My Family Were Refused Service Because We Were Black

A racist experience is an instant flashbulb memory.

Shamar M
Momentum
Published in
5 min readNov 27, 2023

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Photo by LaShawn Dobbs on Unsplash

Every year in the summer holidays, since I was a baby, I would travel to France. The reason behind it was that my family had a house there that they bought for mere pennies in the 80s and had renovated into a family holiday home.

Just like everything in life, the good side to that was having a house in France, but the downside is that it was in an extremely remote area in the North. There was no television because it would be impossible to get a signal, the Wi-Fi was extremely temperamental, we lived opposite a farm that slaughtered cows, so that was fun, and the nearest hospital was a one-hour drive away.

I understand why they managed to purchase the place so cheap.

Despite the downsides, the house was a home. It was our home, and every single year, it was a joy to go and visit.

One day, my family and I decided to go to the local supermarket. This was a half an hour’s drive, a drive that you had to be very cautious about because there were many bendy roads with dodgy sharp turns. You wouldn’t want to break down one of those roads in the nighttime.

No lighting and no signal — a real-life horror movie.

On the way to the supermarket, my mother needed to stop off at one of the shops to buy a pack of cigarettes. I’m proud to say she doesn’t smoke now, but unfortunately, for many years, she did.

I recall the shop having flashing lights on the outside with a big blue banner, one of the ones you can stand under if it starts to rain and you need shelter. Usually, one of my parents stayed in the car with us if the other needed to make a purchase, which is a wise decision whilst on holiday.

My mother was the one to go into the shop as she was the one who needed the cigarettes. None of my family could speak good French. In fact, I probably would have been able to understand and speak French the best as I was taking classes in school. You didn’t need to speak much French in the area we lived in. Most of the time, you would be okay if you knew the basic numbers, and you could just point to what you needed, and the salesperson…

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Shamar M
Momentum

27. Based in the UK. PG DIP HR Management. Chief of publication The First Time. Editor in About Me Stories.