I think I am very ‘lucky’ to have never suffered anything like this in London before. Sure there have been small incidents and comments before but with Brexit and the rise and rise of intolerance, being racist in public is no longer taboo. Of corse no one should ever have to suffer any sort of abuse ever and luck should have nothing to do with it.
As nothing that overtly abusive had ever happened to me before, my imagined reaction was always to stand my ground and fight. Shout abuse back at them (as if that would ever help the situation) and make sure they know that I have not given them permission to talk to me about this.
But in real life when the angry white man is over six foot and I am just over five, everything is very different. At first I was amazed that this was happening. Genuinely what the fuck? Then I became angry: how DARE he talk to me like that? Then when nothing I said (‘I have done nothing to you, how dare you abuse me?’) made him stop, I pulled out my phone and started filming it.
By then people had gathered because his racist vitriol was so viscous. The racist bully saw that I was filming everything he was saying and started approaching me. If people hadn’t intervened and stopped him, I know one-hundred-percent that he would have hit me. He was angry and fucked up enough to do just that. And then there was me shouting, ‘so are you going to hit me,’ as he came closer and closer. A stranger, someone I will always be grateful to, held me back while someone else stopped the man from getting any closer.
The man left soon after and all the adrenaline and shock made me burst into tears. All I kept thinking was how could something like this happen to me, in my beloved London? Things like this – racist, homophobic, sexist attacks – aren’t supposed to happen in multicultural cities like London.
And then I realised how stupid it was for me to think like that. The city isn’t immune to what’s happening in the world or the language our politicians use. People like to blame others for their own crappy lives and as he blamed me for taking his job (with a lot more swearing) and that I should suck someone’s cock because I’m a whore (I can’t remember whose cock he wanted me to suck – his??) I wanted to do nothing more than kick him in the face.
When the police came they told me that I would have been well within my rights to do that.
But I’m glad I didn’t. Me standing there and sticking up for myself, filming it, and refusing to walk away from this was all the bravery I had. In that moment I wasn’t scared but looking back, the whole situation was terrifying. That man was going to HIT ME. And even then my flight or fight response was to fight (sometimes imagination is right!) When I told my parents what happened my dad’s reaction was to tell me he’s very proud of me but that next time I should run away – I had to laugh at that. I hope very much there isn’t a next time and if there ever is I am once again surrounded by people who are on my side.
A couple of days later I was still very teary. I received a text message from Victim Support, I had a police case number. It all really got to me. Now, just under a week has passed and I have come to terms with it. I no longer feel angry but more weary and I am definitely more on guard. I feel as if people are constantly looking at my skin colour and making snap decisions on whether they are going to abuse me or not.
I have also realised that I shouldn’t think ‘this shouldn’t happen to people like me,’ but that I should be thinking ‘this shouldn’t happen.’ I HATE that I am now a victim but that’s exactly what I am because this man decided that he is better than me because he’s white. I hate him for what he did to me and how he made me feel. More than anything I want to stop feeling like a victim and that will take a little more time.