The Bethesda family suffers from microaggressions and jokes

The family receives many comments in the area

A mixed-race family described suffering occasional, racist comments towards them, saying a small minority were “still living in the 50s”.

These took the form of jokes and social exclusion.

Medwen Edwards, 43, lives in Bethesda, Gwynedd, with her partner Lamin Touray, 39, who is originally from The Gambia.

Microaggressions are “everyday displays, humiliations, put-downs and insults” that people suffer in their daily lives, Race Alliance Wales said.

Medwen, mother of nine, has three children with Lamin – Leo, three, Koby, two, and nine-week-old Aminata.

“I’m very lucky to have him in my life and so are the kids. He’s so kind and loving to all of us,” she said.

Having grown up in the Ogwen Valley, Medwen explained that racism was a rare occurrence as a whole, but her family had experienced microaggressions several times.

“I still get comments now, it’s like some people are still living in the 50s,” Medwen said.

“We only get a few little remarks. Comments and things like that, but otherwise everyone here is great with him.”

Medwen meets Lamin's family in Gambia

Medwen traveled to Gambia to meet Lamin’s family

She met her gym partner in 2017 after the data analyst moved to study IT at Bangor University.

She believes saying you’re anti-racist isn’t enough, adding: “It’s easy enough to say you are, but it’s usually a different story when it comes time to show it, isn’t it?”

Comments include people saying they can’t be a “proper family” because they have white and mixed children.

“Your children can’t love each other because they are a different color from each other,” was another comment.

Medwen and Lamin on a beach in The Gambia

The couple believes that everyone should call out any form of racism

Medwen was also asked: “Why do you want to date a black man? Why? He’s an illegal immigrant.”

Although Lamin doesn’t speak Welsh, he said he understood enough of the language to understand what he meant.

Medwen believes people say these things because “they’re not used to black people.”

“In Bethesda, not everyone is used to black people, and because of that, they can be pretty narrow minded sometimes,” he said.

Lamin and daughter Aminata

Lamin and daughter Aminata

For Lamin, his first experiences of racism in Wales were on the football pitches around Bangor.

“There were times when I felt like it was really hard because you go and play some places and because I was different, they started making monkey noises,” he said.

“But the way I see it, the noises were made in the heat of the moment. That’s life sometimes.”

He said the atmosphere after the game was different.

“We were going to the pub and the same people who were making those noises on the pitch came over to shake my hand – it was over,” said Lamin.

While studying, Lamin also worked as a security guard in a busy nightclub in the city.

He recalled one night some men were racist towards him, adding: “Suddenly, one was saying ‘go back to your country’. Then they kept saying N-words.”

He hasn’t experienced racism recently, but tries not to dwell on incidents, saying: “I’ll feel racial abuse if I accept it, but if I don’t accept it, it’s nothing to me.”

Lamin and Medwen with sons Leo and Koby

Lamin now works for the Betsi Cadwaldr health board

Medwen and Lamin decided to share their experiences after their friend Ebehitale Igene was racially abused and assaulted at a nightclub in Bangor.

Medwen says racism exists in all languages, adding: “I think if someone is going to be racist, they’re going to be racist if they speak Welsh, English or any other language.”

Since the racist abuse at the Cube nightclub, Ebehitale has suffered from depression and anxiety, and Medwen urged people to consider other people’s feelings before making unkind comments.

Lamin and Medwen

The pair urged people to consider the impact of their comments

“It makes them feel like they’re worthless. They get so down on themselves, then they get depressed. And it’s not fair at all, just because of the color of their skin,” Medwen added.

“I want to see tougher sentences so that people have to serve a certain amount of time in prison and increase the price of the sentence as compensation for victims. We have to show that it is not acceptable.”

Medwen’s daughter Tiah, 17, said young people could also be racist and the problem was not limited to older generations: ‘Boys usually say things and don’t think about what they’re saying.

“They say racist comments, jokes and taunts, thinking they’re funny, but I don’t see the funny side and I tell them straight up.”

The Welsh Government has published its Anti-Racism Action Plan for Wales, which includes measures to tackle racism in schools and communities.

It is part of a plan to make Wales an anti-racist nation by 2030.

If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access information about the help and support available via BBC Action Line.

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