On Tuesday, May 16 of this year, I was walking in Toronto. (Don’t worry – it gets better!)
I was heading west, crossing near Spadina Ave. & Baldwin St.. It seemed like a pretty typical day – beautiful, in fact. I’m not too familiar with that area, but have never had any weird experiences there before. The light turns green and I proceed to walk across the (probably) 70-foot crosswalk. A quarter of the way across, I notice an Asian man walking in my direction. He was probably 25-30 years old, 6′, about 160lbs. He looked like a typical guy – nice clothes, shoes, hair. Had a backpack. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary about this cat at all. Suddenly, as if possessed, he points upwards with one hand, and yells: “F*** YOU!! F***ing scum of the earth! Kill all the N******! Kill everyone! F*** You, N*****!”
About 20 feet from each other now, he looks RIGHT at me. Immediately my internal sensors start firing: “WARNING: BE ON ALERT!!!” I was getting flashbacks from when I used to work in Mental Health. I’d seen this sort of behavior many times before, when clients were about to randomly attack you. I knew that if s*it hit the fan, there was no soft talkin’ my way outta’ this one! This man was clearly passive-aggressive, and I wasn’t getting paid to figure out why. Nonetheless, I always try to be on guard and aware of my surroundings when in public (not with my head glued to my stupid smart phone!).
We are about to pass each other, and he is looking more angry. Awesome. His outbursts swiftly turn DIRECTLY towards ME. From about 20′, he shouted at me: “You F***ing White Boy, you piece of S*** SCUM! F*** YOU! Die, White trash – DIE!!” I thought to myself, “Oh please, no. Not today. I just want to walk to my car.” My heart was racing, as you might expect, but I was ready. I may not be related to Chuck Norris, but I’ve lived enough to know that I can hold my own. Honestly, I think I could have just picked this guy up, thrown him to the ground on his head, held him for a minute…maybe throw a knee in there. My hope is that he would get up slowly, in pain, and continue on his sick journey. Seriously, he hurt my feelings – but it kinda’ felt good. Like something I needed, maybe? I’ve never been called “White scum” before – maybe “cracker” – but that’s just lame. “White scum” is pretty emotion-packed. I don’t take pride in that title – it’s just something I don’t experience (or wish to) every day. This madman lightened the tenseness with some humour, though.
Now near my side, about 5′ away, he then adds: “…and PULL UP your f***ing PANTS, white boy!” I literally laughed, because they WERE (unintentionally) riding a lil’ low that day. #plumberbutt Part of me wanted to react, even if just to ask: “What’s your problem, buddy?” But I know any chatting with this nut would lead to something physical. I don’t want any of that, especially in a busy intersection during rush hour. Also, this guy could have a disease or std, and bite me. Across the street, I watched him walking north on Spadina, cursing and hollering again as he trucked along.
Aside from being one of those What-in-the-flyin’-HELL-just-HAPPENED moments, I didn’t know what to think! I looked around to see if anyone else noticed any of this, nope. People in cars, pedestrians, everyone had their head down. People are too busy to notice a guy freakin’ out – racial slurs, fists-a-wavin’ – in public. So sad.
In a city as big as Toronto, I think most feel safe and secure. As they say, there surely is safety in numbers, right?? But when you have such a large number….of numbers, you’re certain to have a few whack-jobs mixed in, for lack of a better word (I could actually think of many nicer, less-fitting words). Did this man have issues with white men? I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. But I think it was more than that. This guy seemed to be mad at the WORLD! He could have some underlying issues, which is why I tend to keep quiet; respectful, y’know? But should he be out in public if he’s a threat?? Who knows. You may never know the motives of another, but you should always be aware of people around you. I have never experienced an Asian person lashing out at me – or ANYONE – like that. It just goes to show that many are full of HATE, regardless of ethnicity. I have said it before, and I will again say it: Racism comes from ignorance and fear. You might think you hate the color of someone’s skin, or the way they dress, or behave. Deep down, I think racists hate themselves, and are frustrated with things that are unfamiliar. Sure, white man has done SOME bad over the centuries, but like the idiom goes – don’t paint everyone with the same brush.