Julie Gichuru

Protests continue over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died when a policeman pinned his knee on Floyd’s neck. A clip of the incident went viral.

In the wake of this, Julie Gichuru has shared her experience with a white student she was schooling with who thought all Africans are criminals.

It was the first week of University, we were in the Games Room (the snooker/pool room and gaming area) at Students Union on Park Place. It was a Sunday afternoon and the busy entertainment spot started to empty out at about 2pm, we played on. We were having a ball. There were 4 to 5 of us I believe. We had all moved from pre-University at Warwick University to our respective graduate degree courses at University of Wales College of Cardiff, now called Cardiff University.

Michelle had been my housemate in pre-Uni law for one year, we were good friends. With us also were our friends & classmates, Terence who was from Singapore (Michelle too).

Ibrahima from Senegal and John . from Nigeria. There we were talking, laughing and enjoying a few epic games of pool.’

The man then approached Julie and her friends.

‘A tall white guy who had been playing with friends at the next table was eventually left on his own.

He seemed to be watching us. Maybe I was imagining it, I thought to myself.

Eventually he came up and asked if he could join us. We happily welcomed him to the group and had a few games together.

After about an hour the room was closing and we all had to leave. We headed out of the Students Union, down the union steps and on to Park Place laughing and in great spirits.’

Unknown to Julie, letting the man into their table had helped him get rid of misconceptions about Africans.

He said, ” I am really happy to have met you all and spent time with you.

This was an eye opener for me… I was brought up to believe that black people are dirty, lazy criminals, but I was so stunned when I heard you talking.

You are so different from what I expected.

Thank you for letting me spend time with you. You have forever changed my perspective.”

We all went quiet. It was rather shocking. I felt uncomfortable yet thankful that at least one mind had been opened. But how many others were out there?

In conclusion Julie added

We bumped into him now and again over the next few years and always shared a smile and a word or two… he was a good guy… but it was a painful reminder that this is a very prejudiced world. Spread some love today. Smile. Reach out and bridge a divide. We all need it