‘I was told that I would be treated differently because of the colour of my skin’

PUBLISHED: 18:00 16 June 2020

Getrude Acheampong, chair of BeMe Stevenage, has spoken about being Black in Stevenage. Picture: Supplied

Getrude Acheampong, chair of BeMe Stevenage, has spoken about being Black in Stevenage. Picture: Supplied

Archant

The chair of a newly formed organisation for Black and ethnic minorities in Stevenage has spoken candidly about her experiences as a Black person both growing up and in the town.

Getrude Acheampong, who runs BeMe (Black Ethnic Minority Empowerment) and Black Women in Business Awards, has been busy working to represent the Black community in Stevenage.

She moved to Stevenage from London 12 years ago, and explained the differences she first encountered in the town.

Getrude said: “Growing up my mother told me that I would be treated very differently because of the colour of my skin.

“When I moved here it was really, really hard. I had come from London where there were lots of Black people.

“I would like to say that Stevenage’s Black community has increased over that time.

“Things have changed a little bit. I think as our population has grown, people have got more comfortable.

“Racism has been part of our society for a long time. It has become conditioned in the mind of people.”

She is passionate about representing the Black community, and supporting them with topics such as education, special needs, mental health and more.

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But Getrude spoke about how her own son, who is just six years old, has experienced discrimination.

“He was accused of doing something at school, that I knew as his mother he would never have done. He was called out and told off in front of everyone in an assembly.

“I was told I would have to pay money towards the damage that was caused, and I had to speak to the school.

“I quickly found out that the accusation was false, and I was fuming. I boil it down to the fact that he was Black.

“I sat down and told my son that I will always support him, no matter what. Because I realise he was picked on because of the colour of his skin.

“I don’t want to have the same conversation my mother had with me with my son.”

Getrude also discussed the role the media has to play when it comes to the representation of Black people.

“I think the media has portrayed so much negativity when it comes to Black people. We have so many Black professionals, doctors, accountants who are doing really well. But their stories aren’t being told in the news.

“That’s something that has to change.

“Whenever there is negativity, we are labelled as the bad ones. This has got to stop because it’s not right.”


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