By now, almost everyone in the UK has been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another, whether a friend or a family member has been infected or you or someone you know have been forced into extended periods of isolation. Official discourses speak of togetherness and community and pledge for the cooperation of the general public to prevent the further spread of the virus.
Research indicates that the virus has exacerbated already existing racial structures and racial discrimination. Research showed that the fear of being stigmatized based on race, significantly affected BAME groups willingness to get tested for COVID-19, which prevented early care and caused later complications in treatment (PHE 2020). In the midst of these times, it is, therefore, crucial to combat these structures, discriminating against BAME communities in the UK and focus on ways to enforce transformative projects in benefit of those disproportionately affected by the Virus.
The Bangladeshi community has, according to research, the poorest English skills among other ethnic groups in the UK, showing that there are 64,397 members of the Bangladeshi community, just in London, who speak little to no English at all. The Bangladeshi community are among the most disadvantaged of ethnic groups in the UK, as many members are recent migrants, who do not necessarily have the opportunity of participating in language courses due to working conditions or household duties and or also, in areas where the population of Bangladeshi ethnics is especially dense, this fact has a negative impact on the motivation to learn English (Nuffield Foundation 2017).
Research also shows that Bangladeshi ethnics have twice the risk of death from COVID-19 compared to people of White ethnicity. If we look at these important factors together, the high risk of death among Bangladeshi ethnics, fear of racial discrimination and poor English skills, it paints a very troubling picture. Therefore, members of this community must receive the appropriate information translated to Bengali, the official Bangladeshi language, so that this high-risk group, can have a fighting chance against COVID-19 (PHE 2020).
If we want to talk about true community and standing together it makes zero sense if not everyone is included in this project. It is important to have practical solutions to these problems instead of merely structural critique in order to create transformative and lasting change for the UK Bangladeshi community.
Public Health England (2020). “Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups”. PHE Publications.
Nuffield Foundation. (2017). “What kind of language services should public authorities provide to minority ethnic groups: the case of Bangladeshis in London”.