IWD2021: Janett Walker - From courtroom trials to tackling racism in Cumbria

"When those protests started, it meant that I had to start looking at it again and I had to start dealing with it." : Watch the interview with the Chair of Anti Racist Cumbria Janett Walker.

In the first of our series, we hear from Janett Walker.

She is a first descendent of the Windrush Generation and moved to Cumbria 13 years ago. Janett worked for almost twenty years as a lawyer, but decided to quit due to the discrimination she received as woman of colour.

Speaking to ITV Border, Janett recalls the moment at the beginning of her career when she walked into a courtroom and was told to leave due to her hair. She said: "Needless to say, I lost the case.

"The aggression I was met with for no other reason than the fact that I was a black woman really hit home - and I knew that I was always going to have to fight."

Black Lives Matter demonstrators walking to Downing Street, 2020. Credit: PA

In the months after the Black Lives Matter movement swept across the world, Janett co-founded Anti Racist Cumbria.

The group is based in Windermere and was set up to end racial inequality through action and education, and provides a platform to discuss issues surrounding racism.

She said: "I think when we saw what was going on around the world, it opened up all of those emotions. What you tend to do is you put all your emotions in a box and you put the lid on it and you keep it shut and leave them there.

"The lid was forced open and I felt all these emotions of anger, I was frustrated and I was extremely sad to see that so many things are still going on in the world that really hadn't changed.

"What I'd done is closed my eyes to it so that I didn't have to deal with it. When those protests started, it meant that I had to start looking at it again and I had to start dealing with it."

The group's main goal is for Cumbria to become the UK’s first actively and openly anti-racist county "where anyone who lives or works can succeed and live without fear of discrimination because of the colour of their skin."

International Women's Day is celebrated on 8th March across the globe. Credit: ITV News Graphics

To marking International Women's Day, throughout this week ITV Border will share the stories of five inspirational women from Cumbria and southern Scotland.

In this series we hear from activists tackling racism in Cumbria, nurses working on the coronavirus frontline and volunteers who have dedicated their lives to helping others.