I watch the news and even though I’m sat in my living room in a quiet suburb in Sydney, I see my own experiences in an echo chamber and I feel decades of suppressed racial trauma bubble to the surface.
The years of systematic oppression and racism in America reached its tipping point in recent weeks with the inflammatory police call against Christian Cooper and the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. As people added their own commentary to these events, I was suddenly inundated with comments like ‘This isn’t our problem’ and ‘What has this got to do with Australia?’ across my social media, despite Australia having a long history of police brutality and custodial deaths of Indigenous people.
To instil the everyday realities of what many black people face around the world, I did not share a news story, a link to a resource or a hashtag. I decided to share my own personal experience of racism. And people were horrified.
WATCH: Roxie Washington’s emotional statement about the death of George Floyd. Post continues after video.
I am third generation Caribbean black British; my mother’s side is Jamaican and my dad’s side is Dominican. I moved to Australia six years ago and when I fell pregnant with my now 18-month-old daughter, my husband and I moved to a quiet suburb in rural Sydney filled with families and good schools in the hopes of exciting new beginnings as a family of three.
A few weeks ago, I took my usual route through the park as my daughter slept in her pram. It was an ordinary, slow day in the quiet slumber of social distancing where many of us had adjusted to a new-normal.
As I walked along the pavement, I noticed a van slow down next to me. I took my headphones off but looked straight ahead and my heart started to race. Now the car was right next to me moving slowly, I looked over and saw three white men in their mid-twenties laughing and talking loudly and despite being a usually calm person, I felt my anxiety rise.
Then I felt something hit me in the chest and I realised they had thrown something at me, I felt it again and again. By this stage I had turned my pram away and thrown my body over the closed hood to try and shield my sleeping child. There really are no words to describe what it feels like to think your child is in danger, the helplessness sent a wave of terror over my whole body like nothing I have ever felt before.