Open letter on the pain of systemic racism

Published: 14 Dec 2020

Authored by: PCSR

Home Office broke Equalities Law in policy that led to Windrush

(The Guardian 25th Nov 2020)

The pain of systemic racism    The recent EHRC report finds that the Home Office broke the law in its introduction of hostile environment immigration measures. (Guardian Wed 25th Nov 2020)

In our work as therapists - Black, African, Asian, White and other ethnicities and heritages- we are in close and regular contact with the pain and damage inflicted by racism on people of Black, African, Asian and other ethnicities and heritages, from explicitly racist interactions as well as from pervasive background hostility.

The Windrush scandal made the results of this hostility absolutely clear. You don’t have to be a psychotherapist to know that being in a hostile environment is damaging That a government would deliberately create such an environment, and break the law in doing so, is shocking.

Those of us who work with migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees witness the often horrific experiences that caused them to leave their country of origin being compounded by the outright discriminatory, persecutory or just careless treatment they receive at the hands of the Home Office.

The hostility is not limited to immigration. We also see clients whose parents, maybe grandparents, were born in the UK, British citizens of colour, struggling to survive and thrive, weighed down by the ever-present burden of fear for their children, as they support them through the stereotyping, undervaluing and discrimination in the systems - education, employment, health, welfare, housing - that they have to negotiate to move forward in their lives.

And we see people exhausted by all this, people getting ill and dying in much greater numbers than their White counterparts, as is now so evident to everyone in relation to Covid-19, documented in the Doreen Lawrence review.

There is so much documented evidence of all these injustices and inequalities and so many recommendations. There have been Inquiries, Reviews, Commissions, including in just the last 4 years: the Angiolini review into Deaths and Serious Incidents in police custody (2016),  the Lammy review into the treatment of, and outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system (Sept 2017) Wendy Williams’ Windrush Lessons Learned Review (March 2020),the Doreen Lawrence review: An avoidable crisis: the disproportionate impact of Covd-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities  (May 2020) and now the Joint Committee on Human Rights report Black people, racism and human rights.(Nov 2020)

When are these recommendations going to be implemented?

Signed: Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility,

             Black, African and Asian Therapy Network

             Psychotherapy and Counselling Union