Members of the Youth Connect South West team conducted some informal interviews with some of the young people they support in Bath, and asked them the following questions about racism, the climate crisis and Covid-19. Here’s what they had to say:
Do you think there is racism in Bath?
‘Yes – there is racism everywhere, no matter where you go. I’ve experienced this first-hand. I’ve been called a stupid Black whore on the bus, I filmed it, but the police did nothing.’
‘If you go to Bristol, you won’t see racism – it’s very multicultural. But in Bath, it’s very white. A typical white person will look at someone differently just because of their colour.’
‘I’ve seen someone be racist, because someone has disrespected them….so they’re being disrespectful back.’
‘I’ve got older Black siblings – I don’t think racism will ever end.’
‘A kid that was here earlier was called the N word.’
How would you tackle racism?
‘BLM made a very big impact. All these marches are happening, but people (in power) are using Covid as an excuse to not do anything about it.’
‘I think that people need to be educated more. Get people more involved in groups, to show we’re all the same.’
‘It starts from a young age when you start experiencing racism. They should teach more about racism in school, from year 1 upwards.’
‘Even when you have Black History month, you aren’t that informed. You don’t really hear about Martin Luther King. You might hear about slavery, but not about the person who abolished slavery.’
‘We should talk about the good and bad sides of history in school. You need representation.’
‘It’s the 21st Century, people should know it’s not ok to be racist.’
Climate Change – what is your view? Does it worry you? What should we do about it?
‘I think we need to do something about it, but I don’t know much about it.’
‘All of the big companies need to cut down a bit and stop using the sh*tty products they use.’
‘Get better transport for young people – remember the skyline that they were planning, get that to go ahead.’
‘We should reduce plastic.’
‘The scooters in Bath are good. They should be made more accessible for kids under 18’
Life in the pandemic – what should we do in Bath to tackle it?
‘I didn’t go out that much anyway. In the summer it was hard, as everyone wanted to go out.’
‘There’s not much we can do…’
‘It’s made everyone behind in school. Old people are blaming young people, but in the longer term the young people will be affected more.’
Schools shouldn’t have been opened. Different year groups should have been in on different days. They should have been told what to do, and then sent home to do it.
Are there any groups in Bath who are treated unfairly?
Young people – ‘they don’t need to hate on us, just because we’re young’
How can we improve this?
Bring communities back together, do actual community things. Play rangers and Fun Days – when everyone was together.
Even if it was Bingo with the young people and old people together.
‘I fear I may birth a son
And his black lungs
Will be burdened
For they cannot see
That he cannot breathe
I may have to bury him
Is this our genocide
I have my tubes tied
Or they take his life
To not birth’
My sister told me that when she birthed her son she was consumed by fear. Turning her TV and phone off, she could no longer watch the disregard and disposal of Black Lives. She said one child is enough. I feel that same fear.
After the massive upheaval of an international move, we found ourselves settling in the beautiful city of Bath. This was much to my surprise, as Bath whilst a lovely city to visit, had never seemed like a place I could see our family settling down. We were conscious of the lack of diversity and as an interracial couple with 2 mixed race children we felt, initially that Bristol would be a better fit for us. However, circumstances led us to Bath, which very quickly charmed and surprised us.
Moving countries had been really hard and I spent much of 2019 struggling with depression. Part of my journey out of that was realising just how important meaningful human connection is for my mental health and accepting just how hard it had been to leave close friends behind and start over again. I had consciously decided to really work on building deeper connections when the Covid19 Pandemic hit. It was a very challenging time, in a relatively new city, one that was not quite yet ‘home’.
During the months of lockdown in Bath I was certainly grateful to be in such a beautiful area with green spaces and mind clearing walks easily accessible, but I still didn’t see much of myself in the city or feel any real connection.
The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor shook my system so very deeply. As a black British woman, I had never experienced anything as emotionally traumatic in my lifetime. The global protests that followed, whilst crucial were also really triggering. Living in Bath, I felt very visible and not certain of how things would pan out here.
Then the people of Bath joined their voices. I was truly inspired and felt so supported by the number of people who attended the Black Lives Matter peaceful protest in Green Park. I felt real support from people of all ages and races for the BLM cause. I also had never felt so vulnerable. The far right were angry and emboldened. It was a very scary time.
There is plenty of work to do, but I am encouraged by the support I have witnessed here in Bath for equality and racial justice. I’d like to see more opportunities for sharing, connecting and celebrating diversity and I would love it if Bath could build on what started in Green Park this summer with an annual event along the lines of Pride. It’s so important to create opportunities where we can celebrate our differences and share our humanity. How powerful would it be to have a positive celebration of diversity, here in the beautiful city of Bath!
I am 23 years old and have lived on and off in Bath all my life (apart from my 3 years at University). For the past few years I have been involved in attending protests and some activism, mainly outside Bath but sometimes in the City. I attended the Climate Strikes and was very impressed by the display of unity, joyfulness that I saw there. It gave me a lot of hope.
The thing that I’d like to draw attention to is the racism and far right activity that I’ve seen first hand, from people shouting “white power” at the BLM demo in the centre in the summer to the Generation Identity stickers I spent weeks ripping down across Bath a few summers ago to the Yellow vest protests where far right agitators came into the City to spew their bile, I feel that racism is a massive issue that often gets ignored in this city.
I feel that we need to discuss this openly, and I was so impressed with the BLM demo I attended in Bath in the summer, despite the marring of it by the disgusting people shouting abuse.
White British means
I get to tick the ‘Top’ box
White British means
Never being Other,
Never having to consider my race, or my colour
White British means
Never having to wonder if my colour affects my chances,
Or to really question people’s answers
White British means
I am 9 times less likely to be stopped and searched,
4 times less likely to die of Covid,
5 times less likely to die in childbirth
But systematic racism doesn’t exist in this country, right?
At least, that’s what Boris tells us