Tram Passenger Arrested for Racial Abuse

December 3, 2011

Political Theory


Warning: Explicit and offensive material contained in video clip.

Clip of the video of Emma West hurling expletive-riddled abuse at fellow tram passengers

Yet again, another video has gone viral.  A bystander,Kelly Hollingsworth, a passenger who was sitting directly opposite of West, filmed a British woman racially abusing a tram-load of passengers on the Croydon-Wimbledon line and posted the video on Youtube under the title “My Tram Experience.”  In addition, the video flitted across onto Twitter and the hashtag #MyTramExperience was created, rapidly trending amid outraged and disgusted responses.

The clip, containing explicit and offensive comments, shows a woman and a child on her lap shouting abuse at passengers.  Specifically, the video footage shows a woman complaining about ethnic minorities living in Britain.  She starts by stating, “What has the country come to?…with loads of black people and a load of fucking Polish.  You ain’t English either.  None of you are fucking English.  Get back to your own fucking, d’you know what?”  At one point the woman tells some passengers they should go back to their own country, saying they’re not British because they are black.  She continues by saying “Sort out your own countries.  Don’t come and do mine.  Britain is nothing now.  Britain is fuck all.”  One of the passengers on the tram asks her to watch her language and racist comments, but the tirade continues.  In addition, the African American gentleman seated behind West is shown trying to hold back from causing any more damage, after West makes a comment about how African Americans should go back to their homeland, Nicaragua.  (Umm… Nicaragua?  Clearly, the lady not only needs to wash out her mouth, but a lesson in geography.)

The British police, too, became aware of the video via YouTube and Twitter and prompted an investigation, establishing the stops between which it occurred.  As a result, the woman has been arrested for allegedly making racist comments to other passengers on a packed tram in London.  The police later identified the lady as, 34-year old, Emma West, of Addington.  She was held in remand after the court was told “there is a serious risk of her being injured in revenge attack by the public” and is scheduled to face court on December 6, 2011.

Image from another racist altercation

This isn’t the first time situations, like this one, have occurred.  Encouraged by the outcry over MyTramExperience, another video

has been given much attention.  The video depicts another woman racially abusing another immigrant, however, this time on a train and not a tram.  And then, believe it or not, there were three.

As disgraceful as these videos are, they serve as a nationwide reminder that unprovoked, unashamed racism still exists whether we want to believe it or not.  However, there have been others who are in favor of West’s actions.  Would you agree with her supporters or are her actions simply unforgiving? Will racism ever be fully removed from society?  What does this trend of videos displaying racial abuse tell us about our world today?

Updated: Removed section dedicated to Tocqueville and added new questions.

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One Comment on “Tram Passenger Arrested for Racial Abuse”

  1. evanhw Says:

    First off, it’s important to recognize the stark difference in civil right’s today as opposed to the 19th century. Although Tocqueville made the statement above, basically reaffirming African Americans inferiority during the time, he was actually making a socially accepted claim. African Americans were discriminated and bound to limited rights as inferior human beings prior to the 20th century, thus Tocqueville held a belief and made claims that were common amongst caucasians during his time. Today we look at his remarks throughout Democracy in America concerning Indians and African Americans as racist and belittling. Emma West made similar statements during a time where racist comments are no longer socially accepted. Rights are currently unanimous amongst races, making the following videos discriminatory and socially distasteful for the average viewer. My point being, Emma West is in the double negative making statements she knows are prejudiced. I don’t think it was right for Tocqueville to make the racist statements he made just because it was socially accepted in the 19th century, but it wasn’t uncommon for someone to hold that belief. If he were to watch those videos, he would probably be more confused why Emma West’s comments are socially unaccepted. Unfortunately, it is hard to believe racism will ever diminish in a world where there will always be conflicting beliefs and opinions.

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