Understanding why the BLM movement takes time, effort, and a willingness to listen to other points of view. The BAME community makes up 2.4% of the population in The Vale of Glamorgan, roughly 3,000 people. Whilst that may not seem like a large number, by talking, engaging, and learning from each other everyone can make a difference. We spoke to Rubbi Ali and Phil Lewis about their experiences and thoughts on the BLM movement.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
R: “I’m from Cardiff Bay Docks which is known for its multicultural community, and it’s where the majority of my family live. I moved to Penarth 5 years ago but I’ve always lived in South Wales.
P: “I moved to Penarth from Pontypool when I was 8 years old and I’ve always called Penarth my home.
How do you think the BAME community is represented currently?
P: “Penarth is quite affluent, you definitely can see that it’s predominantly a white middle-class area. In terms of the BAME community being represented, I think that with the small number of BAME people that live here, striking a balance between representation and making sure that BAME people are appropriately represented is important.
R: “Conversations around representation are important from all levels. Whether it’s high profile public organisations like the MET police or private organisations ensuring that they employ more diverse workforces, right down to how we all as individuals can be doing more to make everyone feel welcome and represented- regardless of the colour of their skin.
Do you think more can be done to improve the lives of BAME people?
R: “Definitely and there are some great changes already happening. In my place of work, for example, the hiring process has changed to remove any details from applications and CV’s to ensure that the process isn’t based on gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation and religious beliefs so we can strive to get a diverse and multicultural workforce.
Have you ever experienced direct or indirect racism?
P: “My experience of living here is very positive- the worst I’ve ever had is someone tell me I’ve caught a nice colour from being on holiday by friends, of whom get plenty of banter from me too!
R: “Nothing to note recently. However, my worst experience of direct racism was years ago- I was 19 and had finished my day at work when a man jumped out of his car and yelled directly at my face while I was waiting for a bus. His comments were racist, sexist and threatening. The experience shock me back then, but we were brought up no to react- that’s the best thing. These days it might be school kids trying to act like they have something to prove- normally in groups.
Do you think society is changing?
P: “I think we can sometimes take Penarth for granted. Penarth is generally a very welcoming and tolerant place to be. I think the BLM movement is really highlighting important social injustices, however, my personal experience has been a very positive one. The colour of my skin isn’t really something that stand out to people, which I think is the main reason why I’ve never has any negative experiences.
R: “Yes, definitely- but there’s still some way to go. When I moved to Penarth with my partner, my family were wary of me moving to a white middle class area. Traditionally, we’ve felt safer in multicultural communities, but Penarth has been a wonderful place to live. We live in a world of click-bate news which pushes society to base opinions/views on assumptions and leaves very little factual background- this results in communities being marginalised. Until we all make the effort to learn about different cultures, communities and get the facts- we’ll always fail at building a diverse society where everyone is equal and feels safe.
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