When I took over the role of editor earlier this year, one of my proposals was to discontinue the Black History Month issue. There are so many disadvantaged groups in society, why give just one a platform in this way, I argued? Why not an Asian issue, or a LGBTQ+ issue? Or one focused on disabilities?
And then George Floyd was murdered, the Black Lives Matter protests exploded and suddenly, middle-class, seemingly liberal white people like me were forced to confront the role that their silence and complacency plays in the continued discrimination that black people face globally and in the UK.
I set myself the task of ‘doing the work’ around racism. After reading Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, I moved onto Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy and started waking up to the naivety of my assumption that institutionalised bias has been addressed by affirmative action programmes and that racism is restricted to a small minority of society. I learned about the violence and discrimination that black people continue to face in their everyday lives and how opportunities that people like me take for granted remain out of reach. I digested the horrors of colonialism and the slave trade in detail for the first time since school.
Saad’s book also includes reflective exercises for white people to examine their unconscious bias. As I started it, my ego congratulated me for being such a good person to do this when really, I didn’t need to. So it was deeply unsettling to uncover ugly beliefs that I would never admit to, hidden under well-rehearsed views on equality and empathy. It’s not easy to write this but, unless we own the uglier parts of ourselves, how can we begin to address them?
So I guess you could say I’ve done a U-turn in terms of my commitment to honouring Black History Month this year. But I am aware that it’s also not enough and, as editor, I need to ensure that BME members from all ethnicities are represented in the pages throughout the year, rather than rolled out when we cover race. I welcome input from BAME members such as Rakhi Chand, who wrote to me earlier this year to ask why so few of the ‘About the author’ panels in Therapy Today show non-white people.
I would like to thank all of the contributors to this issue who have shared their views and experiences so openly, and BACP member Helen George, who originally came up with the concept of a Black History Month issue and who has quietly but tenaciously ensured that it continues.
As ever, the ‘Reactions’ page is your platform for feedback and, as of this month, we have introduced a new page, ‘Viewpoints’, for you to share what really matters about our profession.
Sally Brown, Editor
From the Chair
Inspiration comes in many forms. I am really pleased to see how member contributions have shaped and developed this issue from the earliest seed of an idea that brought the first October edition into fruition back in 2018, to where we are today.
Over the years, many of you have graciously shared with me your personal reflections about the ways your own professional practice or training has developed, as well as tales of how you have been inspired to be creative in different ways.
My hope is that we continue to create safe spaces for a variety of views to be explored and for different ideas to emerge. I would encourage perspectives, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem or whether they are an opposing view, as these are equally valid and necessary for contrast. I’ve always felt it important to share our stories, as we never know the impact, and I truly believe this is how we inspire each other.
Natalie Bailey, BACP Chair
'I have become aware, accepting and in tune with my blackness’
Angelo Williams writes our client column
Culture and identity: How does your cultural heritage influence your work?
Back in the room: Our ethics team considers this month's dilemmas
Kimberly-Anne Evans speaks for herself