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Let us craft a new strategy for inclusion together

As Black History Month comes to an end, BASW Cymru chair Neeta Baicher says tackling racism and prejudice has to be about more than words

Professional Social Work magazine, 31 October, 2020

Over the last few months there has been significant debate concerning diversity, race and anti-discriminatory practice.

A former colleague reminded me that we have been here before. The 80s in particular was a period of much focus on anti-discriminatory practice.

So, what is different now?  We have research articles, social media communication and meetings with colleagues to discuss issues around racial and cultural harmony past and present. This informs us of the progress made over the preceding years.

It is of great importance that our younger citizens learn about our history so that we continue to make progress.

We also all need to have honest conversations with one another and learn to challenge, with respect, when there is need to do so.

Micro-aggressions in conversation can be difficult to challenge in everyday life and can have a corrosive impact on self-esteem. We should be tuned in enough to identify them, both within ourselves and in others.  

As an Asian woman, I am often judged on how I speak due to my accent. The common response is ‘’I do not understand you’’. I am so used to this now that I have developed strategies to deal with it. I make a point of addressing the person committing this micro-aggression with compassion and through engaging in conversation.

It can, however, be hurtful. Comments like that inevitably make you feel othered, belittled, and discredited as a professional.

How I deal with it largely depends on my state of mind at that moment. Sometimes I am more patient than others. However, in general, it is always best not to be aggressive or disrespectful.

We are privileged to have received the values of our social work training, so we must adhere to these toward betterment and progress throughout our lives.

Let us not have another research paper but rather work towards practicalities of purpose with honesty to eradicate discrimination in whatever form it exists. Let us emphasise our commonalities and celebrate our diversity.

In Wales, where I live, for example, it is better to think of all of us as Welsh and to expound the virtues of our social and cultural diversity to promote a oneness of purpose that enriches us all.

This will lead to a Welsh nation that is dynamic, fair to all and inclusive where we have our collective entitlement, freedom and responsibilities respected.

To achieve this requires more than just words. It needs a proper plan, a strategy with targets so progress can be made and measured. We at BASW Cymru are reaching out to all social workers to get in touch with us. Let us craft a strategy for inclusion together.