As part of my voluntary work on the Amplify Black Voices UK project, I have been running short portrait sessions with people who have stories they want to share. You can find Leroy's words below. Please take time to consider his words, and also check out the UK-wide project to learn more and discover more personal stories.
First time I was aware of experiencing racism I must’ve been about 12.
We were on a coach and I was at the back with my pals - another school coach was alongside. Queue all the gesticulations you’d expect from kids that age - and I was right in amongst it!
It was on a motorway so we were together for a while. They then hold a sign up saying “coon watchers”. I’d never heard that word before, I’m pretty sure one of my white mates told me what it meant. I became so very aware that I was the only back kid on both coaches. And I was literally hot with shame. Reckon that was also the first time I realised I could blush. Like I’d somehow let the side down. By being black.
I hadn’t thought about that for ages. My mixed-race niece in Germany was racially abused aged 7. The thing is, kids are mad and they say stuff. But they say stuff they hear. And that’s the really scary part. Because it’s stuff that’s not said outside the house.
It bothers me that people consider racism a political issue and not a humanitarian one. That there are people who refuse to believe institutional racism exists. And who feel that any support for equality should be conditional - who are far too comfortable abdicating responsibility for the fight: “BLM is too controversial, I can’t support that”. Cool - but can you stand against racism without it? Probably. It’s not a black issue - it’s an everyone issue.