I Got Hurt by Maroi Ech-Charkaouy, Morocco

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It all started when I visited Chicago last summer. I had the chance to attend the GGM World Summit. I was so excited to go, but at the same time, I was worried about the way people would treat me.

Once I arrived at the Chicago airport I fell in love with Americans! They were helpful, nice, and tolerant – nothing like what I expected!

One day, me and another GGM girl from L.A called Rocio (she is Latina) went out to discover the city. As we were trying to take a picture of ourselves, a random woman stopped and volunteered to take it! We didn’t even ask her! She even helped us to get where we wanted. I was really amazed by the kindness of these people; they didn’t care about my scarf or Rocio’s color. To my surprise, we didn’t experience any form of racism.

The next stop of my trip was Europe, the land of human rights. I was so excited! If Americans were so nice, how would Europeans be?!

Once I arrived to Graz, Austria, my mentor was waiting for me, a nice Austrian guy; he showed me around and helped me with everything for my stay. I thought, “These Austrians are really nice, my stay will be incredibly great”.  But this was a mistake. When I started hanging out with my other veiled friends, I started getting hateful looks from people in the street. People would stare at me as if I was an alien or a criminal; some even walked away from me. I first thought that this treatment was reserved to Muslims, but then I realized that they were treating colored people in the exact same way.

Two weeks after my arrival in Graz, as I was standing on a busy street, I felt something weird behind me… someone was grabbing my butt! I turned and saw a guy making fun with his friends! When I found the courage to yell at him, no one around helped me, no one stopped him or condemned his sexual harassment act. Everyone was staring at me…I felt that I was the one who committed a mistake! I felt so confused, mad and sad at the same time. I realized that no one would defend a North African veiled girl over a white man.  It was like time traveling to the 16th century and I was trying to stand up in front of a white Lord. The police didn’t intervene either.

Was I in the land of human rights?! Maybe only for the white ones.

I’m not saying that all Europeans or Austrians are racists, I already mentioned how nice my mentor was, and my Austrian classmates were wonderful too, but I felt that the majority of the people there were racists. I don’t know why? I assume the reason is that they were raised this way.

Racism happens everywhere, even in my own country. Some Moroccans are racists and they don’t even realize it. Racism is a terrible thing and it should come to an end. We are all humans, no one is better than the other, and no one has the right to treat others in a bad way just because he/she looks different. We have come a long way from the dark ages, but apparently some people are still there. Raise your kids to be humans not to feel that they are better than other humans; because racism hurts, take it from me, I got hurt in the land of human rights.

Maroi Ech-Charkaouy,

YaLa Young Leaders

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