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Testimony - Are we really #FutureHealthLeaders? Racialized scholar post graduation diary

Dear BLM-LSHTM/FAIR Community,

Your voices matter to us and we will never stop using whatever influence we have to amplify them and demand better of LSHTM.

We received the following message and obtain authorization to share it anonymously. This will resonate for so many and can be triggering but we urge you to read and reflect on it. If others want to share their experience, feel free to email or DM us.

*******The message was modified to fit the blog post format******

Dear FAIR Network,

Thank you for making this Instagram profile. It means a lot that we continue this discussion that began last June.

I just graduated from my MSc a few days ago. The school asked us to use the hashtag #FutureHealthLeaders in our posts. Future Health Leaders? Who? Who has a shot in climbing global public health decision making ladders?

My schoolmate from a high income country who:

  • can do an unpaid internship at the World Health Organization or other United Nations agencies

  • can easily get a PhD funding

  • get heartbroken when public health universities would only fund UK or Home fees,

  • are favored during job applications when organizations would prefer "someone with previous (parachuting) experience in LMICs" rather that those who have years and years of working AND experiencing AND living the ill consequences of inequalities and coloniality in their LMICs public health

  • would not have to be under the mercy of visa point system or the gaslighting of the Home Office.

For many of us who dared to only dream of LSHTM, we thought that being there will open doors, or will give us a seat in the global health table. I guess we were badly mistaken.

I am beginning to question global health after the MSc and COVID. In a sense, it is rigged in favor of the global north (particularly US/UK).

They keep on saying "break the glass ceiling" but there are layers and layers of ceilings in various thickness.

The past year has been tough. I've met LSHTM students who had to take out massive loans or had to give up everything just to study in the school.

Let me say how grateful we are to your page. Thank you for making this page. Thank you for "listening". I feel like we are seen, heard and understood.

*******The FAIR Network******

For anyone who believe in the power of education, this should be a painful read. This is what institutionalized racism is about.

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.” Toni Morrison

They say you need a diploma from a high income country so you spend all your money on it but it is not enough. They say you need to work hard so you make sacrifices but it is not enough. They continue to gaslight you until you just give up.

This tweet perfectly summarizes our vision:

**************Further reading****************

Blog post from PhD candidate from LSE department of psychological and behavioral science, Nihan Albayrak-Aydemir - The hidden costs of being a scholar from the Global South

UN agency's U-turn after unpaid internships row written in 2018 by BBC reporter Rianna Croxford which highlights that unpaid internships favor the rich and presents data showing that the highest number of WHO interns come from High Income Countries while LMIC applicants are forced to use crowdfunding platform or turn down opportunities. You can extrapolate those finding to international school fees in academic institutions.

The FAIR Network


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