caught on camera

Black Graduate Student Records Racist Rant While Walking in New York City

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Kathryn Graves was walking down the street in Manhattan Saturday afternoon when she was met with a racist tirade.

The Black Yale graduate student says she was just walking near 47th Street and Third Avenue, listening to music, when she heard someone yelling. She didn't think anything of it until she stopped her music and realized that a woman was directing racist, anti-Black remarks at her.

The student said the stranger approached her, spewing hate speech, and that's when she started recording the tirade.

"I think I may have gone into shock a little bit, because I have a hard time remembering what my thoughts were other than, 'Make sure you record this and have a plan if it gets physical,'" Graves said.

She says the unidentified woman appeared to get close in the video but things never got physical. "Then she just finished and walked away," she recalled.

After Graves posted the video on social media, which has been viewed more than 150,000 times as of Monday evening, several people have told her that they recognize the woman.

"Multiple people of color have indicated they have had negative interactions with her as well. It appears she may be homeless or housing insecure," Graves said.

But what surprised Graves wasn't the woman's racist rant, but it was the reaction of people around her.

At a time when protests over racial injustice are happening across the city and the world, Graves is looking at the incident and thinking of how many people witnessed the hate and said nothing.

"The passerbys who don’t say anything, that’s more what I reflected on. Racism doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in an ecosystem where it's allowed to thrive, and part of what lets it thrive is when people don’t speak out against it," Graves said.

The student, who lives New Haven, Connecticut, says she's not asking for the woman to be arrested and hasn't filed a police report. But she says she hopes that the video will spark conversations that address racism.

"Being attacked on the street is traumatizing but there are people of color, Black people going through long term trauma right now," Graves said.

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