Yesterday two racially-charged moments floated up to national attention. They involve Black people and white people (again), and I would like to discuss both situations a little bit. Warning: They aren’t pretty, but be brave and read-on. The names Keyon Harrold & Twisted Tea are (sadly) in the zeitgeist of racial tensions in America now.
Keyon Harrold: It Is Not Her Phone
The first one I want to bring up involves a woman at a hotel (who wasn’t even a guest at the hotel) and a Black man at his son. I will let you watch the video first (it’s quick)…
It’s worth repeating from the video’s caption: “[H]er phone was magically returned by an Uber driver a few minutes after this incident. No apology from her… No apologies from the establishment.” (The hotel has since released a statement and reached out to Mr. Harrold)
Ok – now let’s throw in these little bits of info:
…Yeah. The Black man in this situation is actually “a somebody”. He has worked with names that this lady (whose name isn’t known as of this posting) has probably only ever heard of or listened to. Put bluntly, this isn’t going to end well for her. At least not for now. Right now Mr. Harrold isn’t just an angry Black person, but he’s an angry parent (and in that case – I don’t think his race matters at all).
I hope she’s lawyered up.
Anyway, what I’d like to discuss with this one is 1) Why this is considered “racially-charged in the first place” (because I feel like some people will need it a little spelled out, and that’s ok), and 2) How this lady might have been able to handle this a little differently and not ended up in the news with the dreaded 2020 label of ‘Karen’ (it existed way before then, but let’s keep it in the context of when non-Black people found out about it).
Why is this one “racially-charged”?
Historically-speaking in the U.S. – there is a certain anecdotal truism among Black people: “This wouldn’t have happened if [insert person or group] were white.” True or not, there are optics and behaviors rooted in a collective past that automatically make this one “true” (again, factually or not) for a specific group (and almost anyone who is intimately familiar with that group – because they’ve seen or heard about it). What makes this landmine particularly hard to get by or prove in either a court of public opinion or “the law of the land” is that you really never know if said accusation is true because we can’t play out alternate realities.
PLEASE NOTE the masks and gloves. This isn’t some incident long ago. This is in 2020.
One has to wonder aloud, “Would this situation have even happened if Mr. Harrold and his son were white? Would they have even had to deal with the public indignation of this woman approaching them with baseless claims in this way (with impunity) and also being reinforced by the hotel manager?” I know there will be some who happen across this or look at that string of logic and write it off as being something that’s all in a person’s head. But… respectfully… If you’re white, you will never likely understand this narrative and shared experience while living in America because it will not happen to you.
IMAGINE if the roles were reversed.
Imagine if a black man did this to a white woman.
Seriously. Think about that.
This is a reality of a certain non-white existence in the U.S. that there is literally no way of PROVING to anyone aside from walking around with a Go-Pro live-streaming your entire life constantly. Ironically, The fact that the insistence of the existence of such a reality is questioned somewhat acts as another example of it. Case in point – people will question these things actually happening or being racially-motivated, but will oftentimes – as in this situation – not question any claims brought up by a white person (especially a white woman). There is a whole history there that I won’t even get into for this post, but let’s just say it can have dangerous results.
I will move on to the next point because eventually, you just start talking circles about things like this. And I’d close with suggesting that, maybe, you do your research if you don’t think what I’ve described isn’t real or actually true for many non-white people who live in America. You could probably just ask a few non-white or Black people you know about this subject and hear more than a few stories (but, don’t just blindly go out and do that without considering your audience or who you’re asking – haha – it annoys some people having to explain their experiences & this year Black people have been doing it constantly).
What Could She Have Done Differently?
This is one thing that I hate about getting clips of a situation presented to me — supposition. But, let’s assume that rather than “go directly to the hotel manager and ask if anyone had found a phone that she potentially left there a few days ago while staying there” (which would have been good), she “walked in – saw a kid with a phone – and immediately began screaming at him like a lunatic with no proof whatsoever” (which is bad).
Had she handled this in ANY way that wouldn’t have been a direct accusation pointed at a culprit who she really didn’t know – this may have gone better than how this is going to likely end up for her. I also would love to hear her explanation for why she so adamantly believed that this particular person had her phone in the face of it being a mass-produced product.
Ok, onto the next one.
Twisted Tea: The Smack Heard ‘Round The Web
Moral of the Story:
Do not call people racial epithets or slurs. Especially to their face. Especially total strangers you don’t know. You may come across the wrong one and find yourself on the receiving end of a humiliating or dangerous circumstance as a result.
To be honest, I haven’t read any articles about this one because the video speaks volumes. I felt that smack in my soul (and I may or may not have applauded), and I could tell the guy who smacked the racist was pushed to the brink of his patience.
When something like this happens in public and no one tries to assist the person being smacked, there’s a sort of “He had that one coming” element to the situation. There’s also likely a bunch of people in the room who agree with what happened.
Haha – oddly enough, I’ve been in a situation VERY similar to this. In 8th grade a white boy (who I had considered my friend) stood in my face and repeatedly, angrily, called me the n-word in front of his new white friends (they had literally just become friends — makes me wonder what influenced his decision). There were 4 of them, and I was alone. He kept yelling the word over and over with no other words in between the repetition. I told him to stop and warned him he should back-up. And I will never forget what happened next.
He laughed confidently. Looked back at his friends. Looked back at me. Smirked and then said it one more time.
I don’t know if the natural reaction is to smack someone who does this to you, but something in me snapped. I didn’t punch him. I smacked the hell out of him in front of his friends. I mean I put my back into that slap! And then I just stood there. I didn’t touch him. Right after the first slap, I said to him, “Say it again.” With fading confidence he tried to get it out again — I smacked him again mid-sentence hard enough that he just stopped and started to cry.
I then looked at his friends. They stood there silently; their smiles and laughs turned to nothing but staring at their feet and at the sky.
And then I walked away.
Most people I know would describe me as a nice and caring person (I think) who can be logical to a fault, so I really need you to consider what it takes to push a person to the point that the man in the video was pushed to, and that I was pushed to in 8th grade. He was trying to restrain himself, but that word. Man, that word.
I wanted to bring these up to people because I feel like they’re topics of conversation that won’t really cross racial groups, so I’m hoping that my non-Black readers see this and it makes them aware and not afraid to see this and discuss. I also feel like some people may need the context and for someone outside of their non-Black circle to break some things down for them socially. AND THAT’S OK!!!
I want to normalize talking about social issues as a group and calling out ugly moments like this for what they are: Bad things that didn’t have to happen, and likely wouldn’t happen if there was no “racial-tinge” there to begin with.
Say what you will about how people reacted in the videos. Talk about the violence of the smack, etc.
I stand by, “Had the initiating party not done what they did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!