Becoming an Ally


James Bridge, Member of the College of Paramedics, Diversity Steering Group
In 2018, Prof. Tendayi Achiume a special rapporteur on racism for the United nations said, “The harsh reality is race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability status and related categories all continue to determine the life chances and well-being of people in Britain in ways that are unacceptable and in many cases unlawful…” Addressing these issues will take a massive concerted effort from the entire population of the UK, and the voices of BAME allies, especially those in a privileged position, will be invaluable in helping to irradicate this disease-like problem.

What is a BAME Ally?

An ally is someone who actively promotes the culture of inclusion. An ally recognises that, with their own privileges, they can and want to make a concerted effort to understand the obstacles marginalised groups face. Further, an ally is an individual that is actively vocal in defending the rights of a BAME individual and is anti-racist.

What is anti-racism?

To be an ally, it could be argued that it is not enough to not be racist in the current times. One must be anti-racist. “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” - Angela Y. Davis. This is to speak out against micro-aggressions in the workplace or social situations, to counter words and actions of hate and ignorance towards BAME individuals. The best method of approaching this topic with others is to not be confrontational, an appropriate method could be as simple as politely informing family members that it should be known as the 'corner shop' rather than a racially provoking term, and why that provoking term is no longer acceptable.

A key aspect of being an ally is to educate oneself from the experiences of BAME individuals. Two highly recommended books that would serve as a starting point into the subject are:
1. 'How To Be an Antiracist' by Ibram X. Kendi
2. 'So You Want to Talk About Race' by Ijeoma Oluo

'Explaining Privilege in a minute' by Allison Holker, is a quick but fantastic and hard-hitting explanation of what privilege is.

It has been said that “Being an ally is not a full-time job, but it is something you should always be mindful of…” – Stephen Parkinson of Kingsley Napley.
It is also not a badge you wear without any action, it is your way of recognising the difference you can make and then acting on it.

Challenge your unconscious bias

Higher Education is a space of white privilege. Many recognise this, but often those who benefit the most from this privilege do not. Research has found that often those who are already aware of and recognise their own unconscious bias are the ones that take training and resources seriously around this. Those who actively believe that they do not have any unconscious bias appear to pay less attention to training and information [1]. If you believe that you do not have an unconscious bias: think again. Learn more about your privilege, and do your best to learn how to best use it to help the BAME community, including unconscious bias training.

  • Race equality in the UK will potentially bring a £24 billion per year boost to the UK economy.
  • Organisations with more diverse teams have 33 per cent better financial returns. Only one in 16 people at senior levels in the private and public sector are from a BAME background.
  • Only 33 per cent of employees stated that they have a senior level champion for diversity and inclusion in their workplaces.

Race - Capability Not Ethnicity
[1] Kent University, Equality and Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) Report

Bo Escritt, College of Paramedics Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor
"Becoming anti-racist is a lifelong journey of learning and conscious action. People often ask me to give them an example of allyship. I show them this clip of David Bowie showing allyship." 

David Bowie asking MTV "Why are so few black artists are featured?"

David Bowie nailed systemic racism and white privilege in the music industry – almost 40 years ago
Bo also recommends: Talking About Race
Start following Bo Escritt (@BoEscritt) for many further recommendations.


Imogen Carter, College of Paramedics Executive Officer
"I am Imogen, paramedic since 2001, College of Paramedic member almost as long, employed by the College since 2015. Here are some insights into my personal experiences and useful resources, I would like to share with you." 

BBC Bitesize has some gems in their support section that I have benefited from, short and clear - psychologist John Amaechi talks about the difference between being not racist and anti-racist. BBC Bitesize - Not racist v anti-racist: what’s the difference?

Racist / not racist / anti-racist
I am an unconscious racist - I have no guilt about this now I’ve admitted it to myself and others.
I am consciously not racist - This has been me since I can remember.
I have had lots, but not sufficient, moments of being an anti-racist - Each day my knowledge and actions will take me ever closer to this being what I always am.

Robin DiAngelo's opinion on - Racist / not racist / anti-racist Why “I’m not racist” is only half the story

“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” Ijeoma Oluo

Tanoh Asamoah-Danso - Paramedic with East of England Ambulance Service

Click to watch Tanoh Asamoah-Danso's video

Your colleague and mine, Tanoh Asamoah-Danso, 
has 3 recommended actions, for me and others:
1.  Acknowledge white privilege
2.  Do some of your own research
3.  Let's talk about race

BBC podcasts:

Code-Switching - Lucrece Grehoua

Word of Mouth - The language of power and inequality in education and leadership - Jeffrey Boakye

Desert Island Discs - Bernardine Evaristo  

The Spark - Pragya Agarwal on unconscious bias

Tracy Nicholls, College of Paramedics, Chief Executive
The College of Paramedics is committed to being an anti-racist organisation. We need to understand the challenges, barriers and opportunities that exist and to encourage and support those members from BAME backgrounds to take an interest in the College and to put themselves forward when opportunities arise. To have a more diverse representation throughout the College will bring a richness to the future of our profession and will eventually reflect better the communities we serve.