"History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again"
A personal reflection on Black Lives Matter and COVID-19
Xocoa Sharma, Wycombe CLP Equalities Officer
What an exciting time we are in! From a social media post to a global movement BAME communities and their allies have been fighting for such a positive change through a network of grass-roots organisations with well deserved successes. A moral collective of activists of such strong people fighting to expose white supremacy and systemic oppression and racism, demanding their rights to improving social mobility and being a force for change is something I can't wait to see more of. I hope this will be the start of people of all backgrounds organising themselves to fight for more rights, rights that this government consistently take away needlessly with pathetic excuses to encourage us to be divided with less community cohesion. We are not stupid people in High Wycombe and we are becoming closer by supporting each other to have the rights we are supposed to already have. I have been absolutely thrilled to see statues coming down of slave traders because their actions should not be seen as acceptable under any circumstances, history or not. It is embarrassing they were even still up despite decades of peaceful petitions for them to be taken down that were ignored. We are sending a better message to the rest of society, particularly to the next generation that this slavery was not an acceptable part of our history.
Despite so much happening in Wycombe that is progressive and moving this important movement forward, we must not forget that there are significant health inequalities that can make some communities more likely to have severe illness as well as cultural habits (e.g. more social) thus more likely to be exposed to Covid-19 with a larger viral load. For example the Bangladeshi communities are genetically more likely to have fewer pancreatic enzymes which means they are more likely to be deficient in fat soluble vitamins like a,d,e and k meaning they will have a higher likelihood of inflammation, severe illness and stroke. BAME communities are more likely to have severe vitamin d deficiency which is a risk factor for heart attacks, heart failure, peripheral heart disease, strokes and cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Covid-19 does affect blood clotting. It does not help that “Deloitte”, who run the testing centres, are not required to report positive cases to Public Health England which is extremely worrying particularly for BAME communities due to a lack of transparency and effective planning.
Unfortunately despite such positive changes going on there are always a few who give others a bad name by encouraging the rights of others to be taken away despite fighting for their own rights to be recognised. There are still people not wearing masks and some who actually believe Covid-19 is a hoax which are putting people at potential risk through refusing to take precautions. There has been a rise in verbal abuse and criminal damage to those who choose to wear hair coverings from a few women of the black community to women of other communities in Wycombe. Women have the right to express their individuality and experiment with their identity where they like as we are living in a free society. It is important for women to have the right to choose modesty, especially while coping with medical interventions (such as chemotherapy) should it feel right for them, cultural, religious and social reasons and lets not forget to keep warm and a whole load of other possible reasons. Hair coverings culturally can be traced back thousands of years and are not exclusively attached solely to any one culture or area in the world. It is important we support each other and try to understand each other to make Wycombe a more positive place to live, we can learn so much from each other.
Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you, it is an absolute honour and I will continue to fight for progressive change. Today, I leave you an inspiring quote by Maya Angelou: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again”.