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Voices for Change - NIHR publishes Toxic Corridors video poem

man reads poem

Published: 16 November 2022

The NIHR has today published a new video of a poem that highlights the lived experiences of black men in the healthcare system.

The powerful poem, entitled ‘Toxic Corridors’, was written and performed by author and gospel literary evangelist Kwabena Kimathi. It features NIHR public contributors André Tulloch and Danté Grant and explores the racial inequalities that exist in healthcare, and the interweaving issues of health, healing and spirituality.

Its launch has been timed to coincide with the anniversary of the hugely successful NIHR’s Black Men, Well-being and Toxic Corridors event, at which Kwabena first performed his poem. That event — held by the NIHR’s Race Equality Public Action Group (REPAG), in partnership with community development charity SOBUS on the 21st November 2021 — brought together black men to discuss their lived experiences of inequity in healthcare.

As Kwabena explained: “After having the privilege of participating as a public contributor in a consultation for the REPAG Race Equality Framework, it was an honour to be invited by Fay Scott to write and deliver a piece for the NIHR.”

“‘Toxic Corridors' is also personal to me because it is a snapshot of my journey through life as an African man in the diaspora, navigating (not always successfully) through stereotypes, false perceptions and ill-informed expectations, imposed by others (very often institutions) upon me.”

REPAG founder Fay Scott, who commissioned both Kwabena and this video project, said: “Creating space to hear the experiences of diverse members of the public is critical if we are to tackle health inequities in a meaningful way. It is equally urgent that we act on what we hear to bring about equitable outcomes for everyone regardless of ethnicity, background or culture. I urge everyone to watch this video; consider what they will do differently; and lead authentic change.”

Jeremy Taylor, NIHR Director for Public Voice, said: “As we all — health and care providers, research community and industry alike — collectively strive to improve our understanding of why certain groups are under-represented in health and care research, it is inevitable that we will hear difficult messages. But it is only by doing so that we will be able to learn how we can gain the trust of diverse communities.”

The Toxic Corridors video was produced by Boyd Visuals.

The REPAG Race Equality Framework was launched in April 2022 to help the NIHR meet its commitments in the EDI strategy. It was developed to tackle the types of systemic racial inequality that Toxic Corridors speak about.

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