It’s 2020 and racism still exists. A common form of racism that is seen today is “systemic racism,” a form of racism that is implemented into society, so that it is normalized. As a black woman, it is expected that racism may occur, but it is never expected to happen to you.
On September 8th, I did not have school, so I planned to go on an adventure with a couple of friends. I was able to sleep in, showered, picked a cute outfit, and then headed out with three other friends. We shopped at a few thrift stores, ate, and then proceeded to go to the mall. At the mall, we visited several stores. I went to Sephora with one friend and my other two friends went to American Eagle. When I arrived at American Eagle I was immediately stopped at the door and I was questioned on why I chose to shop there. I shop frequently, so I know that a person is normally asked what they are shopping for when they are already in the middle of looking throughout the store. I then heard over the mic system that the employee that addressed me immediately referred to me by my skin color to all the other employees. I brushed it off at first, but I noticed that I was being watched while I shopped. All the employees gradually decreased the amount of space they were from me and the female worker in the dressing room got extremely quiet to hear all of my movement. Becoming extremely uncomfortable, I left the clothes I tried on and exited the store.
Shortly after this, we went to one last thrift store across from the mall called Plato’s Closet. I entered the store and found a pair of jeans I liked, so I asked for a fitting room. The lady at the register notified her coworkers to get me a room, but I was looked at and dismissed. After over 5 MINUTES of waiting, I walked away to the other side of the store with my other friends. Soon after looking, we wanted to try on our items, so one of my friends requested a fitting room from the other side of the store. Them being white, they were immediately given the fitting rooms even though the employees were occupied with work. I was not aware that being white fit the components of getting a fitting room immediately upon request. When the shopping trip was over and we checked out, I paid in cash. My total was around 16 dollars and I paid the white cashier with a 20. She then proceeded to lift my bill toward the ceiling to see if it was real. This was humiliating and degrading. I noticed that she never checked anyone else’s bills when checking them out. It was sickening.
I would have never anticipated any of this happening to me– ever. This took a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I talked to my mother and she told me that people that commit acts of racism have not yet educated themselves properly about racism and its consequences. It is important for people to learn about the deep roots of racism in school. The future generations need a new curriculum that teaches the origin of racism and how it can be prevented and to explain how racism is not a part of the human DNA. No one should ever have to experience racism in the future.
Have your own experience with racism that you’d like to share? Use the comments below! Racism is trauma, so share your stories as a means of start the healing process.