I had always known that there is racism, but it was an issue that did not affect me personally. This innocence continued until I lived in other countries. Man, were things different and was I shocked!
I will share one story where I was targeted. I wanted to buy a particular pair of pants and I went to the store that sold the pants in Washington, DC. There was a black security guard standing outside the store and as I walked in, I noticed that he had started following me. I looked around and there were only white customers in the store.
I had experienced this before but wanted to make sure that I was not being paranoid, so I took several unexpected turns around the store. The guard was right behind me at every turn and I concluded that he thought I would steal something. I noted that the white customers were free to roam around the store without being followed.
I left the store hurt, not just because of what had happened, but more so because he was a black person suspecting me, a fellow black. What if a white customer had noticed this? Would she have not come to the conclusion that blacks were indeed thieves if they could not trust each other?
There are other stories I could share, but suffice it to say that racism hurts, racism is humiliating and racism is an all round destroyer. I am not a thief or any sort of criminal so why was I targeted, especially by a fellow black?
I got to thinking as why the guard had targeted me and the following questions came up me:
a) Was it store policy to targeted blacks?
b) Did the guard have experience in blacks being thieves in comparison to whites?
c) Did I look as if I could not afford products from the shop?
d) Did I look like a thief?
e) Did the guard follow a system of shadowing a random person coming into the store and I happened to be the one at that particular time?
I have been targeted many times before because of my race (and I know this will happen again) and so I wonder how it feels to be part of a race that is ‘above’ suspicion. I could have confronted the guard but I decided to walk away and take my hard earned money elsewhere.
Have you been discriminated against before because of your race? What did you do in the circumstances?