an interpreter.
My Turkish colleague couldn’t understand what the Sri Lankan patient was saying. My Turkish colleague was angry that she was expected to understand the patient and made her feelings clear.
How dare this patient come into the pharmacy and expect to be understood.
I was furious.
She was swiftly given notice shortly after that incident.
I am white and married to an Asian person. My mother is an immigrant from South Africa. My father is white and English.
I have also seen patients who are white, coming to me complaining about immigrants coming from another country. They are usually upset because they feel these immigrants are claiming benefits from the government.
I explained to them that I was the product of an immigrant to this country. I went on to say that actually, a lot of immigrants have helped to build this country and make it what it is today.
It was difficult for me to manage that conversation.
I had an overwhelming compulsion to become emotional. I resisted because I didn’t want to put myself in a situation whereby the patient could have made a complaint against me to my employer.
So yes, racism is a huge problem in pharmacy. It is everywhere you look.
In my experience, the problem is not most acute between colleagues but generally between patients and staff. I find this interesting.
Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that people do not share their real views at work?
As a white person, I try to tackle this racism any time I see it happening. I openly question the words people use in their conversation. I tell them that perhaps they would like to reconsider their language or their views.
It often catches people by surprise that they are called out on it. In the past, this has given me the impression that all forms of racism still exist everywhere.
The saddest aspect is that this behaviour often goes unchallenged and is seen by many as acceptable.
The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous.
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Pharmacy in Practice is a UK pharmacy publication with its roots in Scotland.