Racism is often considered as an interaction between two people - one person holding prejudice against another because of their race. However, racism is far more complex and insidious than just interpersonal encounters.
The Social Change Collective’s August event in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Unpacking Racism in the Health System, provided a platform to consider the complexity of structural racism. Through a Q&A style wānanga/discussion, our expert speakers unpacked the presence of systemic racism and how it is built into the colonial health system of Aotearoa, and how this, in turn, leads directly to Māori experiencing a greater burden of disease and poorer quality of care. Nan Wehipeihana, researcher and evaluator, Jade Chase, Māori health expert, and Diana Sarfati, Director of Cancer Control, each provided their insights into how they have seen racism played out at a structural level and how it continues to undermine the wellbeing of Māori and other people of colour.
The kōrero also outlined some of the key things we can do as individuals to promote anti-racist systems and behaviours. A core element of this being education. Learning about the ongoing impacts of systems that are inherently built to underserve certain communities, whether that’s in health, education, employment, corrections etc, can encourage collective action against these systems. There are a wealth of resources, both in the national and international context, that can further our ability to challenge and change racist structures and institutions.
We are extremely grateful to our three speakers for gifting their time, expertise, and mātauranga to the kaupapa.
Listen to podcasts:
Getting Better – A Year in the Life of a Māori Medical Student (RNZ)
Māori Health – R&R with Eru and K’Lee
Imagining Decolonisation – Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Rebecca Kiddle, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton, Amanda Thomas
White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo
Māori Sovereignty – Donna Awatere Huata (Published June 1982, Broadsheet, pages 38 to 42)
Kia Mau: Resisting Colonial Fictions – Tina Ngata
Allegories on race and racism – Camara Jones