Coun Ndiweni: racism still exists

Councillors Lachlan Morrison and Nicolle Ndiweni
Councillors Lachlan Morrison and Nicolle Ndiweni

When the Dispatch first published this story online, some readers responded angrily, in the belief that Coun Ndiweni branded Hucknall a racist town.

Coun Ndiweni contacted us to make sure her comments were clarified.

She said: “When approached to do a story about being a young British politician of Zimbabwean descent, I was asked to share my experiences I was happy to talk about the campaign offering comments on both good and the bad as to give a balanced, as well as truthful, insight. We spoke about many things and I was honest about my personal experiences on the campaign trail not only in Hucknall but across Sherwood constituency.

“Racism is a word that shouldn’t be used lightly yet being called the N-word, regardless of context, is unacceptable and regrettably I have had both this, as well as other racially derogatory comments, directed at me on the doorstep more than once. As we know it is always a small minority of people that tarnish it for the many; such incidents were often isolated ones and not in the slightest reflective of the community as a whole. I do not feel that Hucknall is a racist town and it would be unfair to claim that this problem is widespread, but it would be unwise to claim that it isn’t a problem.

“It is quite easy to assume that because an experience isn’t shared it doesn’t exist, but it does. Historically, racism is a lurking demon of a long forgotten past, that still plagues elements of our society. I am in no way claiming that people didn’t vote for me based on the colour of my skin, such a statement would be immature and unbecoming of a councillor, as would the assertion by anyone that I hold that particular point of view.

“People are entitled to their own political opinions as we live in a free society with a variety of viewpoints on a whole range of issues and all of this effects how we vote. As politicians we must compete with one another to put forward the best programme for change, with the electorate then siding with the political party most aligned to their way of thinking; that is democracy.

“However it is also our role as politicians, and more importantly as representatives, to combat those views that are harmful to the very fabric of the society we represent. Yet we cannot tackle such issues if we pretend that they do not exist in the first place, opting rather to brush such unpleasant topics under the carpet and out of sight. Racial discrimination is problem, and sadly still exists.

“I faced my own set of challenges durning the election campaign but despite the small minority of racially biased people I encountered whilst campaigning, I am grateful to the Labour members, supporters and the people of Hucknall who voted. Despite the minority comments throughout the whole campaign, Hucknall, as a town, rose above this minority to elect the first black councillor for Ashfield. I am proud to represent an ever growing and progressive town and will continue to work to the best of my ability to represent the best interests of the people we serve.”