By Joy Sigaud
COVID 19 – The British Black have a long charted history of contributing to major milestones in British society and must be acknowledged for their roles.
Over 3.25million cases of Covid 19 worldwide. We have all seen the figures for Europe it’s always in the news but Africa, continent of a vast land mass that dwarfs Europe, a population of over 1.2 billion, it accounts for just 38,522 reported cases of Corona Virus Covid 19.
Africa accounts for just over 1 percent of cases worldwide, whilst in the UK the numbers of African and partial African descent are staggeringly high. As no specific monitoring has been undertaken to date, although it is being redressed, it is difficult to quantify with any degree of accuracy the total numbers of victims to the disease but reportedly over 30 percent of victims so far have been from BAME backgrounds.
Sparked by the US revelation that Black and ethnic minorities were disproportionately affected by Covid 19 the UK decided to compile and examine its own figures. The Black communities in the UK knew they were dying and many knew why. They had unwittingly become the frontline foot soldiers in a seemingly relentless war against an invisible enemy. After generations of serving the NHS and other public sectors for which many have in recent times received awards and accolades for lifelong service, this generation of workers were being snuffed out in unprecedented proportions.
To add insult to injury, whilst this is going on, campaigns to promote and “Clap for the NHS” show “Janet and John” style PR campaigns portraying the NHS as predominantly white, supported by a predominantly white Britain. In spite of this misrepresentation by PR companies and the media, Black, Asian, many other ethnicities not least to mention Philippinos are on the frontline as nurses, supermarket and delivery staff, carers, cleaners and much more.
Black British have always been on the frontline in public sector services, one of the reasons being, they were less likely to face blatant discrimination that exists unchecked in the private sector, although in recent times it is coming to light with diversity campaigns taking the lead to address the problem. The NHS, British Rail, London Transport, the civil serves and local authorities were always safe, secure areas of employment guaranteeing a steady income and pension.
Whatever the background, the true calling of a nurse, doctor or carer is a compelling one and it is their natural inbuilt duty to rush to the aid of the sick and infirm without questioning or reasoning the dangers. It has taken almost 200 years to recognise the great selfless contributions of Mary Seacole and it’s time for Britain to acknowledge that the great cities have always been home to people from former colonies to a greater or lesser degree and their contribution and sacrifices to great victories must be acknowledged with accuracy.
Right now, there is a BAME family where every member has been put on stand by to be called up “for service” in the fight against Covid 19 because they all happen to have a medical related degree and experience. Although we have to question this approach considering the current mortality rates within the BAME community, they are willing just as so many across the country from all backgrounds are and all should be applauded and recognised for their great contributions so that in 100 years time when future generations look back and research they will find the truth of the matter.
From Olaudah Equiano, to Mary Seacole, all those in-between and those today must be acknowledged.