So late Saturday night I was coming home from a night out in NYC and witnessed a fight break out on the subway. I didn’t see the start but apparently an Indian guy called a black girl a nigger. If it was just out of the blue or provoked or what, I don’t know. Now I understand how offensive an insult that is and that it simply should not be considered acceptable in modern society, but that does not justify the behavior that followed.
The girl who was insulted started yelling very loudly, over and over that “I ain’t no nigga”, “you wanna see a nigga I’m gonna show you what a nigga do” and similar phrases. This drew everyone’s attention to the situation and made people angry and think lowly of the girl who was originally insulted. It started with her and her friend trying to physically assault the guy, following him when he moved away to sit down, spitting on him and various other attacks. Throughout all of this the guy was not provoking her and just trying to move away and end the confrontation.
As offensive as that insults may be acting in such a fashion only makes things worse. Acting so gives the original person who said it and people who may use it in the future ammunition. Even people who would never use the word will now be looking at the victim as the offender, rather than the offended. As hard as it may be to simply ignore such an insult, it is the correct action to take. There were several other black people on the train who surely would have found the insult just as insulting, yet instead of taking any violent action against the offender or making a spectacle of himself they chose to ignore him.
The night ended with most people having forgotten the original person who said the insult if they saw it at all, with most people seeing this black girl saying the word nigger over and over and acting violently against this Indian guy. This went on for about 5 stops until she reached her stop, where she had to be escorted away by police as she was preventing the train from going. The point is that it is better to ignore such insults. Acting below the common standard of decency only gives such words more power, and empowers the people who use them. As hard as it may be, ignoring such behavior is the correct approach. People who use such words are generally below the people they insult and thus don’t deserve the benefit of acknowledgment.