Student Kathryn Graves was just minding her own business when a random woman verbally assaulted her calling her the N-word and an ape.
Trigger Warning: This story has details of racism that readers may find disturbing
A black college student who was walking through Midtown Manhattan was verbally abused by an unidentified white woman. 27-year-old and Yale Ph.D. student Kathryn Graves was wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt when a white woman walked up to her and started abusing her with racial slurs, the New York Post reports. Graves managed to record this vile incident on her phone before uploading it onto her Instagram where it went viral. The white woman calls her the N-word and an ape and made monkey-like noises. The white woman, clutching a carton of beer in her hand also said, "What’s the matter, you got time to do your f—ing pink a– f—ing hair, you n—er Obama f—ing ape," before turning to cross the road. In the caption on her Instagram post, Graves wrote: So this just happened to me... In NYC of all places... For context, I was walking down the street with my headphones in and a BLM shirt on and didn’t even realize she was yelling at me until I stopped my music. I silently recorded up to the very end. She also asked people to share the video to raise awareness as to how Black people are horrendously treated on an everyday basis.
Graves said, "I kind of blocked off how hurtful the words were and more was just thinking pragmatically. Before I even started to emotionally process what was going on, I just knew I had to record it [and] try and figure out what to do if she tries to attack me." She explained that she did absolutely nothing to provoke the White woman. "I recorded her and she just went off... There was nothing on my end that preempted this, other than me being there," the 27-year-old said. "I have never [before] had someone just spew hatred in my face."
I hope this lousy creature is identified. Someone out there must know who she is. My sympathies to Kat Graves, who is the victim of this racist abuse. pic.twitter.com/ZZj5hxJZrN— Sean #BlackLivesMatter (@SeanFlan45) June 21, 2020
It was disheartening to see that she was subject to such blatant racism, and maybe what was even more disappointing was that no one around wanted to intervene. Graves stated, "She was speaking pretty loudly, it was very clear what she was saying, and the idea that... No one felt the need to intervene at all—that really bothers me a lot." She said that this is exactly why it's not enough to just not be racist. Bystanders—especially those are White–must actively step in when a situation like this happens." She noted, "You must be actively anti-racist — it’s not enough to just not be racist." Graves has since sent the video to the New York Police Department and has been in touch with officers along with another potential victim who faced this same issue with the same white woman.
Graves went on to suggest that it might be possible that the abusive woman may have been homeless, which would explain her rage and attitude in general. But even so, someone's living situation or mental health condition does not excuse racist behavior. "Racism is not a symptom of either of those things," affirmed Graves. Though she does want justice in some form, she is not looking to have the woman "locked up." She simply wants the woman to be able to gain access to mental health treatment as she could still "be a risk to public safety." The student concluded, "If her hands had been empty she could have hit me. It could escalate at some point. If nothing happens, this woman could be dangerous."
I think I know her. She's homeless with untreated mental illness wandering the streets yelling this stuff all hours day and night. First time I encountered her, I called the cops. They know her. Everyone on the LES knows her. It's very sad. People on the street try to help her.— David (@id_epid) June 24, 2020
Graves also had a final update on her situation which she posted on Instagram with the caption that she was tired because it appears that nothing will come out of her being verbally assaulted, and the white woman is likely to go scot-free.