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"I remember being so angry I cried": Yahya Abdul-Mateen II recalls racism at UC Berkeley

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Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in “Watchmen” – Mark Hill/HBO(LOS ANGELES) — (NOTE LANGUAGE) In a new story in Men’s Health, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II recalled a painful experience dealing with racism while he was a freshman at the University of California Berkeley. 

The Aquaman baddie and Watchmen Emmy nominee contributed his story to the magazine’s report “Race, Racism, and Black Men’s Health.”

“I studied architecture, and … it was common to spend the whole night working in the studio,” Abdul-Mateen explained.  “One night, I left the studio around 1:00 a.m. to go to my dorm and get something to eat, and then I headed back … As I approached the building, there was a woman going inside, just a couple steps ahead of me.”

The woman reportedly told him, “’Stop, you don’t belong here'” the actor recalled. “I said, ‘What are you talking about? I’m going to the studio. I’m going to the same place as you.'”

He recalled reaching for his student ID when the woman told him, “‘I’m gonna call the police and tell them that you’re trying to rape me.'”

As Abdul-Mateen II tried to enter the building, “she began running and screaming at the top of her lungs.” He said campus security responded, but “apologized and left,” after speaking with him.

Abdul-Mateen writes, “I remember being so angry that I cried. It was frustrating. I deserved to be there. Period. That was my reminder that even if I did everything right … some things in life would be unavoidable. Because I was black. I was 18 years old. I did the only thing I knew to do. I cried, and I swallowed that s***.”

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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