The past few weeks have witnessed, in tandem with the inspiring George Floyd protests pushing for racial justice and an end to police brutality, a stunning wave of viral videos showcasing white people engaged in all manner of inexcusable harassment against people of color. It seems that even as this country makes some long-needed strides towards a more equitable society, there are elements out there intent on maintaining the racist status quo.
The latest video making the rounds comes to us from Wellington, Florida. The Palm Beach Post reports that on Sunday an as-yet-unidentified white man chased a group of teenagers around the neighbor, seemingly infuriated that they were driving a golf cart. 15-year-old Breonna Nelson-Hicks, who is Black, and her grandfather Tony Nelson live in the neighborhood and as such she and her friends had every right to be there.
Mr. Nelson, a member of one of the first Black families to move into the area and a resident for thirty-three years offered some insight to The Palm Beach Post.
“It’s not going away. I can’t let it die. … People aren’t understanding what’s going on,” said Nelson.
The white harasser chased the teenagers in his car as they fled in fear back to the Nelsons’ house. According to the teens, the man tailgated them aggressively, his much larger car bearing down on their cart. Their attempts to pull over to allow the man to pass were ignored, and he persisted in tailing them.
Eventually, the two teenage boys in the group decided it would be safer to disembark and flee on foot. The three remaining girls, two of which are white, continued on to Nelson-Hicks’ house, pursued by the man. As they approached their destination, the angry man began yelling. It was then that Nelson-Hicks knew it was time to start recording the encounter.
With all the entitlement we’ve come to expect from white people engaged in racist behavior, the man told the girls that he didn’t mind having his “picture” taken because “you don’t belong in this development.” One can’t rule out the possibility that the man would not have felt the same way if all of the teens were white.
The man demanded to know Nelson-Hicks’s name, who responded that she lived in the neighborhood. He pushed to know where exactly, and the girls understandably pushed back, unwilling to cave to his unjustified aggression.
“OK, I’m going to call the gate and have you all arrested,” the man said to the girls when they refused to answer his questions, before telling Nelson-Hicks that she did “not deserve to be in here.”
Nelson-Hicks headed towards her house to fetch her grandfather as the white man suddenly began demanding that she bring him out and changing his complaint to claiming that they were “driving illegally”
The girls pointed out how inappropriate it was for a grown man to be bothering teenage girls in such a fashion and he responded in an exceedingly creepy way.
“Because you’re 15 years old? You could marry in Mississippi or Alabama,” he said.
When Nelson-Hicks’s grandfather emerged he confronted the man for threatening the children, at which point the man tried to play innocent. Thankfully, the incident resolved peacefully but no Black person should have to deal with this kind of bigotry. It is imperative that we continue to record and share these encounters until white people learn to start behaving themselves and abandon this kind of horrific behavior.
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