Woman sacked from her job after shocking ‘I’m white and hot’ rant at two black women
According to a study by the The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, at California State University, police reported a 12.5 per cent increase in hate crimes in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego and San Jose, California in 2017. Worryingly, racism appears to be the most common factor in these felonies, as the FBI's most recent stats on hate crimes note that 58.5 per cent are racially-motivated.
A hate crime is officially defined by the FBI as: "a traditional offence like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a 'criminal offence against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity."
Perhaps too, such incidents are far more visible and more likely to be reported than in the past. Social media has a part to play in this - and the universal prevalence of smartphones and cameras mean that hate crime victims can now record the evidence of the abuse and bullying they suffer and then share it on social networks.
This week, a shocking video of a woman's racist rant has gone viral, after she began harassing and verbally berating two African-American women in Charlotte, North Carolina. Sisters Leisa and Chele Garris were apparently accosted by a woman named Susan Westwood in the parking lot of the Camden Fairview apartment complex.
The Garris sisters had been stranded in the parking lot due to a car breakdown and were waiting on assistance from the automobile association. Westwood reportedly approached them out of nowhere, and began angrily berating them, shouting: "is your baby daddy here?" and asked them: "Do I need to bring out my concealed weapon, too? This is North Carolina by the way," among other epithets.
Chele and Leisa recorded the incident and uploaded the offensive video to Facebook, captioning the post: "MOUTH DROPPING VIDEOS…Never thought this would happen to my sister and I right here in Charlotte, NC [sic]." The women also dialled 911 when they were threatened, and local police have stated that they are investigating the incident and that Westwood faces charges of threatening behaviour and assault.
Westwood has also since been fired from her $125,000-a-year job at cable company Spectrum Enterprise. Company spokesperson Patrick Paterno stated: "The incident recorded in Charlotte is a blatant violation of Charter’s code of conduct and clearly disregards the company’s commitment to inclusion and respectful behaviour. As such, Ms Westwood’s employment with the company has been terminated, effective immediately."
Meanwhile, the unfortunate victims stated: "It’s so upsetting to know that today we have overt racism still going on in 2018 ... We are distraught and still very upset about what has taken place only because of the colour of our skin."