Ottery students describe experiences of racism for video launch of diversity campaign

Sixth-form students Flo Nash, top right, Sandra Sanena, bottom right, Anoo Kakarlamudi, bottom left

Sixth-form students Flo Nash, top right, Sandra Sanena, bottom right, Anoo Kakarlamudi, bottom left and Lizzie Kilbride. Picture: Diversity in Devon - Credit: Archant

Two Ottery students who are originally from Zimbabwe and India are at the forefront of a campaign to encourage debate and understanding of racial diversity.

Sandra Sanena and Anoo Kakarlamudi, both 17, have spoken on video about their personal experiences of living in a mainly white area, for the Diversity in Devon campaign.

They and the two other A-level politics students from The King’s School, Lizzie Kilbride and Flo Nash, are actively encouraging people to give their views on the issues they have raised.

The group also hope to persuade county councillors to support BAME residents in a number of ways, already put forward by Ottery councillor Claire Wright, and due for discussion at the full council meeting in October.

The measures include celebrating the achievements of the Devon BAME community, past and present, and urging the Government to review the school curriculum to reflect the history of slavery and other oppression in the British Empire.

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Sandra Sanena’s family moved to Ottery St Mary from Zimbabwe when she was eight, while Anoo Kakarlamudi’s family came over when she was 18 months old. They lived in Southampton until she was 11 and then moved to Ottery.

Both say they have experienced racism in the community.

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In her video, Sandra says racism is ‘quite clearly there’ and people who say otherwise ‘have the privilege of not noticing it’.

The campaign began when she sent an email to Cllr Wright, soon after the death of George Floyd in the US, which sparked protests around the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Her message referred to the ‘level of ignorance’ in some people that she had noticed growing up black in Devon, and said: “What I am asking for above all else is that the black community is given a voice and that we eradicate ignorance as it is what leads to racist incidents, which can happen at any age and with anyone.”

The campaign plan includes the regular release of a series of memes with statistics and data on aspects of racism, facts on inequality and a debate on the term ‘white privilege’ which they feel is often misunderstood.

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