“If you have a Black friend and you don’t understand what they are going through, you don’t have a Black friend, you just know a Black person.”
Wow, how perfectly powerful, totally true, and right-on relevant is that statement today as our nation finally wakes up, smells the injustice, and solidly supports the rising anti-racism movement that is sweeping Wales.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it, loudly, again, it’s not enough to be passively non-racist, we must be actively anti-racist.
God didn’t gave me this big, booming voice as a blessing for nothing so I intend to keep on using it to shout for racial, and all other, equality.
We must all be both visible and vocal if we are to stand squarely in solidarity with Black campaigners as only then will we start to smash the systematic and structural racism rife in our society.
And surely seeing cop Derek Chauvin take the stand this week to be tried for the George Floyd killing soberly reminds us that there is so much to be done.
We all saw how George’s distressing death was a pivotal movement in the battle for racial justice, kickstarting the rapid resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
And no more so than in Wales.
Finally, and just as we announce two major pieces of game-changing policy news, we are making our move.
Many of us allies are engaging with An Anti Racist Wales, Welsh Government’s bold and ambitious draft Race Equality Action Plan; celebrating the milestone move to include Black history on the Welsh schools curriculum.
And we are protesting against our serious flawed non-devolved Crime and Justice system by standing up for all those ethnic minority families and communities so seriously let down.
We should all be absolutely outraged that Wales, with a paltry population of just over three million, has four of the most high-profile, racially wrong, utterly unjust cases in the whole of the United Kingdom – two in the first few months of 2021 alone.
Twenty-four year old Mohamud Hassan died on January 9th, after being held in Police custody in Cardiff overnight, the bodycam footage remains unreleased, and five serving officers have been served misconduct notices by the Independent Office of Police Complaints (IOPC).
Twenty-nine year old Mouayed Bashir died just over a month later after coming into contact with the Police in Newport. His parents called for help. But he was restrained, handcuffed and hospitalised, later losing his life. The IOPC are investigating that one too.
Thirteen year old Christopher Kapessa’s body was found in the River Cynon, on 1 July 2019, after he and others were out by the river. An initial investigation by South Wales Police concluded that Christopher’s death was as a result of a ‘tragic accident’.
After concerns were raised, the force’s major crime investigation team was brought in. On 19 February 2020, the CPS wrote to the family stating that there was sufficient evidence to support a charge of manslaughter but that a prosecution was ‘not in the public interest’.
Twenty-two year old Siyanda Mngaza , who has disabilities, was without any provocation, racially abused and physically assaulted by adults much older than her in May 2019. But Dyfed Powys Police arrested Siyanda and charged her with GBH. She was convicted and sentenced to four and half years on 13 March 2020.
All the above are being legally challenged, have crusading campaigns, powerful petitions, a strong social media presence, and solid support from within the immediate community – and wider country.
Say their names.
And let’s lead the way in Wales in seeing that justice is done – not make claims that the UK is not institutionally racist like they do over the border.
Time to truly take note of the appalling racial inequality in our system and stop sitting there saying we are not racist because we ‘don’t know any racists’ – actions speak louder than words.
So please click on the links, familiarise yourself with the legal fights, sharply sign the petitions, generously cash to the crowdfunders, solidly share on social media, take part in the peaceful protests.
And join us at Stand Up To Racism (Vale) as we educate, inform, campaign and communicate.
Who doesn’t want a Wales that is open and transparent, rights-based, and listens to the lived experience of our Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic people and communities.
I know I do.
What are you waiting for?
Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and comms specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.
As a founding member of Stand Up To Racism (Vale) Sue promotes the Black-led Campaign Group who, with the strong support of Allies, aim to unite our communities. And also acts as Communications Advisor for the voluntary collective.