Alexandra Wilson is a young British lawyer. It is also black and female. Every time Wilson entered the courtroom, she was tired of being mistaken for a defendant. When she shared her experiences on social media, many people were shocked and officials apologized.
But Wilson wants change, not an apology.
Alexandra Wilson became a lawyer at the age of 25. “I did not expect to have to constantly legitimize my presence at work,” Alexandra Wilson told the BBC.
But as a 25-year-old lawyer working in the British legal system, she has to do just that. And some days four times.
Merely because of his ethnic origin, when he goes to a trial, he wears robes, as is customary in some English courts. If she doesn’t have a wig, she is often mistaken for the suspects she defends.
The English legal system is famous around the world and may have influenced the legal order of many countries from Bangladesh to the Bahamas. However, Wilson’s experiences reveal the racism still seen.
“They even yelled to get out of the courtroom. Many times. This is indicative of a bigger problem in society,” says Alexandra.
However, Wilson stresses that he has received support from both the Bar and “white, female colleagues who have never had this problem.”
Finally, the authorities also apologized to her for this “completely unacceptable behavior”.
Lawyers in England do not wear gowns and wigs in all courtrooms.
When Alexandra finally entered the courtroom to represent her client, she was unaware that she would be caught in the middle of a social media storm.
The day had not started well; When she came to the building, the security guard asked her name “to be able to mark it on the suspect list”.
When she said she was a lawyer, the security guard apologized and Alexandra went on. But this time, a citizen said that “she cannot enter the courtroom because only lawyers can.”
Still, she entered the hall, and this time a lawyer stated that “she should go out and wait for the bailiff to call”.
Alexandra once again explained that she was a defense attorney and went to the front of the hall.
“At that moment, a clerk shouted and told me to come out of the hall and have my name be written by the bailiff. Meanwhile, she asked if I had a lawyer.”
Thus, in one day, Alexandra’s role in court was questioned four times in a short period of time.
When Alexandra finally manages to speak to the prosecutor, she says she was “completely exhausted” before the case began.
However, despite the treatment she faced, she continued.
“I managed to complete the trial and get a good result for my client. But this is making the situation more and more difficult,” she says.
“It had an effect on me,” she says, even though her experiences have no negative impact on her client.
“In order to do a good job, I had to hide how bored I was. It’s not a nice feeling to have to justify why you’re at work.”
Alexandra Wilson in her robe and wig.
“It was very annoying,” says Alexandra, who said that nobody apologized except the security guard that day.
Alexandra later received an official apology.
“It was an important first step, but we need to see real change. Unfortunately what happened was a reflection of the justice system. There are many black defendants and not enough black lawyers. Therefore, when the officers see a young rebel in court, they don’t think he is a lawyer. “Alexandra also adds, “It’s not such a good thing to be a defendant in England. Everyone should be treated with respect.”
Alexandra grew up in Essex, where England was often mocked for being the commoner and working class.
She wanted to study at Oxford since she was young.
But some staff at her school tried to discourage her from applying to this distinguished university.
“Many of my teachers were telling me I was too ambitious. Oxford was not for people like me. I was not high society, I did not come from a very rich family, I did not go to private school. I had an Essex accent and I was not white ”
The University of Oxford has in the past been criticized for not allowing much room for students of color who are not in private school. “So when I was a teenager, I doubted myself a lot. I wondered if my teachers were right,” says Alexandra.
So what happened.
Alexandra says she is very lucky with her parents’ support.
“They always encouraged Bani to aim for the highest,” she says.
“It was very important to me to be admitted to Oxford, but I didn’t feel that I belonged there. Reading was also difficult, but I like intellectual challenges. The most difficult part of me was the social dimension. ”
She states that she sometimes feels very lonely, and there are two black students all over the room, including herself.
But she says, “If you want to transform these institutions, you have to get in. We have to be there, people from very different origins.”
‘We don’t understand what racism is’
Some users on social media questioned Alexandra’s account and pointed out that they have never encountered such unprofessional behavior in court.
“Some say it can’t be right because it didn’t happen to them. This illustrates part of the problem: people don’t want to listen to others’ experiences and take them seriously.”
“This is an indicator of social attitude,” says Alexandra, emphasizing that it is not just what happened to her.
Alexandra also points to the numerous comments that a large number of black and South Asian lawyers say they have experienced the same.
Others say it’s more about ignorance than racism.
This is what annoys Alexandra the most.
“The biggest problem is that we don’t understand what racism is. People have long thought that you are racist if you insult racistly or say ‘Blacks, they can’t do this or that. Systemic racism is the area where people need to be educated and understood.”