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Anna Arietta

Anna Arrieta

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BLM Bridgent

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I think my role as an ally is something that I’ve built through my work and also my experiences of living in a town with not that much diversity, that much culture, and being part of a different culture, Latina culture or Latin American culture, I should say, is navigating that space and feeling like where you belong in this kind of small town. And that’s something that I always faced growing up, so that’s always interested me. I just think that people, all people, should have equal opportunities in life. And those are my morals, those are my values. So, my role as an ally is something that I really focus on in my work. I’ve worked with some amazing charities, doing project management and learning a lot from some amazing, incredible people in the youth sector in particular, all about inclusion, diversity and equality. And this is something that I really know, as I’m moving on to different roles and different jobs, is something I really want to take forward and something that I focus on every day. 

It was absolutely horrendous to see the killing of George Floyd on social media. Shocking, upsetting, but also a reminder of what has been happening for years and something that wasn’t a one-off occasion. So, it really lit a spark in everyone.

I got involved with Black Lives Matter through race council Cymru and I think through my work in the youth sector as well. There were always links to groups like Black Lives Matter and being able to know other people that were in my circle in Porthcawl, people that were real allies that I wanted to join and be part of and I wanted to work with them on something that meant something at that time. 

What does Black Lives Matter mean? Black Lives Matter means to me recognising and raising awareness for the injustice and discrimination that black people face every day in our society and also fighting against that injustice. 

We organised the protests because it kind of lit a spark in everyone and we wanted to do our part. And no matter how kind of small that was, we wanted to get people involved and we wanted to bring a community of people together who were allies. And it was difficult at the time because there was the Pandemic and there were some people in our town. We had some people in our town that were quite against holding protests, but I think all of those things just made it even more important to do them. And it gave us that drive and that motivation to go ahead. It was great to see everyone coming together, people that we knew, people that we didn’t know. 

This was the first protest that I attended and helped organise. I think in terms of my journey to activism, I’m still on the journey and I’m still navigating things like social media and things at the moment. I really try to make change where I can make change and do things through my work, through my daily life, I take a stand against racism. I work hard to come away from being performative with my activism, posting on Instagram and all of those kinds of things that can come across sometimes that nothing’s happening. I’m still on that journey. I’ve definitely not made it to being the activist that I want to be, but I’m still exploring it and seeing what works for me and how I kind of fit into that space as well.

If you have never experienced racism or discrimination, it may be easy to dismiss activism. If you don’t know what it feels like to have microaggressions against you every day, it can sometimes be hard to believe it. But I would just say that people need to start educating themselves more and hearing the stories from people who do face racism and discrimination every day and listening to those stories and accepting, essentially, their privilege.
An inclusive and antiracist Wales, to me, looks like organisations coming together, agencies coming together to strategize and to really put plans in place to create policies, procedures to go to the Senedd and fight for these causes on a national level, to fight for anti-racist Wales. It also means schools need to educate people on becoming antiracist and inclusive. 

I would say, as you grow up, you learn things about yourself and you become more self-aware. Anything that you can put in place to become more self-aware, to learn more about what you think is right and wrong, to learn more about your morals and your values, even if it means cutting toxic people out of your life, this must be considered. I think it’s really important to just know who you are, learn about yourself, be authentic, and through this you will know true activism, your beliefs and develop your drive to be anti – racist. 

No justice, no peace.

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