Northern Ireland news

Derry pharmacist reveals how people refuse to be served by her because of 'colour of my skin'

Nkele said she has been subjected to racist abuse since moving to the north from South Africa. Picture from Stephen Nolan Show/ Twitter

NORTHERN Ireland's chief pharmaceutical officer has told of her shock after a Derry pharmacist told how people refuse to be served by her because of "the colour of my skin".

Cathy Harrison said it was "completely unacceptable for anyone to face prejudice in the service of their community".

The pharmacist, whose name was given as Nkele, told BBC's Stephen Nolan Show that she has been subjected to racist abuse since moving to the north from South Africa.

She said people believe she is "inferior and incompetent simply because the colour of my skin".

The 24-year-old revealed that some customers have demanded that a white person serves them instead.

"I've lived in Derry since I was 10 years old, went to school in Derry... I was called names and that continued all through university," she said.

"I went on to university and became a pharmacist and when I am at work and a patient would come and would say I want to speak to the pharmacist, then when I come out, they say they want to speak to an Irish pharmacist because as a black person they are making me feel like I'm not worthy to be able to help them.

"As a black person, I can't possibly want to help them. This is what is said to me in 2020."

She said she had "experienced racism all my life since I've lived in Northern Ireland" and it "makes me angry, it makes me feel invalid".

"All the hard work that I put in as the same white counterparts in my classroom, that they value their knowledge better than mine even though we all graduated with the same grade," she said.

"But you are judging me not because what I know but by the colour of my skin - you are already judging me that I am inferior and incompetent simply because the colour of my skin.

"This is every day... it happens all the time to a point where I feel like I've got to the point where I feel like I'm immune."

Ms Harrison said she was "really shocked".

"Racism has no place in pharmacy in Northern Ireland or in any part of our health and social care service... it is completely unacceptable for anyone to face prejudice in the service of their community," she said.

"It's particularly upsetting today in the context of Covid-19 because I know that every community pharmacist and every member of the pharmacy staff have moved mountains to support their communities and have been working tirelessly in the last few weeks and months.

"I think that is an awful reflection on us as customers and as members of the public... I know unfortunately it won't be an isolated situation."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news