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Cardiff Selena Earney 16 02 24 6

Selena Earney

Protest location

BLM Cardiff

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On the morning of the 30 May, about five days after the murder of George Floyd. I was scrolling through social media and I could see all the pain, the upset and anger, about how he was treated and how the black community is treated in general. I felt so upset by it that I went on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram just to see if anyone was doing some kind of demonstration or protest. In Wales, we think racism is absolutely abhorrent and it is important to recognise the racism that does happen in this country.
Being an Ally for me is to actively listen, not talking over anyone and hear what is really going on in this country because we remain ignorant to it if we don’t and we can never change anything or know the ugly truth behind where we live. The reason that this protest happened was because there was a need to stand up, there was a need for a space for people to share their stories, share their experiences and be heard, and not think ‘oh, well, if it’s not happening to me, it’s not happening’. That is not the truth.

I set up my own little protest. I didn’t expect anyone really to show up, I thought it was going to be me and my friend and colleague Seun with a cardboard sign. The reaction that we had was amazing and the attention that we got snowballed.
It started with 100 people, then 200 people, and then within 24 hours, we had about 1000 people saying that they wanted to come and it was just amazing. But basically, I just showed up and everyone else who came did the rest. I was taken aback by all the stories which was a really eye-opening experience for me because I was, and probably still quite ignorant to racism in Wales. I always want to educate myself and know more about the country that I live in and how it’s treating our people and I was just amazed by people’s bravery and honesty to tell their stories in front of everyone.

I would say to people who think Black Lives Matter is an American issue, it is not. Racism is everywhere and we can’t accept it. We need to stand up to it. I understood the apprehension for people to not want to meet in large groups during the pandemic. But the thing is that we said social distance, we brought masks and encouraged mask wearing, there were people who didn’t come because they were ill. Everyone who attended the protests acted responsibly and there was no significant rise in COVID cases or in hospitalisation after the protest. So, I don’t believe that it made any difference anyway after the fact.

What I would say is that it doesn’t have to be some sort of grand gesture. Just showing up makes a difference. All these little changes that you can do makes a difference. Standing up for someone. If you hear something happen, see something happen, standing up for it, that’s the change that makes the difference. Whether you’re planning a demonstration or a protest or just showing up to it and listening, that’s the difference. You’re making a difference doing that and staying true to your ideals and your morals.
No justice, no peace

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