“Where are you taking that bag?” this girl said as she walked up to Aliyah.
“Eh?” Aliyah said, slinging the bag over her shoulder and staring back.
“That isn’t yours.”
“What? Yeah it is.”
Quickly the strange girl jumped in front of her, as if to block her way. Aliyah slammed into her before she could stop herself, hitting her mouth against the shorter girl’s head and busting her lip before they swung round together, gripping onto each other as they dropped down to the floor.
A couple of hours earlier, Aliyah had arrived at the bar with a friend, Aida, after a busy work shift. She was excited to blow off steam and dance the night away with Aida, who was always up for a good time. This was just what Aliyah needed tonight. To dance and forget things.
They’d gone to their usual spot at the tables near the back. They finally got served some drinks after a long queue. Aliyah was thrilled to be there, she loved the crowd, the reggaeton music, and the smell of sweaty people having a good time. Aida and Aliyah left their bags and coats in a booth along with others, downed their drinks, and dived straight in, grooving to the music.
Aida was a smoker and soon headed out for cigarettes. She’d go to the booth, take her bag out with her, and put it back each time she went out. Aliyah decided to go to the ladies after Aida’s fourth smoke break. She headed to the booth that had the pile of bags and jackets and was immediately confronted by the strange girl.
Aliyah pulled herself off the girl, blood dripping on her t-shirt. People had crowded round to watch and she could hear staff shouting. They would be fighting their way towards them in seconds. She tried to lift her bag again, but the girl was still clinging onto it.
“It’s not your bag, you fucking thief, let go!”
Aliyah pulled on it as hard as she could, and heard herself shout, “Get off, you fucking racist bitch!”
The girl let go and clambered to her feet.
“I’m no racist, don’t you dare call me that.”
Suddenly Aida was there, looking at Aliyah.
“What’s happening?” she said.
“This bitch accused me of stealing a bag.”
The girl was shaking her head.
“I just… didn’t want you to take my mate’s one.”
“why would I?,” Aliyah said.
Aida grabbed her sleeve and they walked away quickly as the barstaff arrived and started shouting questions at people.
They made it to the bathroom and squeezed into one cubicle and shut the door. The music had been turned off in the club and all that could be heard was the noise of people talking and the bouncers shouting, trying to find out what had happened.
Aida was whispering in Aliyah’s ear, telling her calm down and ignore the girl. people really weren’t like that here, and not to be angry about it.
You should not let it bother you, baby, don’t mind her.” Aida said when she saw Aliyah’s face.
’’I feel so humiliated’’ said Aliyah
Frustrated, Aliyah went for some fresh air holding the designer bag she’d bought from a friend. Though second hand, it was her favorite. She looked at Aida as she tried to cheer her up. Aliyah understood that her friend would never get what it felt like. What it sometimes feels like to be Black.
I chose to tell this story for Black History Month because it is a true story (Names have been changed). Moreover, I felt compelled to share this story because PCO and especially black people experience subtle and not so subtle racism regularly. The impact of this prejudice is frequently unseen and underestimated by the rest of society. That is why it is essential to use this platform to bring awareness to these issues that need to be addressed.