By ITV Wales presenter Dr Adeola Dewis
We are reminded to say the names of the victims of police brutality and white supremacy.
We are reminded to prevent the notoriety of those who perpetuate the abuse of power. I stood opposite Cardiff Castle in the midst of protestors, appropriately socially distant, who were gathered in solidarity with our diaspora brothers, sisters and allies in the USA, following continued public murders of Black people.
This year initially saw the killing of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd’s murder was a tipping point for the global protests that followed.
That afternoon, the protest space provided a symbolic embrace, de-marking a deliberate gesture that demanded a change. People were also gathered to give voice to their own experiences of racism in our city. The "othering" of Black and Brown bodies consistently begs the question, "How do we make ourselves more human?" Racism, ranging from a naivety of difference through to deliberate hatred, runs deep in the DNA of the building blocks that make up who we are and how we function daily.
This re-hashing of BLM has revealed clearly that, like a steady drop of water, even unintentional micro aggressions build up to negatively affect our experiences. Racism is so engrained in the ways we function that most often, it goes unnoticed – to those who perpetuate it. For those, like me, walking through these spaces Black, foreign and female, I have little choice but to constantly negotiate how my intersecting realities affect the spaces I inhabit.
Anti-Black sentiments and attitudes directed towards me manifest through various encounters, including with some of my own Brown sisters and Black brothers who cling closely to legacies of colonialism. This period has awoken a fire in many of my colleagues and the general feeling that now is the appropriate time to reveal some of the anxieties, frustrations and fears we bear under our masks.
A sign plastered with the deep, bold text ‘Black Lives Matter’ was met with a passing comment by a young boy on a bike ride with his friends: “No they don’t.”
This young boy’s words are clearly visible in a more permanent, deliberate gesture left in this space – an echo from the past, that resonates far deeper.
I read of Governor Picton in Trinidad history books. He was the island’s first governor in 1797, after Trinidad was surrendered to the British by the Spanish. My first physical encounter with Picton’s statue was five years ago at my doctorate graduation in Cardiff. I stood next to it, defiant, in an attempt to acknowledge that perhaps my people had survived despite his efforts. Present did not survive. As an enslaved young woman who had run away, she was executed. Louisa Calderon, a 14-year-old young woman of mixed heritage, was tortured. Many others were executed, tortured and mutilated at his hands. Historian Hollis Liverpool describes his actions on the island as beastly and brutal. Have the years eroded at the ‘astonishment’ of his savagery?
In a city that is home to one of the oldest multicultural, multi-ethnic communities in the UK, where Black and Brown indigenous Welsh bodies and voices have often been vilified, exoticized and systematically silenced, the time to take notice of these deliberate gestures for change, is far overdue.
Our young boys seem to transform from ‘cute’ to ‘a threat’ by puberty.
From the Windrush scandal to BLM in this ‘dear land of our fathers’, where monuments of White brutality still stand tall, we are reminded that the very matter of our basic freedoms to exist while Black continues to be compromised.