Paul Sewell. Black Lives Matter from Salford

Revista Nueva Realidad(RNR): Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Paul Sewell(PS): I was born in Salford which is a separate city just next to Manchester. I am 36 years old and I’ve lived in the UK all my life, unfortunately! I come from a typical working class northern English background but my grandparents and my father were very left wing, Socialists. I would describe it as sort of a socialist upbringing.

RNR: How do you remember your childhood in Salford?

PS: Very well actually, my mum was a single parent so my grandparents were helping me out. I was happy you know, we weren´t rich, I had a typical happy working class upbringing. I never wanted for anything, I was playing music and stuff like that, I spent a lot of time with family, family is very important.

RNR: Do your family practise any religion? 

PS : Oh no. My mum is technically a Protestant and my Dad technically Roman Catholic, but neither really go to church so I’ve never really been a churchgoer.  I went to a church school. It’s quite common in the UK for the primary schools to be church schools so, I did go to a church school, singing hymns and stuff but I never really believed in any of it. I was pretty much an atheist.

RNR: What did you study?

PS: I studied at University of Salford, music technology and sound. I used to do radio in Salford. Salford started its own radio station in 2008, I think. It is called Salford city radio 94.4 FM. I did a show on there for eight years. I was in a band at the time and our radio show was on a Sunday afternoon, 3 hours so, quite often I would have a gig on the Saturday and would be a bit rough on the Sunday so, after 8 years of doing the show I stopped doing this, which I kind of regret. 

 RNR: What is your opinion about how Manchester was before in how is now? do you think is better now?

PS:  Yeah, I mean when I was growing up Manchester was a very different city. There was nowhere near the amount of re-generation that there is now. I remember it being quite dirty in the 80s and 90’s. There was a lot of derelict buildings and crumbling warehouses. If you walk around Ancoats today it’s nothing like it was when I was a kid, all the Mills were falling down and now it’s all been regenerated, a lot money put into it but I think it’s better now. Since a lot of different countries joined the EU and were granted free movement of people we got a massive influx of people over the last 20 years, which I think has made the country a much more vibrant place, especially Manchester. I mentioned that due to a lot of investment over the last 20 years or so, it looks so much prettier but I do think that there is a massive gap of inequality that has been growing over the last 10 years or so 15 years or so. It seems that as the city gets nicer, the gap gets bigger. 

RNR:  Do you think that now there are more migrants than before? 

PS: I think it’s probably more over the last 15 years. I mean Salford and Manchester has always been pretty multicultural as far back as sort of 50’s and even before that. I mean we had Salford docks and people coming to Salford from all over the world, so, we’ve had immigrants here since 1800’s. We had a tribe of Indians called the Salford Sioux Indians who fought at the battle of Little Big Horn who stayed in Salford. They came here with the Buffalo Bill travelling circus event and liked it that much that they ended up staying here and marrying in to the community, so, there’s people walking around Salford around from with Native American blood in them! Yeah so, it’s always been a very much cultural place but I think over the last 10 or 15 years the influx of immigrants has made the city and the country, a much more vibrant and exciting place.  

RNR: What do you think about Black Lives Matter Movement?

 I think it was good thing, BLM.  I think it brought awareness of these issues. So many people just didn’t get it all, which is a bit sad but at least it brought awareness, you know? Where I’m from is quite a white, working class area so, I’ve got people I know from school on social media and you see them spouting nonsense, and it absolute nonsense. Baseless claims about immigration and desperately trying to belittle the movement. Marcus Rashford, for example, this young black footballer from Wythenshawe, who grew up not being fed during school breaks. His family were very poor so, he had to get fed at school during holidays as his family couldn’t afford to feed him. Now look at him. He is one of the best players in the country, on a lot of money, who’s now single handedly fighting the government because of this morally bankrupt government refusing to pay for poorer kids school meals again over the Holidays. So, I just want to say, well done Marcus Rashford, because he’s taking on this sorry excuse of a Prime Minister. Look at all the stick Rashford gets for trying to help hungry kids! Sometimes I can’t help but feel some of the ire directed at him is a race thing. Very sad. 

RNR: For example, related with those people that you have been seeing on Facebook, what is your perception of why they consider Black Lives Matter a movement that is not important to them? 

PS: I think the older, white people get scared of young black men for some reason. Boomer types from affluent areas. I don’t know what it is that scares them but it seems to be that they are very afraid of this movement. I don’t really understand it at all. They are always trying to belittle the good work that’s being done. Accusing people of ‘virtue signalling’ and repeatedly saying ‘all lives matter’. 

RNR: Would you find an element of racism in those comments?

PS:  Yeah, absolutely. Inherent racism and to some degree sometimes a lack of understanding. Sometimes a bit of both. It can be a lack of education also. This obviously needs addressing in society. 

RNR: What would you say, for example, about the evolution of racism in this city? Trying to understand the fact that those people react against this BLM movement…

PS:  I wouldn’t say Manchester is racist. There are racists everywhere, in every place, in every city, but generally speaking Manchester has always been not like that, and I still think for certain it is not like that. But then there are few more dotted about because they’ve been given some form of legitimacy by Brexit, by Boris Johnson, by these people in power, by the way things are going you know, fascist views are being more easily integrated and accepted in society so, that is happening but at the same time I still think Manchester will always be a left wing city. 

RNR: Have you been protesting with the Black Lives Matter movement?

PS: I didn’t go to the Manchester protest, because at the time it was full lockdown and the peak of the pandemic, which I was a bit paranoid about so didn’t really want to be around lots of other people. But, from what I saw in video footage, everyone was well behaved, peaceful and people were socially distant.

RNR: So, would you go in a protest since now on?

PS: Yeah, definitely. I was at one with my partner last weekend, the People’s Assembly. It turned out well and personally I feel less paranoid about being in big groups of people now than I did a few months ago. 

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