Scherin Barlow Massay

Social Anthropologist – Scherin Barlow Massay

Community news. The impact of slavery abounds today in the form of racism. Racial discrimination has been employed as a deliberate and methodical attack against people of African descent in many areas of Western society.

In British society, there is racial bias throughout the judicial system, from the first contact with the law, usually the police, to the legal professions and the courts. Statistics show that people of African descent get longer sentences for committing the same crimes as their white counterparts and white offenders are more likely to receive community sentences than a person of African descent is.

People of African descent are more likely to receive convictions because of theft, brought about by a deficiency in necessities whereas “white collar crimes” such as bank and computer fraud, bribery, counterfeiting, embezzlement, health care, and environmental fraud schemes, trader fraud, money laundering and tax evasion are prolific crimes of greed, but usually go unreported.

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as “a state of well being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. WHO (2001).

Another area where injustice prevails is in the mental health system. According to a report submitted to Parliament by Black Mental Health UK: “Detention rates under the Mental Health Act continue to be highest for people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities, even though there isn’t a high prevalence of mental illness amongst this group.

Photo courtesy harare24.com

Photo courtesy harare24.com

Black people are currently 50% more likely to be referred to mental health services via the police than their white counterparts”. Once admitted, doctors are four times more likely to reach a diagnosis of schizophrenia and detain them in more secure mental health hospitals. The report to Parliament continues: “Police presence, often in riot gear, on psychiatric wards is an issue that is not publicly discussed but has led to a number of high profile death in custody cases that have reinforced distrust of both police and mental health services”.

Even though people of other ethnicities do experience prejudice and racism in Western societies, no other ethnic group have been victimised to centuries of physical, psychological, and emotional violence as people of African descent.

This process of dehumanisation is legitimised by racist ideologies that are made into laws that change according to the times and which keep people powerless and in a state of socio-economic lockdown. Together all these conditions contribute to a condition coined by Dr Joy DeGruy, as Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome. See PTSD episode V