It’s not every day that you hear of a racist attack happening in Stirling.
Unfortunately for Mo, it is something that she is forced to relive on an almost daily basis.
Earlier this year, a 19-year-old University of Stirling student “Mo” was walking through the old town area of Stirling, where she was surrounded by a group of teenage boys who subjected her to vile racist abuse.
“They walked past me, circling me, calling me a n****r over and over again”, she said.
“I instantly stopped. I just froze. I felt like I was in a really bad movie, but I wasn’t.”
What hurt Mo the most was that the boys were only around the age of 16, the same age that she was when her high school English class read To Kill a Mockingbird, the renowned novel which tackles racial inequality in America.
She said: “They would have already been exposed to racism and moral education. They would have known better.
“They used that word against me, with so much fire and aggression behind it. It was used in the way that people say it is never used nowadays.
“I did nothing about it; I didn’t report it to the police but looking back, I really should have.”
Racial crime is the most commonly reported hate crime, with 3,249 charges being reported to Police Scotland in 2017/18, despite many instances going unrecorded.
It wasn’t until a week later, following an argument in which some of her former friends used the n-word in her presence, that she took to Twitter to talk about the racist incident.
The tweet went semi-viral, getting more than 6,000 likes and lots of support. Along with the support, however, came a lot of backlash.
Online trolls messaged Mo, accusing her of attention seeking and being a ‘snowflake’.
One said: “Omg black people would literally do anything for attention and play the race card for people to feel sorry for them. Off my screen please.”
Another added: “You need to stop being so over dramatic for some attention on twitter. Like seriously, rappers use that word in nearly every song they rap. If they didn’t use it then it wouldn’t be in society today.”
Mo also experienced people telling her that she ‘deserved’ to be called this, which made her frustrated, angry and upset all at once.
Mo said: “It was typical 2007 online hate, but it’s 2019. It’s very rare to have an incident plastered online that highlights just how racist society can be. Normally, it’s subtle. Still vicious, but subtle.”
Following the incident and the online trolling, Mo hoped that she could count on her friends for some comfort and support. Instead, she discovered the opposite.
She said: “I fell out with a lot of my friends at university as well because anytime I mentioned it, they accused me of wanting to be a vigilante and that I was being too oversensitive.
“They said that the n-word was just a word, and that I was being overdramatic. That was a real kick in the teeth.
“I’m the perfect snowflake because I’m mentally ill as well – that can also be used against me.
“I was diagnosed with anxiety when I was nine, and I’m 19 now. I know how anxious and stressful situations like that can be.
“Having to relive the events with a negative light shown on me was awful. I feel like when I do speak up, I’m attacking people.”
Mo admits that she doesn’t like playing the victim. Putting her heart on the line and then getting torn down, was difficult to take.
“Nobody understood how much hate I genuinely got from one tweet”, she added.
“You’re more likely to be told off for telling someone they’re racist than actually being racist.”
For almost every year that Mo has been alive since she can remember, she can recall at least one racist attack.
Last year, she was admitted to hospital. In the gastritis ward, she remembers the woman next to her complaining that she “had a sore stomach”.
And when asked what year it was, the woman in question looked over in Mo’s direction.
“Well we’re definitely not in the 1970s”, she replied.
Other than her parents, who are both from Uganda, and her siblings, Mo was only ever surrounded by white people growing up.
She lived in Leith, Corstorphine, then Sighthill. She tasted life in many parts of Edinburgh but she still never met anyone that looked like her.
She was the only black girl in a school of around 2,000 people.
One vivid memory that Mo recalls from high school life was reading To Kill a Mockingbird in her fourth-year English class.
It was only her, along with the other black boy in her school, who refused to utter the n-word out loud.
Mo said: “People called me sensitive for not wanting to say the slur out loud.
“It felt like it wasn’t my word anymore; it was a word that people used towards, or against me.
“Even now, I still don’t say the word because of that experience.”
And growing up, Mo struggled to find a sense of belonging.
She said: “I am slightly eloquent in the way I talk, and I don’t use slang because I was never surrounded by black people.
“I missed out on a black upbringing. Even though it’s part of my identity, I am constantly feeling in limbo.
“I feel like I have spent my life trying to prove my blackness, due to my Scottish accent and the way I speak and act.”
She was very aware that she was the odd one out. Whenever she fell and hurt her knee, the focus was never on the injury but on the fact that she was pink inside.
Fast forward to 2019, Mo still feels as if she has to “pick and choose what racist things she calls out because certain things, which white people don’t see as a big deal, are a big deal to me.”
Scotland has come a long way in how it perceives race, and statistics show that race-based attacks are decreasing.
However, incidents like Mo’s show that in Stirling, racism, in its many different forms, does still exist.
If you or someone you know is the victim of hate crime, Police Scotland has various ways that you can report it. You can do so by calling 101 or visiting your nearest police office.
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