Torrance, California in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County became known as one of the birthplaces of surf culture in America — despite the fact that a relatively small portion of the city actually borders the coastline. However, one of the other notable things about Torrance is its large percentage of citizens of Asian descent.
With an Asian population of 34% — only 6 points lower than the majority Caucasian population — Torrance has one of the highest proportions of Asian-American residents of any city in the state, and, in fact, in the United States, with the largest concentration of residents of Japanese ancestry of any city in the country outside of Honolulu.
Given the ubiquitousness of Asian-Americans in Torrance, it’s somewhat shocking to hear about the latest incident of blatant racism captured on video in the city.
The story begins when one city resident decided to go to the local park for some exercise. As part of her routine, the female jogger decided to up the aerobic output of her workout by running up and down a staircase in the park.
This was apparently seen as an affront by an elderly white woman in the park who approached the jogger and admonished her for monopolizing the stairs.
While the beginnings of the encounter were not captured on video, the older woman’s demeanor was hostile enough that the jogger began recording their interaction.
“We don’t play games here anymore,” the elderly woman declares in the video. “Next time you ever talk to me like that you’re going to get your ass kicked by my family. They’re going to f*ck you up!”
Although we have no record of what the jogger trying to get her workout said to the old woman prior to the start of the video, she was obviously perplexed by the vehemence with which the old woman was attacking her.
“What did I do?”, she asked the incensed lady who was in full crank mode.
“Because you are an assh*le! You took the whole stairs to yourself!” the elderly woman shouts.
When the jogger points out that the park has several other sets of stairs that could be used with plenty of room to spare instead of the ones the woman was arguing about, the unplacated woman set off on another tirade.
“Why can’t you go somewhere else where you can go to a gym?” she asks, although that was not an option under the current COVID-19 restrictions in California. “This is not just for you! Get the f*ck out of this world! Get the f*ck out of this state! Go back to whatever f*cking Asian country you belong in,” she screamed, venturing beyond personal animosity to outright racist sentiment.
“This is not your place! This is not your home! We do not want you here!”, the woman continued to shout, without specifying exactly who the “we” she was refering to was.
If only a Native American were nearby to lecture this bigoted woman about the concept of returning to the “country you belong in,” perhaps we wouldn’t need to be writing this story.
This display of white entitlement and privilege — even in a city with a large and long-standing minority population of Asians, Asian-Americans, and Hispanics — seems to have been transported from an era closer to the time of the elderly woman’s birth rather than being something taking place in the 21st-century America.
This is, however, a time in which the president of the United States sets an example of intolerance, nationalism, and, yes, racism to inspire the tone of public discourse and to give people with latent racist thoughts the permission to express that which they may have wisely kept to themselves previously.
You can watch the recorded parts of the encounter in the video attached to the tweet below and, while watching, think about a future wherein no one feels like they can make such public displays of racial animosity without an immediate shower of societal recriminations raining down on them.
Original reporting by Sarah K. Burris at RawStory.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.