‘It really hurts’ Four British women share their first-hand experiences of racism

Four young women speak to Marie Claire about how it feels to be a young, black or Asian woman in Britain today

When Marie Claire launched our #CallOutRacism campaign, there had been a 57 per cent increase in hate crime since the Brexit vote. But it wasn’t about statistics, it was about the everyday experiences of people in Britain, particularly women, the micro-aggressions they encounter on a daily basis and the prejudice of complete strangers.

Earlier this year, #BlackWomenAtWork was trending as women across the globe shared their stories of prejudice in the workplace. It came after Fox News host Bill O’Reilly told US congresswoman Rep. Maxine Waters that he couldn’t focus on what she was saying because of ‘the James Brown wig’. Later in the day, reporter April Ryan was mocked by the White House press secretary when she asked a question and was told to ‘stop shaking her head’.

Previously, in the aftermath of the Westminster terror attacks, a photo of a woman wearing a hijab on Westminster Bridge went viral on social media. Why? Because the woman was pictured passing a victim of the attack and people were criticising her for what they perceived as her indifferent attitude to what was happening around her.

‘Not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, I’ve also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia,’ the woman later told Tell MAMA, an organisation that monitors anti-Muslim attacks, after she made headlines around the world.

We spoke to four women who shared their emotional experiences of what racism really feels like and why it’s everyone’s responsibility to #CallOutRacism

Also in our campaign: Marie Claire writer Anita Bhagwandas talks of her experiences on dating websites where she is regularly lauded for her ‘exotic’ looks and comments from men looking to date a ‘brown girl’. Lawyer and author Saurav Dutt tells of his shock when, during a discussion with a publisher, they asked if they could change his name. ‘They said the subject wasn’t about “Asian matters”, so there wasn’t much precedent for a “name like mine” to appear on a non-ethnic book, he explains.’ And fashion designer Heidy Rehman shares her feelings on Trump’s Muslim ban.

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