No Bigotry No Racism Wall Mural

 

Damien Dempsey unveils WARN mural

Singer Damien Dempsey unveils WARN mural

Much of the media coverage of racist incidents in the recent past has concentrated on the awful, violent racist attacks which have taken place with increasing frequency.  While it is undoubtedly important that such attacks are highlighted there is a danger that two things may happen. Firstly, people may unconsciously equate racism solely with brutal physical attacks on individuals. Secondly, because the highest proportion of these attacks has taken place in South Belfast it may lead to complacency in West Belfast whereby people think ‘its people in other communities who are racist’.    Yet the experience of minority ethnic communities in West Belfast belies both these views.

Filipino staff working in the RVH report constant low level harassment and intimidation, ranging from verbal abuse to stones and bottles being thrown at them on their way to and from work.  There have been incidents where Filipinos, Lithuanians and members of other minority ethnic communities have had their homes attacked.  Traveller halting sites are regularly attacked, with missiles being thrown and racist abuse hurled by people driving by.  Travellers living on these sites endure horrendous living conditions, lacking even basic facilities.  Pickets have been organised to prevent Travellers from moving into houses in local areas.  In addition to this, the stares, the hostility, the racist remarks  or ‘jokes’ all create a culture whereby members of minority ethnic communities cannot truly feel part of the West Belfast community.

Yet we can work together, with members of minority ethnic communities to change this.  People in West Belfast know just how powerful it is when ordinary people come together to challenge discrimination and injustice in our society.  Now is the time to take a stand against racism in our community  We all have a part to play in preventing racism from gaining a further foothold in our streets, our districts, our schools, workplaces, social clubs and leisure centres.

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