A YOUNG woman has spoken about her experiences of racism growing up in the Tyne Valley.

20-year-old Amina Mwande explained the prejudices she had faced as a black woman growing up in the area.

Amina said: “Racism is systemic, but you can’t see it here because it’s so much less diverse.

“Even remembering things from middle school and high school, people would throw around racial slurs.

“My hair was quite a big one. I would get my people taking the mickey out of it or putting pencils in it

“People also weren’t willing to get to know you – they judge you on what you look like.

“I remember one lesson where some kids were talking about dressing up like the KKK – and the teacher just let it go. However, my friend, who is white, put the lad in his place.

“It doesn’t matter how many times it happens to you, you’re still shocked when it does.

“One time, I annoyed a lad in my class. He stormed out and said a racial slur. I remember thinking ‘you can’t say that to me.’ I told the teacher and she said ‘are you sure you heard that?’ It makes you second guess yourself.”

Amina said she was also the victim of racial bias when applying for a job. When using her own name, she was rejected – but after changing her name to her middle name with her mother’s maiden name, she was offered an interview.

Her mother, Clare, who manages Hexham Community Centre, spoke of her fears for her daughter’s future.

She said: “It frightens me as a mum to think how much harder my girls have to work to prove themselves against white people.

“We’re going into a massive recession, the worst we’ve ever seen, there’s going to be nothing.

“The Tyne Valley is the same as anywhere else in terms of racism, but the level of denial is high.”

Some of public’s reaction to Hexham’s BLM protest also concerned Amina.

She added: “It was frustrating more than anything. The fact that people can’t see life through somebody else’s eyes.

“It’s frustrating that they’re not willing to learn that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

“I don’t think it should be on black people to educate others. People need to know what’s happening. You can’t just ignore it and pretend it’s not there.

“It’s not just a problem for black people and people of colour to solve. It’s a unified movement. It’s not blacks against whites, it’s everybody against racism.”