60 years after Rosa Parks' arrest for not giving up her seat on a segregated bus 60 years after Rosa Parks' arrest for not giving up her seat on a segregated bus NBC News

Today, I Felt Like Rosa Parks

Reporter's Diary / Tuesday, 16 January 2018 16:56

Timeline: Tuesday, 16 January, 2018. Midday.  (Luxembourg National Library).

I arrived at the library, to work on different things... Marking of exams scripts, of students of the undergraduate class I teach in the University of Strasbourg. And of course, my replies to a pile of correspondence in my inbox. If time permits, then I could also clean up my laptop with a duplicate cleaner, I had imagined.

Ominous, from the word go, it seemed. I should have known. Internet access denied.  There I was,  in a room awash with desktops, beautifully set on desks, to the left, right and just about any direction the head turns, and enough spare pace to  add place one's own laptop, too, I assumed.  Alright, no internet access.  Yet, as a lady, I  presumed, I fit the tag of someone able “able to handle more than a single thing, at a time”. So,  I set out to do more than cleaning my computer with a software to delete duplicate folders and document.

Library, 3.30 pm. Having eaten nothing all day, I opted  for a coffee break, something to eat, snacks or whatever I could grab in the buttery. So, I stepped out of the main hall.
15 minutes later…I’m back to my place. But someone is there... sitting on my chair. And guess what? My laptop, dossiers, books and bag, all gone. Hmmmm, surprise, surprise, served cold!

In my place, right there on my chair, was a gruff fellow, a face that wore an unfriendly look, made complete by a furrowed brow. This was my “welcome back?” A grubby fellow long past his prime, who elects to be unfriendly because he grabbed my seat as soon as I left for the buttery? No, I wasn’t having this. First thing first, wheres my laptop, my books, my bag.  Where are the things I left here, I inquired. I fought had to suppress the bile.    

This fellow looks at me over, as if I wasn’t there, wand what does he do? He looks away. A voice floats across the aisle, some other guy doing some work. And he says,  “…ask the officials at the  reception. The man there (the grubby one he meant), took them there”. Tell me more, I said within. So, I scurried off to the reception, got my “things”, and was back. Now grubby fellow, you’re going to move your butts, I suggested in a civil tone. Was I asking for trouble? I didn’t think so at all. By me, this man is in a hell of a trouble already.

As I half expected, he didn’t bulge. He just feigned not to have heard. Okay, is if this is your game, it’s one two could play. I stepped closer and said to him in English,  Mister, this is my seat. Please, move away.  His response was in the local language, Luxembourgish. He said I "Dir sidd net letzebuergerin”! (You are not Luxembourgish! Oh yeah?)

Ma yo ech sinn... Souwisou dat ass egal... I said. Which means, I will not lose my time on such stupidity.  So, I took another seat, next to what I considered  the one that was originally mine. 

You would imagine it ended there. You’re wrong if you do. What next does he do? This fellow begins to complain loudly, in hush nasty guttural tone. Murmurs, invectives, profanities, hurled my way. It isn’t ver yet. He sticks his hands out sideways, and starts pushing me, trying to topple me over. He was aggressive, he was violent. It was rowdy, and those in the hall looked on in shock. Thrice, the guard came and left, in an effort to pacify this visibly enraged fellow. He would not be pacified. 

In the meantime, he called the library officials by their names ."Nicolas" "Pascal"... This is fucking nepotism ...You do not know the individual you’re dealing with this time .... " your friend there, was aggressive towards me ... kent (no) stress ... I'm waiting for the police, call them “ On an on he went. 

After the guard intervened the second time, an employee of the library came to me. He wished to know what exactly was amiss, since we had different seats. NO, I said to him. Today Sir, it seems I am Rosa Parks! 

Library, 4 pm.  A quarter of an hour later,  I have my seat back. It was the unruly Mister, who was told to move away. The director of the Library complex came down personally, and intervened.  Though, not before some gentleman arrived with the introduction, “I am white, but not racist”. And then, he said, “You can have my seat”. His seat was else where in the library.

A short-lived Rosa Parks experience, it was. Yet, it still seems strange to me that nothing (“Nada tchi! Niet walou!) happened until the Mr. Director’s arrival

As I poured over my student’s manuscripts, I reflected. The very first scripts. “A comparison, radio vis-a-vis the world wide web (www); effective instruments of propaganda since Paul Joseph Goebbels”. She traces the progress “we have made”, in communication science since the days of the “Third Reich”. 
Given my current state of mind, right there, I could not but agree.


Linda Saadaoui
Dr. en Sciences de l'Information et de la Communication

Co-présidente AMEDDIAS  Luxembourg - Réseau de Recherche sur les Médias 
Partenaire UNESCO - Pratiques émergentes des technologies et communication pour le développement


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