Our aim in this paper is to examine the current practice of psychiatry in relation to race or ethnicity in England. The problems that European psychiatry has in relation to black people in a white and predominantly racist society and the responses to these from within the professional sphere are only one aspect of our current topic. We merely mention these to contextualise the problems black people experience as a result of institutional psychiatry. Our main aim in this paper is to articulate the oppression black people experience in relation to conventional psychiatry and to seek ways of confronting and changing this, very much as part of the larger, black struggle in the UK. We believe that the alternative that we propose, based on black experience of psychiatry, is equally valid in other contexts where questions of disadvantage and discrimination are the overriding themes. Although the theoretical basis of our work is grounded on issues such as inequality and structural oppression and the need to confront and change them, a detailed analysis of these topics is beyond the scope of this paper. Instead, we examine the practice of professional psychiatry in relation to black people in the UK and argue that the model that is imposed on us is antithetical to the interests of black minority groups. We also look at practical ways in which our community is beginning to organise in challenging such professional orthodoxy.
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