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They made me question my identity

"One of my most prominent memories of experiencing racism was when I was twelve years old. I was walking home from school. I`m not saying that this was the first nor the last time, but this specific experience haunts me even today. I believe things that are thrown at you at this age hit deeper and stick longer.

 It was a rainy day and I was walking beside my best friend; we were gossiping about everything that had happened at school that day and - of course - about the older, handsome skater boys. Then suddenly from afar, we heard some strange sounds. We quickly discovered there was someone imitating monkey sounds.  At first, we found ourselves in a “what the fuck” moment. We turned around and, to our surprise, the skater boys we had just giggled about were walking behind us. They looked straight at me, laughing as they joined their friends’ monkey screams. As they continued shouting, we got more and more uncomfortable. We automatically walked faster as the yelling became louder and more aggressive. When I finally got home that day, I felt harassed, hurt. So very hurt. 

Imagine being twelve years old and getting bullied by the boys you tried to impress. Not the flirtatious, teasy way we all find cute, but the racist way; comparing me to a fucking monkey. Coming from a small town, it was hard to distance myself from these attitudes and beliefs. I was surrounded by people who were making me question my identity based on the color of my skin - making me feel ashamed and less worthy. For people still wondering if racism and white privilege still exist: the answer is yes. I often find myself in situations where the exact same feelings I got when I heard the monkey sounds build up inside me. I am still occasionally being referred to with the N-word or other racial slurs to describe the way I look; both with the intention to hurt me and in the ‘casual’, almost careless way that is so horribly misused. At 15, even my best friend convinced me that the reason I didn’t get attention from boys I liked is because of my “exotic” appearance - ”not many boys like that.”.

I believe that everything that is happening these days, all over the world, is necessary for illuminating and preventing the kind of racism I, and so many other black people, keep experiencing. With all the love, support, and information people are sharing now, I really feel that this can change. It has to change."

- Amalie, Norway

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