My painting is about my life and feelings in Bristol. I was born in St Pauls and grew up on a white council estate called Southmead. In both communities I learnt that friendship, trust and respect were more important than the skin the covered my flesh and bones. But I faced discrimination, injustice and ignorance from the people with power and influence in Bristol. I have been victimised and harrassed by the police, I have watched my community crumble and decay through local council and political neglect and the local media have either ignored or demonised my face and my home.
The Festival of the Sea held in Bristol in 1996 was an example of how some of the institutions above have failed to understand the people of Bristol. They celebrated Bristol's maritime history and ignored the importance of slavery in Bristol's development as a port.
The centrepiece of this event was the launch of the replica of John Cabot's ship the Matthew. His voyage in 1497 opened the way to the genocide and destruction of Native Americans and their culture. This event, which was encouraged by the Council, funded by big business and hyped out of all proportion by our media, was a slap in the face to the black community and an insult to the intelligence and sensitivity of many Bristolians. It was the weekend that Bristol broke my heart.
I don't want any Bristolian child to have to struggle against what I have been through, whether a black child in St Pauls or a white child on a council estate. It is up to us as adults to stop pursuing our own greed and self-interest and look towards making Bristol a place where all cultures can live in harmony.
Two 8 year old boys from Hannah More School here in Bristol have written some words that show the innocence and feelings of children before they are infected by the dicease of racism.
When you see someone do you see their colour or do you see them?
Whatever their skin, young boys deserve to grow to men.
Whatever your colour black or white, communicate with words, don't fight.
A boy was killed because of his colour at a bus stop.
Why, I hear you cry?
For years this will echo through the sky.
A sad way to die, I cannot stand by.
Please let them grow into men to be part of a caring, peaceful Bristol.