Recently a video depicting a fight between two young Black commuters and an older White passenger on a New York City subway went viral. Although altercations on public transportation happen every day, this one seemed to touch a nerve.
The video, which was reportedly shot in Brooklyn, begins in the middle of a brewing conflict. Although it is unclear what happened immediately before the women began shooting verbal jabs at one another, one thing is clear: The conflict kicked into overdrive when a White passenger called one of the young Black commuters an “animal.”
After an older White woman observes one of the young Black women eating she scoffs, “What kind of animals eat on the train?”
Predictably, this sets the two young women off. No one wants to be called an “animal,” but when this insult is hurled at an individual of color from a White person, it becomes that much more loaded.
After the White woman calls the women “animals,” “pigs,” and “idiots” for eating on the subway (which isn’t illegal, by the way), they begin to let off a series of insults calling her a “bitch” and commenting about her weight.
When the two women stand up, the situation goes from bad to worse. Somewhere between the name-calling and the herky-jerkiness of the train, the women end up bumping into one another and a full-on fight ensues.
On many websites, the comments have mostly centered around the behavior of the young girls. Many focus on their choice to settle their beef with the woman with their fists. However, while the teens should have let the woman’s insults roll off of their backs, the video clearly shows the older woman instigated the situation by calling them “animals” and later pushing one of the girls first (peep the 2:37 mark).
When the confrontation turns physical, a Black man jumps in—presumably to protect the White woman—and breaks up the fight. He goes on to lecture the girls and tell them they need to “chill.” Never mind that they were insulted first, by the looks of the video, many already blamed them for the confrontation.
I agree with writer Jamilah Lemieux when she wondered why no one was willing to defend the girls before things got physical. Had another passenger told the woman to leave them alone or called her out for calling them “animals,” perhaps the entire altercation could have been prevented.
But they didn’t. No one thought to stick up for these young Black girls when they were being disrespected, but many leapt into action during the fight and even scolded the girls for their actions. To me, this speaks volumes about how some view Black women.
Did no one step in to stop the altercation before it got violent because the girls seemed “tough,” and could handle this woman’s hideous remarks? Or did they not step in because defending Black women isn’t that high one most people’s list?
Unfortunately, I’m willing to wager it’s the later. Many have taken literal and metaphorical jabs at Black women for years and the only ones upset have been us. Even though it’s unfortunate no one spoke up for these girls, it isn’t surprising.
So ladies, be careful out there because sometimes we all we got.
What do you think? Does this incident say anything about how Black women are viewed or is it just a stupid situation that got out of control?
Let’s talk about it!