Sanchez-Jeremiah Davis is a physiotherapy lecturer at St. George’s University, London, and also practices privately as an MSK physiotherapist. During his student days, and in his subsequent career, he has faced microaggressions and racial discrimination from both patients, supervisors and colleagues.
On an early placement I was paired with another student, who was failing due to various issues, and for some unknown reason I started to get branded with the same kinds of behaviour – despite the fact that that I wasn’t behaving like him at all.
I was turning up on time, seeing all of my patients, completing my notes on time and engaging in everything that was required of me – he was being late, not turning up and not completing notes.
But when I started to question why I was being treated the same way as an underperforming student, I was suddenly labelled as being ‘aggressive and intimidating’ – even though that’s not in my nature at all. So, I reported what was happening to my link tutor.
It became apparent that there was some kind of stereotyping or microaggressions happening, as the educator appeared to be viewing me as the stereotypical “aggressive Black man” and as somehow intimidating.
So, my link tutor had quite a serious conversation with the university and my educator. And for the remaining two weeks of that placement, I then had a completely different experience, and it was much more positive.
After that, I went on to pass that placement with a 2:1…but before that they were going to fail me.
The more we discuss microaggressions - and call them out - the more we can create inclusive workplaces where everyone can flourish.