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Iolanda Banu Veigas

Iolanda Banu Viegas

Protest location

BLM Wrexham

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I did experience racism on many occasions, not just by myself, but also my mum. She was a victim of racism and many members of my community have been suffering from this problem. So, it is an ongoing issue.

I am part of a community here in Wrexham, which we formed about ten or maybe more years ago, because I was born in Mozambique and I am part of the Portuguese diaspora. We are about 2000 Portuguese speaker’s descendants that live in the area and we have members from Portugal, Mozambique, Angela Santo, Cape Verde, Timor, Macau etc. We love getting together, sharing our different cultures and traditions, but the only thing that we have in common is that we all speak Portuguese. So, I do work with them more closely and I also work with all the other diverse communities from Wrexham, North Wales and all over the world. We are an international community.Β 

One of the major problems which is general to most of the migrant communities living in Wales is the language barrier. When there is a language barrier, we do not understand the laws or the system, and most of the issues that we need to live with on a daily basis. So, I started to support the language barrier and that was when I began to realise there were other problems going underneath those issues. We started to receive complaints of students in the schools being treated differently and adults in the workplace also being treated differently, including several other cases. This led us to find out if there were any services that could support us with that. At the time, there was nothing much but they were lucky to have a good community cohesion team in which they put together information in various languages about hate crimes, how to deal with it, who to contact and support and so on.
We began to train our communities to let them know that racism is not something that we should accept and be okay with, including the need to report and do something about it. We faced another problem when we started to report because the services were not prepared to deal with the racism, the police were also not understanding what was racism. We started to understand that there was racism even in those important authorities but we were very lucky because there was always someone who understands the problem. We could work around with the people involved from the police, the council, and in the schools trying to do something about it. It is still a long process because we are still working on it.

Black lives matter in every single way, not just in the workplace or schools, but everywhere. We do need more representation in every level of society. We need people like ourselves who understand us, our cultures and our languages. Hence, we need to keep fighting to be together, to trust each other and to get our friends and allies to help us on this journey. This is just the beginning, which is something that should have happened but we have been seeing that nothing is changing much. Black Lives Matter is me, it is you, it is all of us. When we say Black lives matter, we do not mean that only Black lives matter, we all matter the same way.Β 

I was always an activist, I was never the quiet type. Every time there was something that I knew was unfair, I could not just keep quiet. I am the one who has to step in and do something or say something about it. I always felt the need that I had to do something, otherwise my conscience would not let me sleep. I have always been an activist since forever, far back from when I was younger, I always liked to fight for the people who were categorised as second category and I never thought that was fair. I always thought we are equal, we should be treating each other equally. We are all the same, no matter who you are, where you come from, or your skin colour. That is what I believe, that is my passion.

Black Lives Matter is not just an American movement. It became international as we have Black Lives Matter representatives. This is a movement that may have started in America, but it travelled across the world in particular on that June 2020, where the entire world stood. There were new groups that started to be formed all over the world here in Wales and in Wrexham. So, this is not a movement that belongs to only the Americans.

Never give up the fight for your brothers and sisters, because we are all here to work with you, to help you. Just keep doing what you are doing, never give up on us and believe in yourself. That is how we can make a better world.Β 


No justice, no peace.

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Iolanda Banu Viegas – BLM Wrexham (4)
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