Digging Deeper: Dealing with racism in person and online

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ASHEVILLE, N.C (WNCN) – As protests against systemic racism continue across the country, viral videos showing intense verbal arguments are taking over social media. 

Shawn Johnson captured the video that shows a white woman shouting racial slurs at a black family in downtown Asheville, NC.  ​CBS 17’s Randi Ayala talked with Aisha Sabur, the woman on the receiving end of this rant. ​​

“I just hear this piercing voice saying excuse me n***** excuse me n***** excuse me n***** behind me, so I confronted her and I said what did you say?​​ So she kept screaming and she said ‘I dare you to hit me, hit me and I’ll call the cops, hit me n***** and you’ll go to jail,’ ” said Sabur.  ​That’s the part you don’t see on camera. Aisha says she and her family were on their way to grab a bite to eat when the woman started  antagonizing her. Moments later Black Lives Matter protesters stepped in to deescalate the situation. ​​”In that moment I was enraged, I was upset, but I also was very aware as a person of color in America​​​​,” said Sabur. 

Right now Americans are fighting against two crises.  ​​

“It’s so unique that we have a pandemic and then all of these of racial issues coming to light on top of the global pandemic, it’s just an unbelievable stress on people​​,” said Dr. Kristen Wynns, a psychologist with Wynns Family Psychology. 

We’re beginning to see that stress boil over. In Pittsboro,  a counter-protestor can be seen attacking a man with a hockey stick. Dr. Wynns says to have a plan in place in case you find a yourself in a situation like this. ​​​”Would I want to jump in to help victims, would I want to call police, would I want to record to get it documented​​?”

She says there’s no cookie cutter approach to mitigate these situations and you should approach every scenario with caution. ​​​

“You just have to look at the situation and weigh out if you intervening is going to help deescalate or if it would possibly add more safety concerns or tension​​​​,” said Dr. Wynns. 

Sabur says this is one of those moments that her and her family will remember for the rest of their lives.

The pain from this kind of encounter can be wide spread and long lasting.

“Her family, or protesters defending her, or even people who watch the video, they can all be traumatized depending on their own unique stories…it could take you a while to recover​​,” said Dr. Wynns. 

Something that might hold true for Aisha. “It’s going to build a few more walls up than I had before,​​ I definitely think I’m going to be a little more cautious and a little more observant.”

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