Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Racism and the Subway Spaghetti Incident

by Joanna

OK, I saw this video about a week ago, and I wanted to address it back then, but I decided not to, because I did not want to make any assumptions. My first thought was that the white woman who was verbally attacking the Black woman for eating on the subway train was a racist, particularly because she referred to the Black woman as an "animal", which is fairly often used as a racist epithet. I automatically thought that if this woman had encountered a young white woman eating on the subway, she would have either politely asked her to stop, or she would have ignored it completely. Since I am not usually one to shy away from saying what I think, particularly as it relates to racism, I am not sure why it took me so long to respond to this video. But, after reading this post from another blogger about the video, I decided to address it myself.

So, I went back to the youtube page where I originally saw the video and watched it once again. And, I read some of the comments related to the incident. And, I was not surprised to see how much racist vitriol was written.

The young woman in the video was being verbally abused and bullied by the older white woman. Yet the majority of comments are attacking the young woman. And almost all of them are based on race, and the perceived negative characteristics of Black women. Hardly anyone recognized the fact that the older woman initiated the incident. That she is the one who pushed the younger woman first. That she kept verbally attacking the young woman, poking and prodding at her psychologically until she simply could not take it anymore. The entire comment section was turning the young woman who was the victim of bullying (most likely based on racism) into the bad guy.

Think about it. Imagine if the roles were reversed. Imagine if a middle aged Black woman was verbally assaulting to young white women for eating on the subway. Imagine if she pushed one of those young women. I would be willing to bet that the comments on the video would be very different. She would be seen as a bully and an instigator, and the young white women would be seen as innocent victims simply defending themselves from her attack. But, of course, since the young women were Black and the older woman was white, the discourse evolved in a way that made HER into the victim.

There was no reason for this woman to attack the young ladies the way that she did. She was being a bully towards two young ladies who were minding their own business. Was there really any reason for her to call them "animals" because of some damn spaghetti?? But, this woman felt that it was OK for her to be a bully, that she was the one who was correct, simply because the color of her skin has given her a sense of privilege and correctness.

And, as usual, the people on the internet have rallied to the side of the person who was in the wrong, simply because she was a white woman. It is amazing to me that 99% of the white people I come across claim that racism is dead, yet a good 90% of comments I see online addressing incidents involving Black people are filled with racist invective. It seems like racism is OK, as long as you spew it from behind the anonymity of your computer screen.


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