The 23-year-old, who was born in Liberia, west Africa, said strangers sent her nasty messages calling her “the N-word” and likening her to animals, and sadly it “became a norm” as the weeks passed.
“It took me a while to process what happened to me after appearing on Love Island Australia,” Cynthia told HuffPost Australia.
“Before appearing on the show I was always aware of racism,” she said, but given her “friendship circle was extremely diverse and open-minded”, she’d hoped Australia would embrace her.
“I came off the show to find my inbox filled with people calling me the N-word, or for my family and friends defending me online as trolls tried to take me down,” she explained.
“Why? Because I was a Black woman who had appeared on a predominantly white television show. The racial slurs and insults that flooded Facebook and Instagram became a norm to see.”
After moving to Australia at age seven from Liberia, Cynthia grew up in Queensland and went on to pursue a modelling career before ‘Love Island’. She was the first Black contestant to appear on the Australian version of the show.
“It took me a while to process that the Australia that I had grown up in had underlying prejudice,” she said.
“It’s hard to formulate because I always knew racism was here but I didn’t realise how bad it was until I went onto the show.
“It went as far as someone making an Instagram page, comparing me to a black cow. I had to report the page and it was later on taken down.”
In recent weeks there have been more open conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by the death last month of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
“Because of the Black Lives Matter movement, I finally feel safe to talk about racism and the unjust prejudice many people of colour experience,” said Cynthia.
“I can’t count the amount of times I’ve cried and just let myself feel the pain during the past two weeks. But I have to remind myself that so many people of colour are experiencing the exact same thing.”
As more people continue to share their stories, Cynthia is hopeful of seeing gradual change.
“I do not think racism will be abolished in my lifetime, but I think the world is becoming more aware. I’m proud to be black and I’ve finally found my voice again.”