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Chloe Rees

Chloe Rees

Protest location

BLM Bridgent

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When the Black Lives Matter movement happened and we saw the events that were going on in America, I took the decision along with other like minds to show our community that we stood in solidarity and we wanted to bring the conversation into focus. We wanted everybody around us to know that we were people who cared, who wanted to listen and wanted to do something about the things that were happening overseas as well as the very real experiences that were happening on our doorstep here in Bridgend and Porthcawl.Β 

Black Lives Matter for me, is an idea and concept that is about listening to the experiences of Black and minority ethnicities. It is about taking every opportunity to learn about things that you may not have learned before or you may not have understood because it has never been exposed to you. Black Lives Matter is about deciding not to be a bystander in the circumstances.Β 

It was horrendous to see, it was more powerful and scary that when you listen to the Black voices where they were saying that this is not something that shocked them, and was not something so farfetched and something that is not part of their everyday experience. It is just an eye opener. This needs to be brought into conversation. It is something that we need to be talking about as white people, as people in towns where there may not be a wide population of Black and other minority ethnicities.Β 

I think sometimes people think that these problems are very much city problems. That protest is something that happened in city centres in Cardiff and Swansea. There is also a concept that β€œbecause there is no wide population of Black communities in places like Bridgend and Porthcawl, then it is not our problem”. The fact is that there are people who experience racism in Bridgend and Porthcawl. There are people who have to live with prejudices and discrimination in their everyday lives, hence why they came here in the sun and in the rain, when it was windy and cold to protest. We had people bringing their dogs with little placards attached to them. We had children, babies, people of all genders and races coming together. It was wonderful to see that people do care and there is appetite to learn more. Also, it was not really seen before in Bridgend and Porthcawl which was not something that was on the agenda. When we arrived, we were putting up our banner along this little shelter that we had and when we are putting our bags under the bench that was there, we noticed that somebody had graffitied a Nazi symbol which was a bit of a talk of the protest. There was a protest against it, we were able to get everybody out in the community and at the end, everybody decided that they would put their placards over the Nazi symbol that was graffiti on the shelter.
This just made me start thinking about the fact that I did not force anyone to come out that day when I organised that protest, I did not ask anyone to bring banners or the messages on the banners, everybody came together in the community against racism and for a society that reflected equality and free from discrimination.Β  It was just a simple silly idea of covering the Nazi symbol, but it meant so much more. We are not going to be tolerable to injustice anymore, whether it is in Cardiff, Swansea, Wales, Bridgend or Porthcawl, we are all going to do what we can.Β 

I would say that when a topic does not affect you, you cannot really understand the consequences of the issue that is being dealt with. If you really want to be serious about understanding racism that happens in Bridgend, Porthcawl, or in this country, you need to listen to the people that it affects because once you start listening to them, you would not have the view that β€˜β€™it does not affect us’’ because when your brother or your sister is affected by something as racism, it affects us all. Everybody is affected by injustice when we are not collective in our actions.Β 

My journey into activism has come from somebody who, when I was a little girl, I would be so annoyed when I would see things that were not right and I would be arguing with my family members around the dinner table but as I have grown older, I have learnt that you have to strategise, you have to think about your actions, you need to think and plan. Hence, the Black Lives Matter movement was just one of many kinds of areas where I thought I could make a difference in my local community. People think you cannot change the world, but all you need to do is to actually do what is right in front of you which is part of a bigger, wider context.Β 

An anti-racist Wales for me, is a Wales that means anyone of any skin colour having exactly the same opportunities. It also means that we need to listen, we need to learn, and then we need to be proactive of how we are going to make things better. They do not have to live with the fear and the weight of racism on their shoulders.

See what you can do on your doorstep, see who else is talking and thinking about making a change. Strategise, organise, mobilise, then you can make a difference.Β 

No justice. Peace.Β 

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Chloe Rees – BLM Bridgend (12)
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