Being a minority of a minority

Published: 16/10/2023

For Black History Month, Dr Sekina Bakare spoke with our Media and Communications Officer Rachel Yeager, about why now is a great time to talk about issues that uniquely affect black women. 

Google “Dr Sekina Bakare” and you’ll have to scroll a long way to find her GMC registration. 

Long before you can find the registration, buried deep in the algorithm, you’re bound to go down a rabbit hole of Dr Bakare’s additional and interesting achievements. Dr Bakare has appeared on numerous podcasts (including Anaesthesia on Air), featured in media articles and penned her own, and had her portrait painted for the “Healthcare Heroes” series.  

Consistent through all these endeavours is Dr Bakare’s commitment not only to the high standards of medicine, but also a strong moral code, advocating for increased diversity and inclusion. 

“I look at EDI [Equity, diversity, and inclusion] work as trying to make an environment where everyone can flourish,” Dr Bakare said. “We need to question why we do things, why policies are in place, and never ignore a problem because it’s too big.”

Dr Bakare works on EDI advocacy year-round, but she appreciates the opportunity Black History Month brings to focus the attention of the public, which often does not give enough thought to the lived experiences of minority groups.  

This year is particularly special to Dr Bakare because the 2023 Black History Month theme is ‘Saluting Our Sisters’ which seeks to celebrate black women. 

“I am in the unique position of, as a black woman, being a minority of a minority,” Dr Bakare said. “And it can be a struggle, struggling with being not just a woman in a professional environment, but the added layers of what being a black woman entails. So this year is a great opportunity to talk about issues that uniquely affect black women.” 

The concept of ‘layers’ of experiences affecting a person – or intersectionality – describes, as Dr Bakare does, how multiple systems of inequality can ‘intersect’ for different people. These systems are not just based on race and gender, but also (among others), sexual orientation, disability, colour, and, as Dr Bakare expands on, ethnicity and education. 

“[EDI work] can be very complex because it’s multi-factorial and you have different groups within a group that are affected differently,” Dr Bakare said. “For example, myself coming from a black African background; I’m Nigerian and whenever there is a group of Africans there is a high likelihood, I will find another Nigerian. And I’m very aware of that. And now having achieved what I have in life I have a university education and a professional job and that is a privilege for myself and now for my children.” 

Beyond acknowledgement, either of privilege or problems, Dr Bakare advocates for everyone to make a real commitment to action. 

“Too often discussions happen, or roundtables are hosted, or Black History Month comes around and everyone talks about it, and then nothing happens again,” Dr Bakare said. “Now we need to move on from the ‘We see this is a problem’ and the ‘We hear you.’ Okay. Now what are you going to do? What practical steps are you going to take to make a difference?” 

In taking action, Dr Bakare wants to emphasise the goal must always be progress, not instant perfection. 

“When making changes it’s natural to make mistakes,” Dr Bakare said. “We just need to be solution focused and move in that direction. We just need to take it on, even when progress is slow. And I know, where there is a trajectory, there is hope.” 

May it also be fair to say, where there is Dr Bakare, there is hope. 

Dr Sekina Bakare is a ST7 anaesthetic and ICM trainee working in North West London.