I am writing this email regarding an unfortunate incident that happened to my friend and myself. I was a victim of blatant racism, with racial slurs actually being said to my face. It really surprised and hurt me when I experienced it first-hand. The following is the incident described in as much detail as I can remember.
My friend Tara Thompson and I entered Rituals Coffee shop on campus Thursday afternoon to relax. As we entered, we noticed that one group of couches were seemingly free, because no one was sitting on them, except for 2 girls. We walked around the entire shop, and then returned to those couches, only to find that they were still unoccupied. I sat down on one couch, and Tara sat down on another one. One girl said that ‘somebody was sitting down there’, but didn’t make an issue out of it. Time passed, and no one came. About 10mins after, 2 other girls came to sit, informing Tara that she was in their seat. She obliged and sat next to me on the adjoining three-seater couch. Eventually all the seats were occupied. About 15mins after that another friend of theirs arrived and upon realizing that he was left without a seat they then addressed us rather curtly. We were told that they were 'saving' the particular seat for him and that we would have to move.
We told them that we were leaving Rituals in about ten minutes. Making sure to be calm, we suggested that they could either wait ten minutes until we left, or squeeze to make room for the last boy. I even indicated that four of us were on the three-seater quite comfortably, but they insisted that only a certain number of persons could sit and they wanted us to leave, evidently annoyed by our refusal. The more we stood our ground, the more irate and hostile they became.
They began telling us, with no provocation, how we were 'low-class', and that we only understood 'market language'. They added that it was unfortunate that they had to deal with 'people like us', since we 'were obviously so ignorant', that even conversing with us was detrimental to them somehow. A.Khan, one of the boys in their company, even said that 'people like them like to take what isn't theirs and make it their own.' To this we said that those words were not necessary, that no one was taking it to that base level. They refused to stop, and kept telling us about our up-bringing, class and education. Even so, we kept ignoring them.
Eventually, one of the girls, Aruna, got up saying that she could not stand to be around us anymore, that we were 'toxic people', and that being around us probably made her toxic too. When she said this, we said, "Ok then, go!" This must have upset her even more, because she doubled-back to continue the argument, insisting that we listen to what she had to say. We kept cutting her off, telling her it was a dead issue, that we wanted no more conversation with her and her counter parts. She then pointed to us and said, "Thaz why all yuh so!!! Thaz why allyuh would never reach nowhere!!!" She then turned around and said, "Yuh see me, I fed up of them and their nigger mentality.. apparently because they were all of East Indian decent and we were not.
I was so upset by her remark that I followed her outside. While running to catch up with her, I heard Tara say, "So is that a coolie mentality then?" questioning her behaviour.
I ran through Rituals, and caught her by the door and grabbed her by her hand to continue the dialogue. Needless to say that by then, my voice became increasingly louder demanding an apology and questioning her sanity for making such a blatantly racist comment. She began to protest, and I kept blocking her path to make my point. I kept repeating, “Do you know what a nigger is?? Her friend then intercepted the confrontation and I went back into Rituals.
I was so visibly shaken that the supervisor asked me what was wrong. I explained the situation to her, to which she was very understanding of my reaction and tried to calm me down. She also agreed that, ‘that word’ would not be acceptable in the establishment. She then proceeded to follow me to where the incident happened.
A.Khan then began to complain to the supervisor about his group saving seats. She tried to explain that the facilities were for everyone on campus, and that it was not policy to 'save' seats for friends in the shop. He again became very incensed, even mentioning that there was even a wallet where we were sitting down, insinuating that we could have stolen it.
I am asking for an apology from the said persons involved. I don't care what race you are, using racial slurs is totally uncalled for.– I am not trying to insight any racial tension on campus however I think everyone on campus needs to be tolerant of all other races, especially in a society as diverse as ours. I never in a million years ever expected this to happen to me. This letter should go on file in the Guild as an indicator of the prejudices that exist on campus. I am hoping that you deal with matter as quickly as possible.
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