A woman says she and her mother were racially profiled at an art museum in Scotland.
Asqa (@itsxasqa), a Scotland-based creator, says in a video posted last week that she and her mother, who wears a hijab, were racially profiled at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, Scotland. In the video, an employee of the gallery is seen talking with Asqa and her mother about taking photos in the gallery.
“This is not a photoshoot. In fact, there were two other people here with a professional camera, nobody said anything to them. I’m here with a phone,” Asqa is heard saying in her TikTok. “It’s a bit awkward that like you’ve picked on us.”
Asqa then asks the employee if she needed permission to take photos with her phone in the gallery, to which the employee said she didn’t. The TikToker also tells the employee that she made her feel uncomfortable.
“The fact that 2 brown women existing in an art space is enough to cause [an employee] concern really demonstrates her racial bias, and the negative way in which she views brown people,” Asqa wrote in her video’s caption. “GoMA [needs] to educate their staff in order to prevent other people of colour from having to suffer racism.”
On Tuesday, Asqa’s video had almost 815,000 views on TikTok.
@itsxaqsa My mother (a hijabi woman) and I were racially profiled by 2 white members of staff at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow on the 20/12/23. We attended at 11am + were minding our own business taking pics in front of the art. NOBODY approached the area we were standing in. I was not in ANYBODYS WAY. After watching us for a while a woman (Andrea) approached us to tell us off for being in the way of an elderly woman, which we WERE NOT. Following this, another woman (Susie) approached us to tell us off again. She proceeded to tell me that I had to ask for permission to take pictures (THIS IS NOT TRU I CHECKED WITH THE MANAGER). YOU ARE ALLOWED TO TAKE PICS! I told her this and she continued to try and gaslight me into believing I had done something wrong. THERE WERE OTHER PEOPLE THERE WITH A PROFESSIONAL CAM TAKING PICS AND THEY SAID NOTHING TO THEM. THEIR PRO CAM WAS EVEN MAKING SOUNDS!!! She also proceeded to tell us her colleague had passed on ‘concerns’ to her. This is a vile use of language and suggests that us being there was somehow a red flag for her. The fact that 2 brown women existing in an art space is enough to cause her concern really demonstrates her racial bias, and the negative way in which she views brown people. This was an awful experience; another brown woman has also come forward and shared a similar experience with me. GOMA need to educate their staff in order to prevent other people of colour from having to suffer racism and be treated as ‘concerns’ for simply existing. #glasgow #glasgowgoma #galleryofmodernart #glasgowart #glasgowtiktok #scotlandart #scotlandtiktok #glasgowmuseum ♬ original sound – Aqsa
In a follow up TikTok, Asqa asked her TikTok followers to contact the Gallery themselves and complain on her behalf, which many did.
“Whether it’s publicly or in private, it’s important to address every instance and report of racism within an institution such as your own,” someone who had seen Asqa’s video commented on an Instagram post from the Gallery. “Please do not gloss over this issue and respectfully give the two Muslim women who were racially profiled by a member of your staff the respect they deserve.”
In response to the tens of comments it received on its Instagram, the Gallery released a statement about the incident and said that the discussion between the Gallery employee and Asqa “was not, in any way, based on race.”
“We want everyone to feel welcome,” the statement reads. “Part of the visitor assistant role at Glasgow Life is to check with visitors who are filming or photographing for prolonged periods to assess the intended purpose… In this instance, filming at GoMA had reached the point where colleagues felt they should have a discussion with the person recording.”
Many commented on the Gallery’s statement saying it was insufficient; one woman of color shared that she, too, had experienced “biased and unnecessarily probing behavior” from staff.
“It’s crucial not to dismiss [Asqa’s] experience with a seemingly inadequate statement,” she commented. “It appears that significant staff training is needed to address these issues.”
“Susie and Andrea,” the Gallery employees, “CHOSE to pick on me,” Asqa says in a TikTok.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Asqa and the Gallery of Modern Art via email.