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The Progressive Era was a time of tremendous growth in the US higher education system. Framed by Critical Race Theory, this chapter explores how the prevailing hierarchal ideologies of the time led to the biased evaluation and closure of Black medical schools, as well as the marginalisation of Black medical professionals. The chapter links the historical racial discrimination in education to the contemporary healthcare disparities and distrust in Black community.

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I wrote this improvised piece in response to the UK government’s delay in the release of their Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 report. Findings from the report identified disproportionately higher BAME mortality rates from COVID-19. The delay of this report to the backdrop of a revival of Black Lives Matter (BLM) activism after the death of George Floyd compounded issues surrounding everyday racisms. Fear among UK officials of nationwide anti-racist uprisings because of glaring disparities in the report were highlighted. Perhaps the biggest irony of all was that the very services that were supporting the public during this terrifying pandemic, such as the NHS, were mostly made up of BAME employees. BLAME the BAME reflects my racial frustrations with us as a nation state amid narratives of Brexit, COVID-19 and BLM – all compounded by the delay of this report and the confirmation of being othered.

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Whether denied, derided or determined to overcome it, COVID-19 has impacted many lives in ways that we are only now beginning to witness, as we move from old configurations of normality and adapt to new realities, be it flexible ways of working and learning or working to change social systems. This conclusion summarises the reflections from the preceding chapters, and ends with a call to develop and maintain critical, anti-racist, decolonial and intersectional approaches that acknowledge the complexities and affects of diverse lived experiences in long COVID society.

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Counter-Stories of Colliding Pandemics

This book addresses the prejudices that emerged out of the collision of two pandemics: COVID-19 and racism.

Offering a snapshot of experiences through counter story-telling and micro narratives, this collection assesses the racialised responses to the pandemic and investigates acts of discrimination that have occurred within social, political and historical contexts.

Capturing the divisive discourses which have dominated this contemporary moment, this is a unique and creative resource that shows how structural racism continues to operate insidiously, offering invaluable insights for policy, practicend critical race and ethnic studies.

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This chapter is an opinion piece, using examples from healthcare and policing to demonstrate colour-blind, or colour-evasive, responses to the COVID-19 crisis. It describes the findings of a public health report and explores the way in which stakeholder recommendations were ignored. Using illustrations of health inequality, colour-blindness or colour evasiveness will be explored in action.

Moving on to law and order, the chapter will explain how COVID-19 additional policing powers added to the discrimination faced by people of colour in the UK, and how this was not acknowledged, mitigated or recognised by wider society or those in positions of power in the UK. The chapter shines a light on specific examples of discrimination during the COVID-19 crisis.

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Colonial honourifics to land grabs, genocide, white supremacy, and other forms of violence (aka Honours), are awarded biannually as part of the political calendar. Today, it is also jarring to see so-called activists, anti-imperialists, and ‘allies’ take these medals. Since March 2020, imperial gongs have gone to people for combatting the same institutional violence that has been manufactured and/or upheld by the state. This chapter uses auto-ethnography to discuss the intimate links between Honours, COVID-19, Black Lives Matter – and the cognitive dissonance required to take state recognition while pontificating about social justice. All while hereditary aristocracy appears to have pervaded through the allocation of senior jobs in the UK government’s COVID-19 response. How can anyone take Honours or a life peerage in proximity to state power, while also positioning themselves as anti-oppression and/or against the government’s gaslighting of the public sector? It is deplorable.

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This chapter explores the links between existing collective terminologies and their effect on identity and the collective mental health of racialised communities in the UK. It considers the existing literature on collective racial language, taking issue with terms ‘BAME’, ‘BME’, ‘POC’, ‘Minority Ethnic’, ‘Ethnic Minorities’, ‘Visible Minorities’, with attempts to methodically move towards a more Compassionate, Accurate, Linguistically sound and Contextually conscious (CALC) collective phrase for people who experience racism. The chapter notes the detrimental impact of combining a global pandemic, which problematises ‘BAME’ people with ambiguity and confusion, and its effect on individual and collective consciousness. Through this analysis I argue the need for a new collective term determined by the people. The result of my investigation, however, is that an objective outcome cannot be achieved when dealing with identity and the subjective.

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COVID-19 lockdown has exposed Somali students’ vulnerabilities in achieving their educational targets due to existing settlement challenges and social inequalities that have been compounded by new difficulties brought by COVID-19, such as stress, emotional difficulties, mental illness, gaining weight (caused by physical inactivity due to lack of space to burn off their energies), together with issues surrounding mock exams that disadvataged Somali students. On the other side, the condition created by the pandemic has facilitated family reconnection; improved teacher–parents constructive engagement towards helping children’s learning at home; created a community discussion on how to support their children’s education during lockdown and also learn useful technological skills. Similarly, older siblings have proved useful informal teachers for the youngsters during school closures.

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This book seeks to examine the complexity of the collision of the pandemics of COVID-19 and racism that become evident when examining the intersection between race, health, public policy and culture. The contributions in this edited collection are an important intervention in speaking back to dominant discourses and the 13 chapters that make up this collection cover a range of facets that have been organised according to key themes that are outlined in this chapter.

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In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic brought into sharp relief the prevalence of global health inequalities, showing impacts of the virus were disproportionately felt by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. In the same year, the killing of George Floyd by a public official sparked worldwide demonstrations about institutionalised racism. This chapter explores how such institutional racism pervades public health responses to the pandemic. It examines the rise of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian racism and shows how legacies of the past, and the use of science in racialised ways, cast long shadows across the understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic. Written from a British-born, mixed-heritage perspective, the chapter engages with issues of race, racism and the 2020 pandemic as a lived experience. Weaving together an analysis of the emerging evidence, reflective writing and storytelling, it suggests that rivers of privilege and superiority run deeply underneath the surface of the public discourse.

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