'Two generations. One fight': Black men talk about their experiences of racism in Ipswich

Tevan Allen and Hamil Clarke. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Two men. Almost 60 years apart in age. But do their experiences of being young black men in Ipswich vary that much?

How has racism changed over the years? And what are their thoughts on the Black Lives Matter Movement?

ITV News Anglia's Tanya Mercer has been speaking to two generations of black men about growing up in Suffolk.

  • Tevan Allen

Tevan recently graduated from the University of Essex and plays for Coggeshall Town. Credit: Tevan Allen/Coggeshall Town

Tevan is 23. He was born and bred in Ipswich. He has just graduated from the University of Essex and is a semi-professional footballer for Coggeshall Town.

He's also a DJ and spoke at the Black Lives Matter march in Ipswich earlier this month.

  • Hamil Clarke

Hamil Clarke. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Hamil is 80. He came over to Ipswich in 1960 when he was 20 years old.

He’s owned his own business, been a local councillor, mayor of Ipswich and set up the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality.

  • What are their experiences of racism?

An example of the type of sign Hamil used to see around Ipswich. Credit: Hamil Clarke

“Life as a young black man in the 60s wasn’t easy”, Hamil reflects.

"You couldn’t go to clubs or bars because you were banned. You had difficulty finding somewhere to live because the English didn’t want to rent you any house. They’d tell you ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs’”.

Decades on and Tevan has also experienced overt racism: “I’ve been playing football and I’ve been called names.

"I’ve been stopped by the police and I haven’t done anything wrong. Sometimes I think we can fall into a stereotype and be seen as a threat. However they don’t know the content of my character.”

It’s something Hamil remembers too: “I was stopped a number of times by the police – driving and walking”, he said. “And older people would try to avoid you, they’d cross over the other side of the road or step off the footpath.”

  • What have they made of the Black Lives Matter protests?

The Black Lives Matter protest in Ipswich. Credit: Tevan Allen/IpswichBLM2020

Hamil agrees. He’s been involved in the civil rights movement for more than 50 years. He says he’s sad that in 2020 the fight is still necessary.

“Now that we have Black Lives Matter, young people have taken over what we’ve been fighting for, which I’ve wanted to see for a long time. So I hope that momentum continues.”

  • What about the future?

The protest in Ipswich on June 6. Credit: Tevan Allen/IpswichBLM2020

Tevan says the movement is about the future. “I know when I have kids, I don’t want them to grow up not having an opportunity to have the right education or be on the same playing field as everyone else.”

“So keep fighting!” Hamil urges him. The younger man nods: “Keep fighting”, Tev repeats. “That’s what I’m going to do”.

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