Timi Ariyo and Tami Sotire were sent racist materials by a group of white students from their former secondary school in Essex and a fellow university student through social media, such as Snapchat and Whatsapp.
Sotire, a second-year psychology student, said she was initially scared to report these abuses in case they would retaliate and “become more angry”.
“It’s about 10 to 15 boys that we can bump into at any time,” she said.
“I just fear that this group of white boys will become more angry at black people, more angry at me – especially if I take it to the police,” Sotire added.
But they have had enough.
“In light of the response we’ve had from friends and family, and people that we don’t even know, a lot of people have urged us to go to the police,” said Ariyo.
“And speaking to my family we’ve said it’s probably the best thing to do to get it on record, just for safety as well.”
Uni students Timi Ariyo & Tami Sotire came to tell Points West & Radio 2 about racist cyber-bullying they've suffered pic.twitter.com/f323R8zNfl
— Anthony Ward (@Anth0ny_Ward) January 24, 2017
Ariyo and Sotire will be meeting the university and the police to this end.
The university said it was “shocked and saddened” and would have “investigated immediately” had staff been informed. It urged students to report abuse.
“From the public support, I know that these people are in the minority and should really be brought to justice for the stuff they’ve put us through,” said Sotire.
‘… it still happened in 2017’
Last December, a group of white men posted a video in which they sang “Timi Ariyo, he swings where he wants” followed by ‘monkey chants’. It was sent to him via Snapchat.
According to The Tab, Ariyo was also called “monkey related names” on Twitter by another group, such as “Bobo”, “Bubbles”, and “Shit Flinger”. They also added him to a Whatsapp group and sent him pictures of a monkey-like Pokémon, Mankey.
Ariyo, a 21-year-old third-year law student said: “It was quite shocking when I first saw the video, obviously they are people that I know.
“And it was weird to see that it was happening in such a public place – they were so passionately chanting such a racist thing.”
For Sotire, racist materials were sent to her since last April.
“Me and Timi made the effort to… block them, delete them off everything. But they continued to target us with Snapchat, add me to Whatsapp groups.
“People have taken it upon themselves to bully me and Timi based on our skin colour. They don’t even know us.”
Ariyo called the video a “pack mentality”, in the belief that no individual could be singled out for taking part.
“I think it got to a point where it was becoming malicious and offensive and that’s when I realised it wasn’t my friends making a joke, it was people targeting and being nasty,” he said.
“So many of my friends saw the video and were like ‘wow I’ve never seen anything like that, I didn’t know it still happened in 2017’ – and it does,” he said.