The emotional violence of stereotypes
July 15, 2021
And here I am having to have the police escort me out of my hotel to a new one because other people can't do their job, and because they think that I'm obviously doing things that I shouldn't be as a Black person.
So this actually happened while I was in quarantine. I was at this point feeling a bit better. I was still a little bit sick. But apparently, the hotel that I was in, someone had snuck into the hotel. At the time, they were only like two... it was me and another student that had been in the hotel at the time. They had snuck in at like three o'clock in the morning. I get a call at three o'clock in the morning, and I'm like, 'Who's calling me? It is three o'clock in the morning. I am asleep. I have class the next morning.' And they asked me like, 'Did you have a visitor in your room?' And I'm like, 'No, I'm asleep.' So I go back to bed and I can't really sleep because I was just woken up.
And then at about four I get like just loud bangs on my door. And so I'm like, 'What is going on? It's four o'clock in the morning.' I ended up, I got up and everything, and the security guards like screaming through the door at me like, 'Open up. It's security. What are you doing?' And so I'm like, 'I'm coming. I'm putting on pants.' So I opened the door and there's two guys and this lady just towering over me outside my room. And they're like, 'Who did you have in your room?' And I'm like, 'No one. It's three o'clock in the morning. I have class tomorrow.' I should preface that I'm in quarantine, so I'm not supposed to have anybody in my room. And I was just woken up.
They're just like accusing me of having someone in my room, having a man in my room. And I'm like, 'I've been asleep. I don't know what else you want me to say.' And they're like, 'The man said he was in your room. You're going to be in so much trouble if you're lying.' Then they ended up leaving. So I'm terrified because it's just this huge big guy standing outside my room. I'm feeble and sick, also half awake. So I called the next morning because I was concerned as to what happened. They had said that a Black man had come into the hotel. He had snuck in and they didn't know where he had come from. They had thought that he was coming to see me, because I'm a Black girl. So I was like, 'There's another person in his hotel.' He was actually going to see the other person. I have no idea what race or gender they were. So I was like, wow, first of all, I'm terrified. It's four o'clock in the morning. I'm a young woman. I'm by myself. I don't know what's going on. And the assumption that was kind of made about me that because a Black guy had snuck into the hotel, he was obviously coming to see the other Black person in the hotel.
Had they not believed me, would I had gotten expelled? Because that's one of the consequences of breaking COVID rules. Had they not believed me, what would have happened to me? What would I have done? And it also just kind of like, wow, I feel like... I mean, I'm a junior now. I feel like I've got some sort of brain cells going on up here. The fact that my race had to come before my intellect. And I know they don't know what I'm thinking, they don't know me as a person. But the fact that I was identified first by my race in such a negative way was really just like jaw dropping, awe inspiring or whatever. I was just like I feel like I've spent so much time here, you know, not having horrible experiences, and not having to be subject to that. And here I am having to have the police escort me out of my hotel to a new one because other people can't do their job, and because they think that I'm obviously doing things that I shouldn't be as a Black person. That was kind of tough.
Sydni Brooks is a junior studying English and Gender Studies at the University of Notre Dame.