British R&B star Jamelia boarded a first-class car in a train at London's Euston station with her 11-year-old daughter. Soon after the two sat down, another passenger approached her and asked a strange question — whether she had a first-class ticket. The 36-year-old and her daughter were the only Black people in the car. "Why did you ask me that?" said Jamelia. The woman responded: "Well, I've just seen the conductor and he won't let you travel in this carriage." After some back-and-forth, Jamelia decided to call out the woman. "Let this be a lesson to you," she said. "Don't you ever make this assumption out loud again, I hope you feel ashamed." After Jamelia and her daughter moved away from the lady, a white man came and sat where they had — but the woman didn't ask him anything. Jamelia documented her entire experience on Twitter, which was originally reported by Madame Noire.
This is earlier...but hella appropriate ??? pic.twitter.com/bbhiugkGnB— #Яebel (@Jamelia) January 12, 2017
On her blog, she wrote a longer response to the incident, which was unfortunately not isolated. “Most of my train travel is first class, and I would estimate that at least 60% of the time, I experience this exchange with either another passenger or someone working for the train company," she wrote. "It’s irritating, embarrassing, but I, like many affluent, Black women, accept it as an annoying part of the space I occupy in society. I have multiple replies to my tweets from people who have had similar exchanges, and rarely are they isolated incidents." It's exhausting to have to keep calling out institutionalized racism, but it's important to continue doing the work — whether you are the target or witness another person being subjected to it. We're ashamed that these incidents are still happening in 2017 — and that many kids, like Jamelia's daughter, are growing up while being subjected to discrimination.
I'm done not calling people out. I am also raising two wonderful young women who will grow up to call you out too...you have been warned ???— #Яebel (@Jamelia) January 12, 2017
Jamelia and her daughter received an outpouring of support on Twitter:
. @Jamelia Good 4 u! Ridiculous we still have to deal w such nonsense! Must also protect our health & #wellbeing from racial battle fatigue— Dr Nicola Rollock (@NicolaRollock) January 12, 2017
@Jamelia "Show me your papers" is such racist, coded bullshit. She must work really hard at keeping herself that ignorant.— Kim Coghill (@kimpunity) January 18, 2017
@Jamelia So glad you (and your daughter!) called her out. We need more of that, it's 2017 not 1917.— Chris P. Bacon (@foodfrenemy) January 12, 2017