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‘Jaqaw liswed li qeda mijew...

It is not enough to remain silent or leave the room when witnessing racism

I only forged ahead with writing this blog post after consulting the ‘target’ in question – a colleague at Times of Malta who happens to be guilty of association simply because her partner is black.

The journalist was guilty of reporting a study showing that black migrant workers in Malta get paid a pittance.

In reality, the story’s hardly ground-breaking – for years Malta has served as a hub for migrant exploitation. But what embarrasses me, as a Maltese national, is the way we persist in our racial judgement. Because you know, in the eyes of too many, black people are only meant to collect our garbage bags and well, should be treated like garbage because who asked them to come here anyway?

Which probably spurred this ‘Martin’ to actually go through the bother of seeking out the journalist’s email address and writing her a one-liner: “Jaqaw liswed li qeda mijew mux jatuh paga bizzejjed ta (?) zibel”. (Is the black guy you’ve hooked up with not getting compensated enough, you (?) piece of rubbish).

Let’s forget the racial slurs, the hate and ignorance, let’s ignore the sheer disrespect of insulting and hurting someone he has never met, the message is a veiled threat – he was indirectly telling the journalist ‘I know your partner is black, so watch out’.Among the many incidents, I know he’s even been instructed by restaurant patrons to clear their tables when he’s dining with his partner

Apart from the fact that Martin desperately needs a crash course in writing Maltese, what is incredible is the way the self-annointed ‘privileged’ white people assume black people should not qualify for a decent salary. The online comments in reaction to the story generally questioned the audacity of black people to highlight their abysmal wages.

This racist probably assumes my colleague’s partner is living in Malta illegally, is a covert Muslim terrorist... and living off our taxes.

As it happens, the chap is a Christian Westerner (it’s totally irrelevant anyway) who works and pays his taxes in Malta. As it happens, I know this chap faces racial abuse almost on a daily basis. Among the many incidents, I know he’s even been instructed by restaurant patrons to clear their tables when he’s dining with his partner. And this is the daily cross hundreds of black people have to carry on our island.

I know I will be slammed for naming and shaming Martin. I know he will be perceived as a hero to the bigoted trolls.

But I also know hundreds of (black) migrants and ‘people of colour’ who are suffering in silence amid the bombardment of prejudice in my country.

I know my colleague and her partner have become almost immune to the blanket of racial hate. This is wrong and this is why I’ve chosen to make public the email sent to her.

We can no longer just remain silent, let it drop, leave the room, raise a brow or simply pray hoping the hate will go away.

It is up to every one of us to stand up and act against the pervasively malignant and malicious systemic illness.

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