Professor whose children experienced racist bullying calls for Wales to make 'anti-racist' pledge

anti racist wales- people showing they have zero tolerance for racism
The zero racism Wales campaign has encouraged people around Wales to share how they feel about racism.

A professor whose children experienced racist bullying is calling on people and organisations across Wales to pledge a zero-tolerance approach to racism.

By signing and pledging to Race Council Wales' policy, a person agrees to take a stand against racism and promote a more inclusive and equal society that gives every individual in Wales the right to feel safe, valued and included.

To date, over 1,500 pledges have been made but Professor and founder of Race Council Wales, Uzo Iwobi, says she's not stopping until Wales becomes an 'anti-racist nation'.

The motivation for a 'Zero Racism Wales' runs deeper than just a passion for Uzo, as both she and her family have experienced hate crime. Now she aims to stamp out racism throughout her academic career, becoming the first Black woman specialist policy adviser in Wales.

'They 'didn't want a Black boy' they told him'

Uzo said when her son was a child, he was the victim of a racist assault perpetrated by White children.

She said: "One held the door and three kicked him to an inch of his life.

"They 'didn't want a Black boy' they told him.

"My daughter who is a gifted musician, and a five times BBC listed Radio Wales artist, was bullied severely and she's needed to have serious therapy for 7 years because of racism.

"It is expensive and it's affecting the lives of ordinary people. This is why we will not rest."

After the world was shaken by the death of George Floyd, Professor Iwobi worked with the Welsh Government to consider how a 'proactive anti-racism' approach can help keep racial discrimination 'in check and shift the burden of racism from the victims of such acts to everyone in society.'

The Anti-racist Wales plan built on the findings of a previous report which considered whether 'structural and systemic racism' in Wales had contributed to the higher than average death rate from coronavirus for people from a BAME background.

Black Lives Matter protests took place in Wales' capital and throughout the world. Credit: PA

Professor Iwobi said: "Originally when George Floyd was murdered, there was a seismic shift in understanding that black lives can be snuffed out in front of a video camera whilst the whole world was watching.

"We thought goodness, this could be anywhere. For us who have black pigmentation on our skin, we were asking why?

"I gathered the team in Race Council Cymru and said look, 'something needs to change.'

"I feel there's a simple solution, all it takes to eradicate racism in our world is to ensure that everybody takes an individual and a collective pledge.

"The only person in the world you can control is yourself, so if you pledge to control your own behaviour and attitude that is a huge step in the right direction"

  • Uzo Iwobi on why she decided to start the 'Zero Racism Wales' campaign

Professor Iwobi has been striving for diversity and equality for over 25 years since she moved to Wales from Nigeria and has even been awarded an OBE in recognition for her services to community relations and South Wales.

While her pursuit continues she feels there is 'definitely hope' for Wales.

'They had to stop and listen and they have'

Professor Iwobi said she was "inspired" to see that the Welsh Government has "left no stone unturned" when it comes to accepting and discovering inequality in Wales.

"All cabinet members had to have anti-racism training, which other leaders in the western world have you seen take that kind of journey?" She said.

"This act of humility really melted the hearts of black people to have your leaders have that kind of passion and empathy. They had to stop and listen and they have.

"We know that things can be derailed, so now the baton is firmly in Welsh Government hands."

Nelly is the face of the campaign which began during Race Equality week, last week. Credit: Nelly Adam's Instagram (Queen Niche)

'I want to teach the nation how to become an us'

Activist and campaigner Nelly Adam, also known as 'Queen Niche', has been working with Professor Iwobi to stamp out racism and encourage people to make their pledge.

Last week, during 'Race Equality Week' she used her social media platforms to spread the 'zero racism' message far and wide.

Nelly said: "Myself and Uzo came together because we had this vision to create an anti-racist nation and we plan to grow this out from Wales.

"Everything that I have inside of me to say and to speak, is relevant to the change and cause.

"I want to teach people how to unite, I want to teach the nation how to become an us. I want to re-educate the parts that have been missing. I want people who have been excluded to feel included."

People of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds have sent in video messages of themselves talking about how proud they are to take a stand against unnecessary hate in Wales.

Nelly added: "Now there are real people who have learnt and share their voice to say I want equality for everyone."

Despite the campaign being launched a year ago, Nelly said she is willing to work on this for years to come.

She said: "I never want people to forget that this is a grass-roots movement, this is not being done by big organisations, this is our hard work.

"This is us uniting and saying well we need to make a platform we need to make a tool for people and a pledge so they can understand that racism exists, and [it will] most likely be there lurking. By taking that pledge you can get our support."