Dianna Djokey shares why she’s reporting on the impact of Covid-19 on people of colour (POC), migrants, and asylum seekers and refugees in Portsmouth.
Connection and togetherness seem more important to me during the current pandemic. I think as a society, we have become more selfish and self-focused, but Covid-19 has showed us how weak and shallow that idea is in practice.
Identifying as a black person, moving from America when I was a child and living in the UK for the majority of my life, I understand what a person has to go through to be considered a British Citizen. Having gone through the tedious process, I have a distinctive understanding of how difficult it is to build a life for yourself and to have full access to what the UK has to offer in order to meet my maximum potential in my life, education and career. When I received my British citizenship in October 2018, I was elated that I finally got to vote in the national elections for the very first time in 2019.
I have family members who have been affected by Covid-19 (both here in the UK and in the US), either by contracting the virus or being made unemployed as a result of it. My grandmother, who was born and raised in Jamaica and migrated to America in the late ’80s, contracted Covid-19 in early May. I told her to go to the doctor and she told me over the phone, ‘Doctors are killing black people in the hospital and not treating them well. I will not go for them to kill me.’ So she stayed home shielding herself until she recovered.
I believe it’s vitally important that we try to capture how people in Portsmouth are coping during the pandemic and how it affects different community groups. In my co-reporting with Paris Ali-Pilling, which you can find out more about here, I will be exploring how Covid-19 has impacted on migrants and asylum seekers and refugees.
At the same time, I will be interviewing local people and organisations as a Community Reporter interested in how black, brown and POC families and individuals in and around Portsmouth have had to adapt to the environment we are now in. I am also particularly interested in finding out about the impact of the pandemic on young people, artists and creatives, and carers and nurses.
I think Covid-19 – like many trials and tribulations – comes with good and bad impacts. It’s been wonderful seeing how people are volunteering, and how grassroots community groups have jumped into serving local people, exemplifying the true definition of community. But on the flip side, Covid-19 has disproportionately hurt people of colour, not only in terms of the numbers suffering from the virus, but financially, economically and emotionally. By talking directly to those affected, as well as the groups and organisations that represent them, I want to shed light on the reality of the pandemic for people of colour, migrants, and asylum seekers and refugees.
The Black Lives Matter movement exploded onto our screens and streets at the same time as Covid-19, often I think in the most polarising way. Though some question its relevance and what BLM wants to achieve, I appreciate what it’s aiming to do.
When future generations look back at this moment in time, I believe it won’t be the government or council politicians we remember with the most gratitude, but the local people, and community services that went far beyond the line of duty for the communities that were affected the most.
By telling the lived stories of local people, we want to move beyond the statistics and numbers. Having worked with Star & Crescent since its conception, it’s a pleasure to be working with a local news site committed to providing a platform for the missing stories of marginalised communities.
Want to get involved?
I would like to interview local people of colour, migrants, and asylum seekers and refugees in Portsmouth, and the organisations and groups who support them. If you would like to share your experiences, or represent a group or organisation like this, please get in touch with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story and experiences will be treated with respect and if needed, will be published anonymously.
S&C has been awarded funding from the European Journalism Centre Covid-19 Support Fund to explore the social impact of Covid-19 on diverse communities and sectors in Portsmouth:
- voluntary sector, including charities, community groups and social enterprises
- small businesses and self-employed people
- BAME communities
We have also been awarded funding from the Public Interest News Foundation Emergency Fund to explore the social impact of Covid-19 on migrants, and asylum seekers and refugees.
Image by Sarah Cheverton.