Anne Thorn and Kelly-Anne Searyoh come from two different generations and cultures and the only thing they have in common is they are studying for a degree in Journalism at Falmouth University.
Anne, 61, is from a white middle-class background and grew up in East London. Kelly-Anne, 20, is Ghanaian; born in London but raised in Ghana up to the age of 17.
A chance discussion one day in class led them to want to investigate why there aren’t more ethnic minorities in Cornwall and what it was like for black students living in Cornwall. They asked Rose Lartey and Grace Juleff.
Anne said: “When I moved to Cornwall 6 years ago, I couldn’t fail to notice that you hardly ever saw a black person.”
Kelly said: “I never thought of myself as black until I came to Cornwall, in Ghana people don’t identify themselves by the colour of their skin.”
According to the 2011 census, only 1.8% of the population of Cornwall identifies in a non-white ethnic group, and only 762 out of 532,273 identified as black/African/Caribbean or black British.
Kelly-Anne describes her experience of coming to Cornwall.
“I lived in Ghana for most of my life so far, I did come to the UK, more specifically to London for summer and Christmas holidays and seeing London flaunt its diversity on display, I never bothered to question anywhere else.
“I assumed if not the same elsewhere, it’ll be decent. I even remember joking with a friend about the surprised feeling I get when I see another black person walking in the streets of Falmouth (I also got shockingly excited, no kidding, a shot of adrenaline would rush through me once I saw a black person I didn’t know, walking around. Sometimes to the point I’d wanted to walk up and introduce myself to them to see if we could just have a chat). Ridiculous isn’t it?”
It is quite telling that when you visit the website for the Council for Racial Equality in Cornwall it is evident that it hasn’t been updated since 2014? How can the only potential key source of information for this investigation not be up to date? It may go some way to explaining why there not many people of ethnic minorities in Cornwall. A contact request was sent to the website but no reply has been received.
Cornwall has historically been a white dominated part of England and continues to be. The 2011 census revealed that 98.2% of the population was white even though the non-white ethnic group had increased by 4,000 since the 2001 census totalling at 9,425. This raises questions as to whether this impacts the way people associate with people of such ethnic minorities? Specifically, can a Cornish person be “racist” towards a black person as a result of there not being enough black people or enough of other ethnic minorities in Cornwall?
“I’d say prejudice as supposed to racism. I see racism as a conscious outlook on someone else’s race as inferior to yours. So, I don’t think that’s what is going on here. I think it’s prejudice here.
“People not really knowing how to interact with people that aren’t white because that’s what they’ve just been used to,” says Bella Frimpong who is from both Italy and Ghana and studies at University of Exeter in Cornwall.
Even though Cornwall has people in the minorities residing in the county, it will continue to boast a growth in the kinds of people it attracts. The universities based in Cornwall invite people from all over the world and in that sense, diversity will dominate.
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