A couple who founded a dance school focused on seeing people for who they are have spoken about the racism they have experienced.

In a moving video Toby and Jo Gorniak share their story of being a married mixed-race couple in Plymouth.

The saddest story I know is from when our final young son Antonio was born. He was white. When Toby held him in his arms he said ‘He’s white! He never has to go through what I went through’.

Jo Gorniak

Jo says the racism they have both experienced is "so subtle" it would not be visible to many, and it is only through being married to Toby she has seen it first hand.

She says: "We've been to so many anniversaries, meals and occasions where they'll smile at me, but when they see Toby, they'll just, oh it's this look. I can't even explain it."

Even if it's not a look, it's a feeling. And you can't tell anyone. You can't call over the manager and say 'oh he looked my husband weird' or 'he made us feel weird and has just ruined our night and I want to go home'.

Jo Gorniak

The mum of six says it was not something that happens on select occasions, but instead says it happens "all the time".

Toby, known as Toby G, is a Romany Gypsy refugee who came from Poland to Plymouth as a young child. In 2018, he was awarded an MBE by the Duke of Cambridge for his Outstanding Community Contribution.

Sharing his raw feelings Toby tells the camera he wishes people would "appreciate my life as much as their own", adding it is his experiences of racism throughout his life that leads him to live by respect, peace, love unity and fun.

I want people to appreciate my life as much as they appreciate their own. The justice you have every day, and the freedom you have every day - I want that. I want that for my children, I want that for all people.

Toby Gorniak
Street Factory creates community and builds-up members through a mix of personal mentoring based on the core elements of respect, peace, love, unity and fun. Credit: ITV West Country

Toby says he always has his family in the back of his mind, and staying safe for them.

He tells the video: “One of the things my wife says to me is ‘I need you to come home. At the end of the day, come home’.

"No matter what happens, no matter who does what to me, I’ve got to put my head down because I have six children and I’ve got to come home.”

I want to wake up and not worry, and I going to get put out by the police, how am I going to act, what am I going to do, what am I going to say? Will someone say something to me today? How do I act?

Toby Gorniak
Toby says his dance school is for anyone regardless of age, race, background or ability.

Speaking about the Black Lives Matter movement Jo says "the world has had enough" and she wants everybody to stand together.

People say ‘Black Lives Matter’, they’re not saying that all lives don’t matter. They’re saying please let my life matter as much as yours.

Jo Gorniak