Swansea lawyer Uzo Iwobi told she would never work in the profession because of her skin colour

Uzo Iwobi photo
Uzo Iwobi was awarded an OBE for her contributions to community race relations Credit: Uzo Iwobi

A lawyer and former specialist policy advisor to the Welsh Government said she was told she would never get a job in the legal profession because she is black.

Uzo Iwobi moved to Wales from Nigeria to join her husband, Andrew, a professor at practice at the University of Wales Trinity St David, in 1993.

A trained barrister at the time, she was forced to work two jobs in a toy shop and crisp factory as she said she was met with racist rejections when she applied for legal work.

"I thought I could straight away walk into a job in the legal profession, but going into that job centre they said, 'What's your name?' I said, Uzo... They said, 'Uzo? How do you say that again? You better have an English name.'

"So I had to use a baptismal name, which I don't really feel like is mine, Linda. So I came in an Uzo, I left a Linda. And she said to me, 'You can never get a job in the legal profession because you're black'."

Uzo said her children were targeted by racist bullies Credit: Uzo Iwobi

Uzo said her children also faced "horrendous racism" growing up.

"My son was locked in a toilet at the age of seven. He was born here in Wales, and he was locked in a toilet by four white kids. One held the door, three kicked him to an inch of his life.

"My daughter, a very gifted pianist, composer, musician, was tortured, really verbally tortured by people saying, 'don't get another A. You don't deserve another A, you black this...

"My windows were smashed. We've moved two or three times. I've been told to go back to my country, that I don't deserve to be here, that we're here to take people's jobs and money. It is incessant. It is never stopping.

"Everyday racism is a reality for people like me."

Uzo has been fighting against racism for many years. She founded the organisation Race Council Cymru and has been awarded an OBE for her contributions to community race relations and South Wales communities.

She is currently encouraging people across Wales to sign a zero-racism pledge.

"You cannot effectively say that we're an anti-racist Wales when people are disadvantaged every day by their skin colour...

"Look at what's going on in Ukraine, where there is a humanitarian crisis going on and what we're dealing with, as Race Council Cymru are the voices of African and African Caribbeans, Jamaicans, Nigerians who got to the border with Poland and they're blocked completely because of their skin colour, they're saying only the white and blue-eyed...

"I've watched the media demarcate on the grounds of colour. So, you see, the disadvantage continues.

"And what we want to do is for every single organisation to sign for zero-racism pledge that we've launched, which enables you to download a policy that tells you what you need to do to be anti-racist."

Despite being a former specialist policy advisor to the Welsh Government, Uzo said: "I will continue to disrupt the establishment because change will only come when we challenge the status quo to improve equality for all..."

"I will never stop until race equality becomes a reality for everybody.

"I will remain the voice of the voiceless, and I will remain able to challenge any and every organisation to improve how they develop and deliver an anti-racist Wales."

  • Watch Adrian Masters' interview with Uzo Iwobi on Face To Face, Thursday 17th March at 10:45pm on ITV Cymru Wales and later online.