U.K. singer Jamelia Davis was traveling on a train with her daughter last Thursday when she had an unpleasant encounter with a racist stranger. As Davis described in a series of tweets, a woman in her 40s approached her and her 11-year-old to ask whether they first class tickets—seemingly because they were the only black passengers in the car. Coupled with the fact that this woman didn't work for the railroad, Davis's story is especially outrageous. And that's exactly why it's going viral.
Davis's tweets immediately ignited a firestorm on Twitter. Many were shocked that this kind of institutionalized racism still exists.
Others chimed in with similar stories from their own lives.
But then there were the inevitable trolls. Some Twitter users turned the story back on Davis, accusing her of making assumptions based on her own prejudices.
As a mother of two with a professional music career, Davis didn't have time to reply to each of these chumps individually. And by this point, her story had started to go viral outside of Twitter. Media outlets were contacting her to ask for a statement, but rather than indulge them all, she chose to respond to everyone at once, by publishing a statement on her own website.
In the piece, she explains what happened in more detail than she did in her original tweets. She also expresses surprise that her story shocked anyone, because it's hardly an isolated incident. Then, she responds to everyone who accused her of "playing the race card," by mentioning that if she and other black people tweeted every time they experienced racism, it would flood the social network entirely.
She concludes with this message about why, as a parent, she felt the need to speak out.
I do not want to keep quiet about it anymore. We serve no-one by remaining quiet, if anything this renders us complicit in the continuation and validation of this behaviour. It is not ok with me, and it shouldn't be ok with you. Most importantly, i'm teaching my girls not to be ok with it either. I absolutely refuse to send my daughters out into a world that tells them NOT to speak up when someone hurts them. The only way that will happen is if we are all brave enough to put these important conversations on the table now.