A Swansea student is speaking out about her own experiences of racism to help ensure Wales becomes a better place to live.
Nineteen-year-old Saadia Abubaker is a community consultant for the Welsh Government’s new Race Equality Action Plan (REAP) for Wales which is currently being drafted.
She is passionate about not only having her say in how the new plan develops but also ensuring as many diverse opinions as possible are considered.
She said: “I feel my age is a superpower and so is my skin colour. It has been so rewarding to have this opportunity, it has given me a real sense of purpose.”
The former Gower College Swansea student says lockdown and the murder of George Floyd acted as catalysts and provided the incentive to get involved.
“I was stuck at home and for the first time ever I had spare time. I wanted to find ways to keep myself busy.
“For me, as for many people, the murder of George Floyd was a wake-up call, and it started a fire inside me. I came to realise that action was needed to make change happen.”
So Saadia applied to take part in a peer research project investigating the direct and indirect racism experienced by young people in education.
“This project further emphasised the need to change how society portrayed and treated people from different backgrounds. By the end of the project there was a full blazing fire inside me and I started to speak on panels and at webinar events.”
She then spotted the opportunity to become a community consultant for the REAP.
“It involves sharing experiences of racial inequality and feeding back what needs to be implemented to achieve the goal of making Wales an anti-racist country by 2030.
“My main concern was that young people like myself would not be represented and their stories and their insights would not be heard. The collaboration involved in putting this plan together is helping to ensure they are heard.”
She added: “Studying sociology and psychology at Swansea this year has been great as some of the modules gave me the opportunity to learn more about racial inequalities, strengthening my knowledge so I can apply it in my role.”
Thanks to senior social sciences lecturer Dr Mike Ward, Saadia was also able to interview Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna, from Cardiff University, who co-chairs the REAP, for her Saadia Speaks podcast.
She said: “I’m extremely grateful to have tutors like Dr Ward supporting me with this project.”
Dr Ward described Saadia as inspirational for her dedication to promoting greater diversity and equality.
He said: “Saadia’s energy and passion for social justice is infectious, in all my years of teaching sociology, I don’t think I have felt as hopeful for change, as when I speak with Saadia.”
A public consultation on the REAP will continue until July 15 and it is not too late to have your say.
Saadia added: “We would love to hear from more people, which is why I’ve created information packs to make it easier for young people like myself to respond to the consultation.”