Roma Women defender Allyson Swaby has written about her personal experiences facing racism in America, in an impassioned plea for others to reckon with their actions.
Swaby, 23, represents Jamaica at international level but was born and raised in the United States - growing up in Connecticut and going on to attend the prestigious Boston College.
After turning professional following graduation, she joined Roma in the winter of 2018 - going on to become a cornerstone of Betty Bavagnoli's side.
This Friday (June 5) should have been the 27th birthday of Breonna Taylor, an African-American emergency services worker who was shot and killed by Louisville police in her own home on March 31.
Following the recent police killing of George Floyd, the frequency of such incidents has seen a national - and international - reckoning with the historically oppressive treatment of the black community in the United States and elsewhere by many groups, including the police.
In her post, Swaby highlighted the many forms racism can take - and called on others to recognise and confront it wherever they may see it.
(Click on the arrows on the post to swipe through her comments)
"Honestly, I was conflicted on whether to share this because I don’t want to fill up anymore space in a crowded room. But I want to speak to all of my non-black followers/friends. Which, quite frankly, is a lot of you. Specifically those, who STILL do not feel called to action in support of the black community.
"These are some examples of direct racism and micro-aggressions I experienced at Boston College (4 years of my 23 year life). I want you to hear some of my experiences because we likely still do or have existed in the same community.
"If you think racism only exists in the darkest of places and not your own communities, friends, families and homes, I’m sharing my story for you.
- Explaining to white friends why they cannot say or sing the n word. Only for them to continue using it over and over
- Being told I’m “black as shit” by a teammate
- Being told “no black people allowed” in a GROUP photo by a teammate
- Being asked “how come [your] sister is so light???”
- Being told I’m “pretty for a black girl”
- Listening to a teammate chant “build the wall” while watching the news
- Being told “you know damn well you wouldn’t have gotten in to Boston College if it wasn’t for soccer”
"This isn’t an exhaustive list but just a few examples of racism shown towards and around me. I’m not sure the people that spoke these words even remember. And I’m not sure the people in the room, who heard, felt more discomfort for me than themselves. Well I remember it all, and you’ve probably mistaken my forgiveness for carelessness.
"Today I watched a video of family members of the church goers murdered in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. I listened to them explain how they FORGAVE the monster who took the lives of their loved ones. Well, if they can forgive someone for that, I can forgive the ones responsible for the words and actions above.
I’d like to think these words and actions have never torn me down because I know it’s not my blackness that is flawed. But, they’ve constantly reminded me that no achievement, accomplishment, kindness or conformity can protect me from the racism rooted in our society.
"But, what I cannot do, is stand in silence and allow another person to think their words and actions are not racist because they are “just kidding”. Because they “didn’t mean it like that.” Because they are “sorry.”
"I’d like to think these words and actions have never torn me down because I know it’s not my blackness that is flawed. But, they’ve constantly reminded me that no achievement, accomplishment, kindness or conformity can protect me from the racism rooted in our society.
"They are a reminder that when I walk into a room, people will notice my blackness first. They will have formulated an idea about me before they’ve gotten to know me. I will feel like it’s my job to prove them otherwise.
"But what if people don’t get to know me? Am I no longer the person I’ve spent my whole life working to be? Am I just another black girl to everyone around me? What if I’m not at my best, all the time? Does that make me disposable? In my heart no, but in my mind, I have to assume the answer to these questions is yes, just to keep myself safe.
"Because as we’ve seen, the rules in America for staying alive while black are extensive, ever-changing, and without explanation.
"I’ve spent so much energy focusing on the good in so many friendships, ready to defend the character of people who I see have decided they’re not going to defend me. So please know, if you think I’m speaking to you… I’M SPEAKING TO YOU.
"If you can’t find it in yourself to stand up for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or any other person because you don’t know them personally, please hear me. See that I am standing right in front of you, saying this DOES affect you personally.
"Again, don’t feel bad for me… I’m healthy, privileged in so many ways, and surrounded by great people. Nothing about my experience is unique to black Americans.
"Take whatever feelings you have from this and turn them into action.
"Peace and love."