On a day when America celebrated its independence, one black woman was reminded of the racism that still exists in the “greatest nation in the world.”
While on a flight from New Jersey to Louisiana, Brittney Cooper experienced racism from a white passenger.
When I got called it today, some part of me felt like that little girl again. I felt the slur just as viscerally, the foreboding sense that something was wrong not with anything I had said or done, but simply with me. Immediately I was hyper-aware – looking around, feeling marked, wondering if others find my large, dark-skinned body as distasteful as my seatmate did.
I know I am fat. And I am most self-conscious of being so on planes, as I worry about taking up too much space. In my head, I always think people will dread to see me coming because Americans are great believers in personal space. I am no exception.
Even so, I was acutely aware, at least intellectually, that the problem lay with her and not me. But what would my recourse be. Though she was no toothpick herself, she is a white lady, a mom, with children and a husband – all the trappings of American middle-class respectability. Moreover, she sent those words in a private text communication. I am a fat, dark-skinned black woman. Had I gone off and set it off as she deserved, in all probability I would have been seen as the terrorist threat. Especially on the eve of the Fourth of July.
Read more of Cooper’s harrowing encounter here.