April 14, 2018 3:03 pm

‘It was definitely eye-opening’: individuals discuss social media reactions to #FirstTimeIwasCalled series

WATCH: Jully Black, Farheen Khan, Daniel Pillai discuss social media reactions to #FirstTimeIwasCalled series


After coming forward with their earliest memories of discrimination as part of the #FirstTimeIwasCalled series, three of the individuals featured say they received a mix of both positive and negative feedback.

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Singer Jully Black, media personality Daniel Pillai and writer Farheen Khan sat down with Global News anchor Farah Nasser after the series aired, speaking about the feedback they received.

READ MORE: ‘It made me feel fear and anger’: Ontario’s Regional Chief reflects on his first brush with racism

Nasser spoke with Black, Khan and Pillai as well as other several high-profile Canadians for a series of interviews about the first time they experienced racism or discrimination and how that experience affected them.

In many of the cases, Khan said she saw a lot of Islamophobic comments after she spoke about her experience of being attacked and being called a bad Muslim.

“It was definitely eye opening,” Khan said.

“It was definitely hard and overwhelming. Some of the comments that came out said ‘well maybe if you weren’t dressed like a terrorist, you wouldn’t experience that.’ It was really hard to digest some of that but unfortunately there is still a lot of hate that is out there.”

Watch below as Farah Nasser details the negative reaction the project has received: 

Khan wasn’t the only person to be bombarded with negative comments. Pillai said he experienced it as well but it was not for coming forward with his sexuality.

Pillai said he received a barrage of comments attacking his weight.

READ MORE: Sparking a conversation: social media users react to #FirstTimeIWasCalled

“I expected some level of homophobia but I got none of it,” he said.

“Instead, I got a lot of fat-shaming tweets and messages. The most shocking one to me was ‘maybe you should lose some weight, why should we be concerned about your feelings?’, as if being bigger meant I should take more. I should put up with more negativity.”

READ MORE: Jagmeet Singh on confronting racism as a child: ‘They would pull off my turban and pull my hair’

For Black, coming forward with her story of being called a n—-r b—h on a streetcar when she was just 12 years old was a healing experience.

“It was like I was levitating,” she said.

WATCH: Jully Black speaks about #FirstTimeIWasCalled 

“You’re carrying that weight for so long and I realized carrying that baggage affected other areas of my life. It affected my  image. I had more time to reflect. You don’t realize how deep you bury things down.”

Khan commended the allies that came to her defense after the she saw the online criticism and said seeing people advocating for her and the attack she experienced post 9/11 inspired her.

“It made me really happy to see some of the positive responses that came out. I saw some amazing allies that were advocating,” she said.

“They were trying to flood comments with positivity and to flood out the hate. The role of allies is so important.”

Learn more about #FirstTimeIwasCalled and feel free to share your stories using the hashtag #FirstTimeIwasCalled.

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