Kathryn Graves was simply minding her own business when a random White woman verbally assaulted her. She has since contacted the NYPD.
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of racism, racial slurs, and verbal assault that readers may find disturbing
Yale Ph.D. student Kathryn Graves was minding her own business while walking through Midtown Manhattan. She was wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt. At one point, a white woman walking towards her spotted her and was immediately enraged by her t-shirt. The woman went on to verbally assault the 27-year-old student, calling her racist slurs and throwing other terrible insults her way, The New York Post reports. Graves managed to record the incident to her phone and upload it to Instagram, where it went viral.
In the video (which is quite upsetting), the woman can be seen and heard using the N-word and calling the student and Michelle Obama "apes," an insult that has historically been used to offend Black folks. Graves wrote in the caption, "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 asked for the video to be shared in order to raise awareness about the horrible ways Black people are treated every single day.
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
Graves, who is studying Psychology at Yale, told The New York Post, "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."
CW: Profanity and racial epithets— Megha Chawla (@MeghaChawla) June 20, 2020
Twitter: Can we find this woman who just harassed my friend who was walking down the street in #NYC wearing a #BLM T-shirt and had her headphones on?? There need to be consequences! Please RT! pic.twitter.com/ogNCeVyEmz
The student was especially disheartened by the fact that absolutely no one around the pair 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 affirmed, "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 so no one else has to be a victim of this woman's verbal assault.
She suggested that the woman may have been homeless, but did explain that someone's living situation or mental health issues do 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."