Gabriel Zahra was born and raised in Malta, but every day is a struggle against members of the community who believe he is an immigrant because of the colour of this skin.
In light of recent events, Gabriel shared a couple of the racist struggles he goes through every day, as a man with colour in Malta, on his Facebook profile.
“In recent weeks, riots have sparked all over the world, causing countries to take a long look at the way they treat people of colour. Many Maltese citizens have claimed that All Lives Matter and they are not racist just patriotic however this is not the case. I am a Maltese citizen, I was born in St Luke’s Hospital, my birth mother was Maltese herself, however, my father was not. I am a Maltese man of colour and I can say for certain Malta has a problem with racism.
“What about Maltese Black Lives? Do their lives not matter? Ever since a very early age I have experienced a multitude of comments about the colour of my skin ranging from the harmless “How come you speak Maltese, you’re black?” to the very popular “Go back to your country” which of course left a 4-year-old boy very confused, why were people telling him to go back to his country when he was born and raised here.
“Comments were passed every day from people who might have not even known the comments where hurtful however I could never catch a break, I could not get it, why was I different?
“I then started school and the comments quickly turned into pushing and shoving. The school was not equipped to handle these incidents, as when I reported this I was put in counselling where I had to learn how to deal with racism. I was told to laugh at racist jokes, and when someone said “Aw iswed” I had to laugh and say oh really, I did not realise. I was being taught that other people hating you for the way you look was okay if you did not give them a reaction.
“Racism went unpunished and from then on, I realised that I had no voice in this country. There was no one in a position of power who looked like me, no one to give me a voice, no one to protect me from the racial injustice, because there was no one to point it out.
“I might not have been shot, but I have experienced racism every day of my life. Racism is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
“People in this country are not aware of the issue, they think all black people are illegal immigrants, they think all black people should leave their country. I leave the house every day, I make sure I have my Maltese ID card on me so that I can tell that racist lady on the bus yelling at me and hitting me with her bag that I am in fact Maltese. I make sure that I don’t put on a hood or anything that covers my face so that when someone looks at me and clutches their bag they don’t also run away, I make sure the clothes I’m wearing are branded so that when I approach someone to ask for directions they don’t tell me I don’t have any money sorry.
“I must spend most of my time making sure Maltese people are comfortable around me, how can people say All Lives Matter when it clear as day that mine is obviously seen as less. I am a Maltese citizen who must fight every day to prove to others around him that is he is Maltese, and I am not the only one. Black Lives Matter is not just about the immigrants who live on the island what about us, we need to be heard.