What It's Like To Be the Problem

In light of the recent racial attacks in America I thought this would be a good opportunity to pen my own experiences of racism. 

Rosa Parks once said “racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet and hopefully we shall overcome.”

In September 2015 I packed my bags and prepared myself for my year abroad, I was moving to Zaragoza, a small town in Spain between Madrid and Barcelona.  Having lived my entire life in London, perhaps the most cosmopolitan city in the world, throughout my life I have experiences little to no racism.  I noticed in Zaragoza that I was getting strange looks and people were freely using the word “n**ger”.  Slowly but surely, every stare, every whisper made it apparent; I was the problem. 

In the cafeteria at my halls of residence, a boy who had been asking for my number sat on a table opposite me with his friends.  They began to throw pieces of food at me.  It started small but then half a baguette hit my face.  I stood up in an attempt to confront his childish behavior. As I rose from my chair, one boy said “f**k the n**ger”.  I stood there stunned, thinking that this could not be real.  Then a cacophony of voices proceeded to chant “f**k the n**ger”.  As I walked to the door the ring leader of the group attempted to throw a metal jug at me.  He missed. 

My two friends and I asked the security to help us with this incident as racial abuse in this day and age categorically unacceptable.  I assumed that the boys would be reprimanded in some way but in fact I was the one who was reprimanded.  The head of security told me that these boys were good kids and I had no reason to be upset.  As tears trickled down my cheek the same man told my friends that if I needed to calm down he could take me to hospital. Needless to say I moved out of this residence immediately.

Although this happened almost a year ago, the pain really hasn’t left my system.  I became transfixed on being fixed and it was the beginning of a plummet in my self confidence.  I was left completely humiliated for merely having a different complexion. 

Photographer: Andrew Chang @andychang__photo
Model: Lollie King