Kenyan journalist Larry Madowo has narrated an incident where was subjected to racism when he arrived in the US to pursue his master’s degree.
Madowo, who graduated with a Master’s in Business and Economics Journalism from Columbia University last month, said this happened in his first week in New York last summer.
“I was invited to dinner at a friend's penthouse on the wealthy Upper West Side. I picked up some fruit for her and arrived at her building carrying a plastic bag,” wrote Madowo.
When he arrived at the house, his friend’s doorman ushered him in through the back door where he says he used a dirty service lift.
“The front desk sent me through an open courtyard to the back of the building, past residents' garbage bags and into a surprisingly dirty lift. When I got off upstairs, my host opened the door mortified, all the color drained from her face,” noted Madowo.
Madowo says that his friend apologized saying that "my racist doorman thought you're a delivery guy and made you use the service elevator."
"The incident forewarned me that America may be the land of opportunity for many, but it would still reduce me to the color of my skin and find me unworthy," Madowo adds.
“I have worked in the complicated racial hierarchies of South Africa and the UK and have traveled around the world, but it still stung that an American butler did not think accomplished white people like my friend and her husband could have a black dinner guest.
“That early micro-aggression forewarned me that America may be the land of opportunity for many, but it would still reduce me to the color of my skin and find me unworthy,” said Madowo.
Madowo’s revelation comes against the backdrop of violent protests across the US over the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody.
46-year-old Floyd died after the police officer named Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck in an incident that was captured on camera.
“It did not matter that I am from a black majority African nation, people who look like me here have to negotiate for their humanity with a system that constantly alienates, erases, and punishes them,” said Madowo.
“In Kenya, I may disappear into the crowd, but in America, I always have a target on my back for being black.”