• Jermaine Ravalier

Black Lives Matter…and the Real Change Campaign

Dr Jermaine M Ravalier
Dr Jermaine M Ravalier

Black Lives Matter is the most important and influential movement of my 35 years. Spurred on by events in the States, we have had protests over concurrent weeks in over 150 towns and cities across the UK. When people ask why, we say that of course all lives are important as each other, but it is Black lives which are affected every day simply for the colour of our skin.

Statistics show that Black lives are most disproportionately affected by almost all of our major institutions. We all hear about policing on a daily basis – while we are much less likely to die due to police actions compared to our American brothers and sisters (think: Breona Taylor, Philando Castile, and most recently George Floyd), the MacPherson Report found systematic, institutional racism in the Met police. Despite that being 20 years ago, we still see significant inequalities in the UK. We are more than 10x more likely to be stopped and searched (and this gap is growing), with little difference in arrest figures. We are more likely to be the victim of violent policing too. The justice system is similar. We get longer sentences for the same crimes as white people, and are more likely to be sentenced for the exact same crimes. Indeed, The Lammy Review identified a number of injustices within our justice system in both Youth and Adult services.

We hear less about other forms of injustice. Black children are more likely to live in poverty and most likely to live in a family with a weekly income of less than £400. Black students do worse in our education system. Black students make less progress in school between ages 11 and 16, meaning despite starting high school at a relatively similar level, they make much less progress than almost all other ethnicities. The same happens in Higher Education (Universities), where we perform less well despite having the same entering grades as our peers.

In health, we are negatively over-represented. We are a lot more likely to develop life-limiting diseases, and six times more likely to be sectioned for mental health difficulties in the UK. Black women are five times more likely to die during childbirth, and black families have twice the infant mortality rate of white families. Black adults also have a lower life expectancy (NOTE: the majority of these issues are not due to genetics). None of this is to mention that we are more likely to die due to Covid-19 too. At work there are further difficulties. Simply having a ‘black sounding name’ or being an ethnic minority means you are less likely to get an interview (we’ve been whitening our names for years…), there is little Black representation at the very top of our biggest organisation, and we are less likely to be promoted.

The reasons for all of these things are numerous. These include socioeconomic status, self-fulfilling prophecies such as teachers unconsciously favouring the students which are most ‘like’ them, unconscious (this is a really interesting study) and conscious bias, and good old fashioned racism! However, the #RealChangeCampaign aims to improve on these things.

The #RealChangeCampaign seeks to work with everyone in the country to ensure equity and equality amongst us all. As we’ve seen, racial inequalities effect every aspect of our lives. Therefore, we need to make improvements through small actions across all aspects of

our lives. We want everyone to effect change at work, at home, and at school. By making positive changes we not only support our black colleagues, peers, co-workers, friends, and family…we make important improvements for everyone.