Why I went to a Black Lives Matter protest

On Saturday 6 June, I checked that the distance from my home to Bute Park in Cardiff is less than five miles, in accordance with Welsh Government guidelines. I packed up a bag with a mask, a pair of gloves and a bottle of hand sanitiser, and cycled into the city. At the park, I joined the protest but kept more than two metres away from everybody else. I held up my sign, applauded the speakers and, with several hundred others, knelt down on the grass in silence.

Why did I go?

I went because of how I felt when I stood at the ‘Gate of No Return’, a memorial on a beach in Benin, West Africa. Here, an estimated two million people were packed on to ships and transported across the Atlantic to slavery in the Americas.

I went because of how I felt when I stood on the quayside in Charleston, South Carolina in the USA. Here, people continued to be bought and sold for many years after the Transatlantic Slave Trade had been abolished.

I went because of how I felt when I stood in the old dockside warehouses in London, in the shadow of Canary Wharf. Here, sugar from the West Indies – produced by enslaved people – was stored before distribution throughout Britain and beyond.

I went because of how I feel when friends talk about not getting served unless there’s a ‘brother’ behind the bar, about not being welcome in certain sports teams, about not being believed when they state their nationality because ‘they don’t look like it’.

Imperialism. Racism. Unfair trade. I went to the Black Lives Matter protest because we need to choose to feel the bitter legacy of this unholy trinity – until no one is forced to feel it anymore.