Did you hear the one about the African American guy standing in a priority boarding line at the airport who got told to get out of the way by a white lady who assumed he a) either got in the wrong line, and hence was standing in the way of rich people who deserve to be there, or b) must be there because he’s military and should still get out of the way because, again, he was in the way of people who actually paid to be there..?
No? Sorry, this one doesn’t have a punchline. It’s just another story of a viral post that turned the internet into a torch-bearing mob.
The guy’s name was Emmit Eclass Walker. He’s a music industry executive. I don’t know what the white woman’s name was, but I do know that she became the recipient of a dump-truck load of internet scorn, derision and hate speech after Walker posted a photo of her onto Facebook.
From that post, which showed him in front of a white woman who was pointed out with a drawn-in red arrow:
Her: excuse me i believe you may be in the wrong place you need to let us thru. This line is for priority boarding
Me: priority meaning first class correct?
Her: Yes…now excuse me they will call y’all after we board
Me: *shove first class priority boarding pass in her face* you can relax ma’am I’m in the right spot, been here longer, so you can board after me
Her: *still won’t let It go* he must be military or something, but we paid for our seats so he still should have to wait
Me: nope to big to ever be in anybodies military. I’m just a ni**a with money 💰
Everybody waiting in line: starts to clap lmao 😂
Walker must have felt great, right? As of Monday afternoon, his post had been shared 265,959 times. It had 160 comments, in which the woman was insulted every which way from here to Sunday.
“Ignoramus.” “[Dyed] and fried blonde hair.” “Hahahahahahahahahahaha Got eemmmmmm.” “you white WITCH!!!” “White privilege is something else!!!!! Smh! I’m glad you stood your ground!”
And from there, the “conversation” continued to spiral.
GIFs about people righteously clapping. Jeering. One commenter received racist hate speech in their inbox.
And it spiraled.
Another Facebook user claimed that Facebook removed their comment on “the stupid ignorant Caucasian.” (They would; such is considered hate speech and is thus against Facebook’s Community Standards).
It turned and turned in the widening gyre, to paraphrase Yeats, until the falcon could no longer hear the falconer. Things fell apart. The center couldn’t hold. A woman’s misperception – call it informed by white privilege, call it rudeness, call it a faux pas – had exploded into rage and vindictiveness.
It didn’t feel great. Maybe Walker felt vindicated at first, but not after the post went viral and spiraled out of control.
It had gotten so far out of hand that on Friday, Walker posted an apology on Instagram, even though he was the one who’d initially been wronged.
When i posted that post on Facebook i didn’t expect all that to come from it. I can honestly name the four or five people i thought would comment with something funny, and that will be it. This racist stuff is definitely a issue but this is not the solution to that issue. It brings me no joy waking up in paradise to for my 37 bday and knowing that woman might be going threw hell. The story was definitely real, just like this issue is definitely real, but i now know that I myself should of handled it another way, or left it how it was, and not shared It publicly. When dealing with people i always try to stay on the side of Right, so to make sure I never do anybody wrong, I try to always put myself in that persons shoes, and ask how would I feel if that person did this to me, and if I was her this morning i would be a total wreak today, and that doesn’t help this situation, or her…it only makes them more angry, and bring more drama…SO I WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGIZE AGAIN TO THE WOMAN I HAD THIS ENCOUNTER WITH YESTERDAY. NO MATTER HOW WRONG YOUR ACTIONS YOU DON’T DESERVE THIS … I BELIEVE IF YOU CAN’T HELP NOBODY AT THE VERY LEAST YOU SHOULD NEVER DO ANYTHING TO HURT THEM
As you can clearly see by reading the comments to his Instagram post, Mr. Walker is a bigger hero for this apology, and the humility and compassion it demonstrates, than he was for his initial “put-her-in-her-place!” post.
Of course what this woman did was wrong. But we also need to be aware of the power that can be unleashed when we publicly ridicule people on social media. It’s a violent power that never seems to leave anything in its wake except damage.
Thank you, Mr. Walker, for showing us that we can all rethink, and walk back, our more vindictive first impulses.
19 comments on “Man apologizes after photo of ‘racist’ woman goes viral”
Enjoyed The Second Coming prarphrase, Yeats no longer gets the attention he deserves.
I thought this was a security blog? Please keep it that way. I don’t need my security vendor telling me to check my white privilege.
“We need to be aware of white privilege.” Only if you are a snowflake SJW.
I read your nakedsecurity posts for their insights on security issues, not on your opinions about social justice. Please stick to what you know best.
Need to be aware of white privilege? Sure, just as much as black people should be aware of black baggage. Keep your championing of BS causes to yourself. How is this InfoSec related again?
“We need to be aware of white privilege.”
With that one dumb comment by the author, Sophos just lost my corporate account. I will look for another solution.
I reviewed the story multiple times. You have mistaken a quote from the comments on his FB post for the Lisa’s. Either you were to wound up to notice who said what, weren’t paying attention, or are just trolling. Either way, your comment is inaccurate.
Someone removed this paragraph. It used to be before the last paragraph:
“We need to be aware of white privilege. But we also need to be aware of the power that can be unleashed when we publicly ridicule people on social media. It’s a violent power that never seems to leave anything in its wake expect damage.”
I kept a screenshot.
okay, then I am glad you called it out.
The saddest aspect to this story is that he assumed racism with no evidence of it. It would have been a valid complaint if he had posted about her elitism, which is something many of us have experienced, regardless of our skin tone.
But once he put it out there, perhaps the saddest aspect is the same old story of how social media turns virtually everything into a steaming pile of barnyard muck.
To your first paragraph: Thank you.
To your second: Yes, yes, yes – Social media really is the ghetto of the internet.
To Sophos: This story does not belong on this site in the same way as intelligent stories do not belong on social media.
The only racist comments I can see are those in facebook against the elitist woman, and those written by the author of this post against white people by treating them all as racist.
How the hell is this security or any thing related to it? This is one of the worst reports ever put out by this site.
For those that missed (what I think) is the tech point of this story is: How a simple post of a comment that was meant for a couple friends can go beyond it’s intended reaches and escalate to death threats and maybe worse. That the poster has the hind site recognize the lack of security setting on his post would put people in danger beyond the scope of reason for the situation, but the damage is done, and most of the people that thrive on anger will not see that part.
Personally I think if he had a suit on she would never have spoken up, at the same time, she was completely wrong to open her mouth. Was she brought up sheltered, maybe, is that an excuse no. It does show the initial victim showing compassion for accidently bringing more wrath upon her than is fitting the situation. His final response, and understanding show courage and responsibility of his own actions in the IT media. Something my president could use a little more of.
Just going to say: Keep posting things like this. There are plenty of NS readers who enjoy this kind of content and think the majority of commenters on this post are daft.
Ignorant people saying this has nothing to do with security dont know what security is. This is actually very relevant to cyber security, and is a rather good point being made.
Social security is more than a number!
It is sad Lisa isn’t it.
As a black man in the IT World I have to say this dude had nothing to apologize about. For those claiming this was her being an elitist, I have to say this. If dude was white wearing the exact same outfit looking the same way would she have said the same thing? His black skin automatically triggered it in her brain that he must not be able to afford the first class tickets that he has. To deny she was being racist is to accepting you’re being ignorant on purpose.