In the wake of the anti-racism ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US, Kenyan media personality Julie Gichuru has shared her personal experience with a seemingly racist white guy.
The former Citizen TV news anchor was in college when the encounter happened; she was in a group of four to five friends who had just moved from pre-university at Warwick University to their respective graduate degree courses at the University of Wales College of Cardiff, now Cardiff University.
“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 2 pm, we played on. We were having a ball. There were 4 to 5 of us I believe,” recounted Julie.
She went on: “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 O. from Nigeria. There we were talking, laughing and enjoying a few epic games of pool.”
As they were hanging out, a white guy who had been watching them approached the group and they welcomed him.
“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.”
As they were leaving, the white guy came clean about his misconception that Black people are dirty, lazy and criminals.
Julie recalled: “Then 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.”
The celebrated media personality said they all went quiet as it was rather shocking.
“I felt uncomfortable yet thankful that at least one mind had been opened. But how many others were out there?” posed Julie.
She concluded: “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. 🙏❤”