I´m born in Sweden and I would describe myself as a dreamer, kind and someone who is always full of new ideas. In my spare time I often try to think of new ways to improve people’s lives and reflect upon how I can be of of benefit to others.
I can’t remember being discriminated against, maybe that´s because I have a very narrow understanding of what discrimination is.
But I have come across people who have very little knowledge about african people and Africa.
One summer I was working at a hospital and I remember one day where I was seeing a patient with my mentor. So my mentor or tutor asked this patient about her health and the patient proceeded to talk about her illness, I already knew about this illness but didn’t want to interrupt her. She (the patient) suddenly turns to me and says:
– But I think you already know about this illness where you live.
Apparently she taught I didn’t live in Sweden and my folks “back home” all have stomi (surgery done after a bowel disease).
So after me and my mentor were done listening to this patient’s story my mentor pats me on my shoulder and says:
– Just ignore that.
At that moment I could´nt get what was wrong but thinking about it now it makes me frustrated and angry over how this lady could get away with such ignorance and I´m even more angry at my mentor who just seemed to accept the patient’s comment and just taught I should just let it go because it´s not “a big deal”.
When was in 7,8 and 9 grade I went to a school located in a very white area. One day I went with my friend to a store nearby to buy and out of the blue some random guys riding on a bicycle says “negro”. I couldn’t believe what I heard so I just told myself I didn’t hear anything. I was walking slow so my friend was way ahead of me and she didn’t hear anything. At the end of 9th grade I had a new math teacher, one day at class he told a story and he said the n-word.
At a another occasion he (math teacher) was doing a tourguide around my city for us students and then at one particular place he explained the historical background about one statue, repeatedly when he was explaining this he used the n-word. I felt vey upset and told my teacher who was also there and she called my math teacher, he stated to defend his actions by saying he had the right to say the n-word because of the context he was explaining. Whereas I felt that no matter what the word should not be used because of how much it hurts black people, but I didn´t explain how I felt because I didn’t want to seem too angry and on top of that I had bad grades in math and therefore (what I felt then) had to let it go.
I often also feel I´m racially profiled at some stores, especially makeup stores. One day me and my friend went in to this cosmetics boutique and wanted to try on some colorful lipsticks. As soon as I went in I could see the cashiers looking at me and almost following me around. I tried to ignore it and try to tell myself how I´m just making my mind up.
I tried some lipstick on and wanted to take it off so I started to search for some baby wipes and found one unboxed. I asked my friend if should I open this and she said yes, I did and picked one out and put the box back.
We went to a another stand to look for other lipsticks and suddenly a women behind me said:
“you have to buy this”
I said “what?”she responded “you have to buy this because you opened up”
I then explained and said “I didn’t know I was not allowed to open it, I´m so sorry” she then forced me to buy it and actually I didn’t have my wallet with me so I explained and said:
“I don´t have any money, but could you put my name on it so I can come back and buy it”
The women was angry and I totally understand that I did wrong but for, what felt like, 2 minutes we just stood there arguing over how I could´nt buy it because I didn´t have money and even though I offered to come back. She then suddenly said “this time I will let it go but next time you have to buy it”. I told her I understand and apologized for what I think was the fifth time.
Me and my friend was on a such a bad mood after it and just left the store because the cashier was staring us out and talking behind our back with her colleague. We discussed it on our way home on the bus and both saw how she was following us around and it almost felt like she wanted us to do something wrong for her to blow it up. I from now on just try to order my makeup on the web or only go to stores where I’m comfortable.
At a another occasion me and my friend was falsely accused of getting on the bus without paying and we had to explain ourselves even though we paid while she (busdriver) was busy talking to another passenger.
I always wish I could´ve been more open about how I feel and I would like to think that if I was to be in same situation I would go up to the person and tell them how ignorant they are.
I wish people around me would step up and help me instead off brushing it off and tell me “just let it go”.
I also always feel like I have to check my surroundings because of the color of my skin and they way I dress, I feel very anxious when I’m in public and try my best to be at safe places. I think it’s the fear that at anytime I can become a victim of racism.
My biggest lesson has been to never feel like racism is my fault and never blame myself for other people’s ignorance.