The video, which showed a group of African American teens in the parking lot, and documented one young White Kroger employee being assaulted, has caused a great deal of discussion.
“Look, it’s a terrible thing that happened here, but it really helps me out,” said Memphis resident Rick Rolle. “If nothing else, it’s given me an opportunity to voice my views more freely.”
“Where’s the Black community on this? How come we haven’t heard from Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson or George Washington Carver calling this a hate crime? And let’s not hold our breath waiting for Obama to get involved, because, well, you know why,” Rolle said.
Rolle believes that this incident affords an opportunity for honest dialogue. “For example, after this, I feel comfortable using the word ‘thugs’ to describe young, Black males without any fear of criticism. If this happens again, I’ll feel free to drop straight up racial slurs. So, I’m hoping that works out.”
Others find dialogue more difficult in the wake of this incident. “Well, this is terrible. It’s hard to see a group of young people attack another young person. But let’s not make this a racial issue. I don’t see color at all, so who is to say what race anyone involved in this was? I think you’d have to be a racist to see the clear facts, right?” asked Memphian Jenny Flex. “For all we know there were a dozen kids off screen of a different race — whatever that race may be — from the kids we saw in the video. Right? Right? Besides, that poor young man who got attacked may have been targeted because of any reason in the world. There’s no way to know if race was a factor. Right? Please tell me I’m right.”
Where most people do agree is in criticizing the Kroger employee who took the video of the incident and put it online. “This young woman who took this video should be ashamed,” said Memphian Matt Hatter, as he watched the video for the 24th time. “It’s just a shame.”
Joey Hack is a regular contributor to the Fly on the Wall Blog and is a member of The Wiseguys improv troupe.