Woman Shares Experience After Passenger Refused To Believe She Had First Class Ticket
Jamelia Davis is a singer from the United Kingdom with a significant social media following. But recently, she took to Twitter to share an experience she had on the train where she reports she was victim to "institutionalized racism." Davis and her 11-year-old daughter were seated in the first class carriage when she says that they were challenged by a fellow passenger.
Davis wrote about the encounter in an open letter, reporting that she was approached by a woman in her early 40s who asked her, "Do you have a first class ticket?"
"I was genuinely confused at her question, why would I be sat in the 1st class carriage without one?"
"I look at her, she isn’t dressed as if she works for the company, I glance around and it clicks. My daughter and I are the only black people in the carriage."
"I feel it’s necessary to give her the benefit of the doubt, and for clarity, I ask 'why did you ask me that?' She leans in, and in a hushed tone, as if helping me out says 'well i’ve just seen the conductor, and he wont let you travel in this carriage.' Again, I ask'why?' she replies 'you need a 1st class ticket.'"
"At this point I feel her assumptions are crystal clear, i’m offended and my daughter’s face shows she has understood the rhetoric too. I feel this is a teachable moment, for both the woman in question and my daughter."
Davis decided to ask why the woman had confronted her and her daughter. The woman went on to claim she wanted to sit next to them. She recounts the conversation:
"'What made you ask me that question, and no one else in this carriage?'"
"'It’s because I wanted to sit with you.'"
“'I don’t need a ticket for you to sit opposite me, there’s no need to lie, my 11 year old could explain why you asked, why not just be honest? The least you could do is admit you were wrong to do so.'”
“'No, I wasn’t wrong. What are you implying?'”
"At this point I find the exchange humorous, I really would have respected this woman if she could admit that she acted out of prejudice and this was an error, but she chose to remain wrong and strong. I reply with;"
“'Let’s be honest, you’ve seen a young, black girl and assumed she doesn't have a 1st class ticket. You’ve allowed your prejudice to speak for you.'”
“'No, that’s not it, I would ask anyone I intend to sit with if they had a first class ticket.'”
“'Really? So if I was an older white man, you would ask him? Let this be a lesson to you, don't you ever make this kind of assumption out loud again. I hope you feel ashamed.'”
Davis says the experience isn't unique.
"Black people experience this daily, in social and professional environments, whether it’s being greeted with 'Wha Gwarn,' touching our hair without permission, being told we are 'so well-spoken,' being repeatedly stopped in our luxury cars or being asked if we have a ticket to travel in first class. This kind of thing happens every. single. day."
"The problem is that we don't tell you, we speak about it amongst ourselves, and you get to carry on about your day not realising you've ruined ours. I tweeted because I wanted you to read it."