MADRID — Not long after international racial abuse conscientization, with the Black Lives Matter movement, institutionalized racism is unfortunately still present in our everyday lives. For Inés and Paola, it was a regular Wednesday night in the Madrid metro that confronted them with this reality.
The two girls entered the metro to head back home. During their ride, 3 girls started indirectly insulting a couple of Latin American migrants. Slowly, the insults were getting more personal and direct. “You don’t either pay taxes or work, go back to your country” among many other insults warmed up the situation.
When this happened, the Latino man asked what the problem was, and the Spaniards began to shout and spit at the migrants without any reason.
Inés and Paola oversaw the whole situation. However, they were not able to defend the migrants because they were scared of what the Spaniards could potentially do to them, which was a common reaction for the other riders as well. After a couple of minutes, someone helped the couple, telling the Spaniards that the comments were out of place and unjustified. Later on, both started to record and posted videos on social media. This scene was something Inés and Paola never expected to happen. Once they got out of the metro, they began questioning the behaviour of the girls but also their own.
At first sight, the feelings evoked were shame impotence and confusion. What was more shocking to them, however, was that they did not find an explanation for the actions that had transpired.
They argue that it is unacceptable to express these racial sentiments towards people of colour. First and foremost, because they violated a large variety of rules, namely having the mask on the train at all times. More importantly, they emphasized the diverse community which we all live in. Living in the multicultural capital of Spain and attending an international university goes directly against the values of our society: tolerance, respect and inclusivity. It was specifically this that changed their outlook since they have been and have Latino American friends.
“There is no room for insult in any of the places of the world. We should all be as respectful as they are with us.”
After a series of reflections, both Inés and Paola decided to take action and help the Latino couple. They posted content on social media and helped the police identify the three Spaniards insulting the migrant couple. Their work and action were crucial to help the situation change.
After they did so, they continued to help the couple and spreading these messages of respect and inclusion. What happened this day marked both IE students and helped them understand the real meaning of the power of a united force standing strong against hatred and racial injustice.