In the wake of this week's Black Lives Matter rally, which saw 2,000 people take to the streets of Belfast to protest over the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, black people from across Northern Ireland who attended have been telling their own stories of racial abuse.
They speak of verbal abuse in playgrounds as children, brutal physical attacks as adults, homes sprayed with graffiti and property vandalised and being afraid of letting their young children play in the street in case they are subjected to racist abuse.
Queen's University Belfast student Angel Arutura (20) lives in Ballygowan, Co Down, with her parents, Cuthbert and Lisa, and two sisters. She says she has suffered racial abuse and exclusion since she was a little girl.
"I went to school in Belfast," says Angel. "I have experienced racial abuse, everyday racism and racism that maybe is a little harder to identify. One of my earliest memories, in fact, is when my sister and I were in the playground in school - we were only small - and we asked some other children could we play with them, too. And one of the girls said, 'No, we don't play with black girls'.
"Throughout my life, it's mostly been comments like that. Whenever I was in school, the 'n'-word was just thrown about like it was nothing. And I would feel so uncomfortable to be the only black girl in the whole room, listening to this. It felt like I couldn't speak up and, even when I did, it was everyone going against me, saying the person who said the 'n'-word didn't mean it in an offensive way, or I had taken it the wrong way. There was definitely a divide in school, where I never really felt like I belonged."
Angel says that she feels racism is prevalent in Northern Ireland. "Over the past week, since the George Floyd incident, it is crazy the amount of closet racists that have come out, even on social media. It is so overwhelming to see. It is prevalent now. There is a huge racist problem in Northern Ireland.
"People think, 'Why are you talking about this? This doesn't concern us.' I've heard people say to go back to our own countries if we are so oppressed here. I have been trying to blank it out and dedicate myself to educating others in speaking out. I have experienced racism my whole life, but it's only now that I feel comfortable about speaking out."
Angel, who was pictured at the Black Lives Matters rally in Belfast, says she was overcome with emotion when her father, Cuthbert, took the microphone and spoke of his experiences.
Cuthbert Arutura, a musician who owns the Artfrique-records label, says he has been brutally attacked himself and had his house and car attacked since arriving here from Zimbabwe 27 years ago.
"I came to Northern Ireland from Zimbabwe in 1993," says Cuthbert.
"I was met with a mixed bag," the 46-year-old adds.
"There was inquisitive ignorance and blatant outright ignorance, racist attacks, physical attacks, graffiti, vandalism, verbal abuse and exclusion.
"One incident that comes to mind was when we were in a takeaway in Donegall Square in Belfast.
"It was around 1.30am and we were jusy coming from a club and we went in to get something to eat.
"This group of white boys came over and started hurling abuse at us.
"We stayed in the restaurant. I had to go and get my wallet from my car outside and they attacked me."
He continues: "I ran and got into the car and they came and smashed the car windows.
"They were shouting at me to get out of their country and get back to Africa. I was hurt in the incident. We actually had to be escorted by police to the station.
“There were numerous times after that. We lived in east Belfast and they came and they sprayed graffiti on our wall. It said ‘n****rs go home to Africa’, ‘monkeys’ — that type of thing. They also slashed our car tyres. We had to move house.”
Cuthbert says that he worries for his children and he felt that he had to speak up about racism at the Black Lives Matter protest.
“We were afraid for our children growing up and we still are,” he says. “They have all experienced their fair share of racism from an early age. We just hope that their mother and I have equipped them with the skills to cope, handle and deal with it.
“I spoke at the Black Lives Matters protest, because seeing what happened to George Floyd just made my stomach turn. I had been getting to a point in my life where I’m tired of trying to integrate because, I seem to be the one doing all the hard work and these guys just completely disregard me and treat me like a non-existent, with indifference.
“I feel like the people I am trying to integrate with don’t want me to integrate. I have 27 years here in Northern Ireland and I have seen it all.”
Nigeria-born Adekanmi Abayomi (40) lives in south Belfast with his wife and three young children.
The volunteer with Ethnic Minority Sports in Northern Ireland says he has suffered abuse and attacks since he came here in 2013.
“I have lived in Northern Ireland for seven years,” says Adekanmi. “I was born in Nigeria. Living in Belfast, I have definitely experienced racial abuse and attacks. I have been walking down the street and someone has thrown eggs at me, people have called me all sorts of names, shouting at me that I need to go back to my own country. We have to be conscious of our environment and not respond to these attacks, so as not to escalate things.
“It makes me feel less of myself when things like this happen. It prompts me to ask questions of myself; if I am actually in the right place. Are you actually a human being? Are you out of this community? It has brought out questions like, ‘Why would someone do that to another human being? Are they are telling me to go back to my own country because I don’t belong here?”
Adekanmi says that it has reached a point that he is afraid to let his children — aged six, five and three — out to play. “Of course, I worry about my children. I keep my children mostly indoors. They need to be prepared. I take them to school and bring them straight back home again. I find it difficult to allow my children to mix with other children, because I don’t know how any comments would affect them, affect their psyche and mental states.
“I prefer to keep them indoor and create activities indoors, because I don’t want them to have access to all those nasty words. It’s a bad reflection of society.”
Hollywood portrait and fashion photographer Macy Stewart (20) says she, too, had her first experience of racism in the playground.
“I grew up in Hollywood,” she says. “And with regards my experiences with racial issues, I don’t know where to start. My mum, Hayley, is from Northern Ireland and she’s white. My dad, Dennis, was Jamaican and black. He passed away three years ago.
“Primary school was really rough. It started off with one boy in particular making my life hell. I remember being seven or eight, walking across the playground and he walked past and shouted ‘black b****’ at me. I remember running home, crying, telling my mum, who moved to deal with it. The reaction from those in authority was always, ‘Kids don’t see colour, how could they be racist?’ It was never dealt with. Kids do see colour — that’s why he labelled me as a ‘black b****’. “I think I was the only black person in my year and there would have been around 60 children. As I became a teenager, it just got progressively worse. That’s when kids are aware of what they can say and what they can get away with. And that included adults.
“I remember in school someone trying to explain that his granny, who was in hospital, didn’t want to be treated by a black nurse, or doctor. He was describing this experience and pointed straight at me and said, ‘I don’t want to be treated by that blackie’.
“As a black person walking into a room, eyes are going to be straight on you, because it’s just so foreign to some people. That one time all eyes were on me. My friends didn’t know how to act and I just froze.”
She says racism has been “normalised” in Northern Ireland.
“People need to have these types of conversations,” she says. “Your granny might be racist, but you don’t need to be. You can educate yourself. There have been a couple of times I was racially abused, especially in the last few years, when I would have been old enough to go on nights out.
“I remember when I was 18 years old and I was walking in Donegall Place in Belfast with two friends. There was a group of people at the bus stop and they started shouting, ‘N*****! N*****! N*****!’ at me as I walked past. That is verbal abuse, but then you are actually petrified that it might turn physical. And that’s why my two friends, who are white, stood in front of me. It was terrifying.
“It does scare you being on your own and being out. And that goes for any place, really. I feel constantly on my guard.”
She says she went to the Black Lives Matters protest because she felt “six-year-old me would be proud of what we did, because we didn’t see that growing up”.
“We have had our great-grandfathers do this, grandfathers and fathers do this. We have done this. Our children shouldn’t have to do it.
“I want to know that, if I have a black child, they will be able to walk out of the door confidently, to know they won't be yanked by the hair, given nothing but verbal abuse, not only by their peers, but adults, also, not to be denied protection by those whose job it is to protect them.”