‘Devastating’ - Members of Norfolk’s black community on death of George Floyd
PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:33 04 June 2020
“It drains your soul.”
This is how Raleigh Chiwuta, a 35-year-old radiographer living in Hethersett, describes his reaction to the death of George Floyd.
Mr Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in the United States last week after a white police officer kept his knee on the side of Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a street.
The death has prompted a wave of protests in cities across the United States and a surge in support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mr Chiwuta, who moved from Zimbabwe to England in 2001, said: “With George Floyd, for us it’s a bit like, it’s kind of like a good thing, but only in the sense that you can finally say to people, ‘you see? This is what we’re talking about’.
“I cried yesterday. It’s harrowing because you think, that’s a human being, it’s like a collective suffering, you feel like that could have been me.
“I feel so exasperated today.”
Mr Chiwuta lived in London for a few years before moving to Norwich when his wife, who is half-English, was offered a training position as a GP.
He works in health care as a radiographer.
He said: “The thing about racism is, it starts to get complicated when people talk about institutional racism and micro-aggressions.
“I haven’t experienced people saying the n-word to my face.
“But some patients will come in and say ‘so are you doing the scan?’ Or for example, I’m a trained radiographer, I could be working with an assistant, and when asking questions they will ask the assistant as opposed to asking me, it’s things like that. I think this is where we are now, it’s not like it was in the 60s.
“When walking into a village pub you see people looking at you.
“It’s hard because at some point a place has to feel like home. For me I love England, I think it’s a good country, I think it’s a fair country, I haven’t felt hindered in many ways.
“But you can never get used to it because you’re always reminded of it.”
Mr Chiwuta was born after Zimbabwe won independence in 1980 and said he was “lucky” to never experience the subjugation of the country’s black people while it was still a colony.
“But South Africa was just around the corner, and we knew what was going on there,” he said.
He said that being black was “like living in this parallel reality and trying to explain”.
Figures from the Home Office reveal there were 641 hate crimes reported in 2018/19 in Norfolk.
Nevv Moore, chief executive and presenter at Harbour Radio in Great Yarmouth, said: “When I arrived in Great Yarmouth people were very sceptical about me and asked why I had come to ‘their town’.
“I said it’s about education, nothing more. There was no response.
“The point is every life matters.
“People need to stop judging. It’s that simple. Black people will always be judged.”
The actor Roger Nsengiyumva, 26, said he has answered the question of whether he has experienced racism while growing up in Norfolk.
He said: “I’d rather change the question to ask the readers, at what age do you learn that people get treated differently and if you don’t, why? And is it something you’re interested in now?
“I’d rather talk about what we’re going to do as a species, as a civilisation.
“The question is what do we do now as a people, what can you do to make it a better place?”
Organisers of a Black Lives Matter protest planned for Norwich this weekend are now asking people to stay at home and instead take part via livestream.
The demonstration, scheduled for Sunday (June 7) following widespread protests across the United States, was originally to take place in the city centre.
But a post on the event’s Facebook page is now asking people to stay at home over coronavirus concerns.
The post states: “We have revised the nature of this demonstration. We will be live-streaming the protest online and we ask that those of you who were wishing to attend, instead stay at home and tune into the livestream.
“This was not an easy decision to make, but we first and foremost stand with black people and their ongoing struggles everywhere and we believe they should be afforded a platform without risk of illness - a platform where they can be protected.”
So far almost 1,000 people have signed up to protest.
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