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‘This isn’t over’: Black Lives Matter protest organiser speaks about tackling racism in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 05:30 11 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:35 11 June 2020

One of the speakers at the Black Lives Matter protest at Christchurch Park in Ipswich last weekend. Picture: IAN BURT

One of the speakers at the Black Lives Matter protest at Christchurch Park in Ipswich last weekend. Picture: IAN BURT

Ian Burt Photography

A peaceful protest in Christchurch park last weekend made history as people from across Ipswich gathered to call for racial equality – while remaining socially distanced – but what are the next steps to eradicate racism in Suffolk?

Sheila Barbosa organised the Black Lives Matter peaceful protest which took place on Saturday June 6 in Christchurch Park. Picture: SHEILA BARBOSASheila Barbosa organised the Black Lives Matter peaceful protest which took place on Saturday June 6 in Christchurch Park. Picture: SHEILA BARBOSA

The organiser of the protest, Sheila Barbosa, is passionate about ensuring the discussion about race does not fade away, but instead stays front and centre as an important issue.

“That day in Christchurch Park, a police officer turned to me and said this is history right here,” she recalled.

“The protests show there is a racism problem, in Ipswich, Colchester, Peterborough, Norwich and across the country.

“What people should know from now on is that was only the beginning and we will try to do more to raise awareness.”

Hundreds of people attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Christchurch Park, Ipswich on Saturday June 6. Picture: IAN BURTHundreds of people attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Christchurch Park, Ipswich on Saturday June 6. Picture: IAN BURT

The 34-year-old, who was born in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, but has lived in Ipswich for 13 years, wants to ensure parents and grandparents are getting educated about the movement because they can have the greatest impact.

She said: “If a child is prejudiced it is because they have learnt it from their parents, they are not born with racist views.

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“If we can educate those people then the next generation will be better.”

The Portuguese national condemned the actions of Conservative councillor Robin Vickery who made headlines when he re-posted racist content on Facebook which called for the deportation of Sadiq Khan and Diane Abbott, and compared the death of Lee Rigby to make a political point.

MORE: Councillor quits after hundreds of complaints over sharing of racist posts

“It is because of people like him that we should do something now,” Miss Barbosa said. “When you think you are superior to someone else then you are a problem.

“We are all the same inside, we are all human beings – we don’t want black supremacy, we just want to be equal.”

As part of her work to change the mentality of those in Suffolk, Miss Barbosa is creating a photography project ZOOMIND showing a reversed reality to make white people think about if it was the other way around and they were the subjugated people.

She added: “In areas like Suffolk where there are not that many black people we need to be aware and educate people, we need to change the mentality.

“This isn’t over – it is never too late for people to learn.”

MORE: Hundreds join Ipswich Black Lives Matter protest


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