As we launch a new series of podcasts addressing racism, racial trauma and anti-racism, two of the BACP contributors reflect on their involvement and the importance of encouraging more conversations about race. Jo Holmes, Children Young People and Families Lead in the BACP policy team, and Edith Stokes, BACP’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead attended the Hackney Council’s Anti-Racist Practice conference in May 2022, sparking further conversation and collaboration leading to the podcast series being recorded.

The podcast series contributes to BACP's on-going efforts to promote equality, diversity and inclusion. BACP acknowledges that racism is a societal problem that affects all aspects of daily life in the UK, but it remains a difficult and uncomfortable topic to discuss. These podcasts will also support BACP's commitment set out in the President's Paper Race for the Soul of the Profession, ensuring that the counselling professions are responsive to the trauma felt by so many people and communities who continue to face longstanding racial inequality.

Jo reflects on the privilege of being involved in developing the podcasts and joining in conversations critical to counselling and other helping professions.

"For me, as a white woman, being open and authentic is key to change, and in approaching this podcast series, an essential starting point has been recognising both day-to-day and systemic racism as real and pervasive.

Being involved in these recordings encouraged me to reflect on my own journey in learning about anti-racist practice which started in the late 1990’s when I studied a youth work degree module called The Roots to Black Experience. Here I first learned that notions of colour blindness, naively believing everyone was equal and had the same opportunities had been a barrier preventing me from seeing and acknowledging historical and deep-rooted systemic racial inequality, and the racial inequality that persists in our society at every level. Not seeing colour means not seeing the person and their experience of racism.

Years later I undertook my diploma in counselling. It was a brilliant course, but unlike the youth work course, we barely touched on racism or anti-racist practice. Looking back, this feels like a missed opportunity and something that would have benefitted my practice, and I hope this series of podcasts can help to fill some of that missing space and generate more conversations about racism and anti-racist action."

For Edith, the topics discussed in the recordings have deep resonance in both her professional and personal life.

"For many Black and Brown people like me, racism is still prevalent and not a thing of the past. When Black and Brown people point out or call out racism, whether it is microaggressions or more overt racism, we often receive defensive denial from our white counterparts; "I have black and brown friends", "I don't see colour" and "I am not a racist."

And, if you've had a similar experience to mine, you may have felt shut down when you try to bring up the issue of how these remarks contribute to the problem and perpetuate racism. I would hear comments such as "why do you always make it about race," "oh gosh, you are playing the race card," and "It's a joke; it wasn't my intention." Intent only goes so far and cannot be used as justification or excuse. We must ask ourselves, when do these intentions become woefully inadequate for Black and Brown people who have endured racial trauma due to countless overt and covert racist events and still witness and experience them today? This is why podcasts like this one, to which I had the honour of contributing not just as the BACP's EDI Lead but also as a Black woman, are so important.

I hope those who listen to these podcasts understand that simply believing "I am not racist" is not enough; rather, being anti-racist aids in challenging and dismantling systematic racism. Anti-racism work cannot be done passively; it must be done proactively by confronting the structures and belief systems that foster racism within and around us. It is equally critical to recognise that being anti-racist and leading an anti-racist organisation is a journey that involves a long-term commitment to doing the work."

Find out more

Listen to our podcasts exploring racism, racial trauma and anti-racism, recorded as a collaboration between BACP and Hackney Council.

The conversations include focus on the hurt and pain caused by racism that you may find difficult and upsetting.