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Angry racist roams Roslindale Square

Courtney Pong, owner of the Rozzie Square Theater on Basile Street, reports what happened today during auditions for the ComedySportz Boston troupe she runs there:

During the middle of the audition, I was standing at the back of the room just observing, when I noticed a woman staring through the window who looked angrily at me when we made eye contact. She started to walk toward the entrance of the theater and I went into the hallway to stop her to see what was up, and she began yelling at me:

“What is this, improv? Shut it down. Are you Michelle Wu? You’re with the Wu train? You’re Asian? Get out of my face. You know what you are. You’re a geisha, or whatever you are. Get out of here. Leave. You know what you are” and she just kept yelling at my face. I tried to ask what she was talking about but she just kept cutting me off and mocking me.

It was disorienting and it altered my state of mind so heavily I lost track of where I was for a split second and my hands went numb. Which is scary.

One team member happened to notice that I went into the hallway and then after realizing what happened, helped lock the doors and keep an eye out and calm me down a bit.

And then go back to doing the job at hand.

There is nothing else to say after this. Recording it because I only share probably every other experience of racist acts I experience in Boston, but I feel isolated and defeated when I keep them to myself.

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Comments

Unhinged/mentally ill is my take

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Voting closed 47

Be strong. It takes are more people to say that this isn't right to shut down these racists. Just know it's better than when I grew up in Hyde Park back in the 70's. Those people are out there and have your back. Also know that nothing you could say would get through to someone like that, so try to float above it all, laugh it off, or if you have some comedic skills, turn the table on her..... Like.... "Gosh, when you get angry like that, you look hot"

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Just an emboldened racist who feels comfortable spewing their disgusting beliefs. You can’t just blame mental illness.

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Voting closed 88

Why not both?

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Empathy is not allowed on certain topics. If you express any empathy towards an individual expressing racism, then you are either racist or complicit in racism.

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Voting closed 15

ascribing racism to mental illness is often the first line of defense against having to consider that normal, well-adjusted people can be bigoted.

cause you know if a normal, well-adjusted person can find herself infuriated by the sight of an Asian woman enough to scream epithets at her through a window, then what am *I* capable of?

TL;DR quit with the persecution complex

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Voting closed 68

"ascribing racism to mental illness is often the first line of defense against having to consider that normal well-adjusted people can be bigoted."

This is correct. As a member of the LGBTQ community I constantly witness a very similar situation wherein every time some boisterous homophobe makes the news, people (both gay and straight, but mostly straight) always and predictably default to the knee jerk "he must be a closeted homosexual himself". It never fails. Ironically, our dear straight supporters and sundry virtue signalers fail to see the inherent homophobia in this belief itself, that a gay man (it's usually a man) must be "repressed" and as a result acts out in a negative and hurtful way (i.e. they are describing something of a mental illness in itself).

The plain fact is that otherwise normal, well-adjusted heterosexual people can be homophobes. And d-bags.

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Voting closed 34

but I'm sure that the "he must be repressed" thing stems partly from decades of Right-wing politicians and religious leaders who, after years of lying about and attempting to suppress gay people, are revealed to be secretly acting out the very behavior they've been fulminating against.

Hateful behavior is hateful, regardless of the mental state of the actor.

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Voting closed 13

I'm sure that the "he must be repressed" thing stems partly from decades of Right-wing politicians and religious leaders who

I believe you mean well, but as a member of the LGBTQ community, when I hear straight people make this comment about closet cases, I feel that they are doing one of two things: repurposing a stigmatized status in a way that they feel they'll get a pass for (i.e., they're playing the old middle school game of "who's the queer?), or, splaining to LGBTQ people about a history that we experienced at first hand. I know about Dennis Hastert, thanks very much, but I doubt the average straight person would recognize the name, which tends to deflate any argument that "I bet he's a closet case" comments are driven by an awareness of right wing homophobes who turned out to be gay. We know about our history, and with few exceptions, they don't. Please, don't try to explain or excuse this reaction. Please just let it go.

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Voting closed 18

Strange choice of word for someone sensitive to bigotry. Knee jerk reaction?

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They are not normal or well adjusted. They are weak minded and have acquired a disease that may not have a cure once it sinks too deep. A person that views anyone else in a negative light due to something that is different from themselves has been brainwashed and cannot be considered normal.
If/when children begin to act like this, under proper supervision, the behavior is corrected and labeled inappropriate. When adults begin to act like this, it may already be too late to correct, they can no longer be considered normal, and they need professional help.
It should absolutely be labeled a mental illness and will hopefully find it’s way into a future DSM. Labeling it does not remove agency from the individual or society, past or present. The term mental illness is only ascribed to something that interferes with daily life and will likely undergo a definition change in the future. There are plenty of mentally ill people out there who have the money to hide or gloss over various mental health issues versus those who have no money and succumb to them. When it comes to racism and bigotry, adults who cannot control hate filled thoughts taking over their brains have a serious mental health problem and we should all be telling them exactly that. They should be made aware that they need to seek professional help immediately.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071634/

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P much

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Voting closed 15

How would acknowledging that a hypothetical person (or supposition about the real person in this story) is both a racist and be afflicted by mental illness be "expressing empathy"?

I don't understand the jump you are making from acknowledging fact/supposition and empathy. If I told you that some hypothetical person was an amputee, it would be a statement of fact, not some sort of display of empathy towards them.

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Voting closed 10

Because it is implying an excuse or an explanation for their behavior, neither of which is appropriate or justified in the situation.

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Making the claim that "They only said those horribly racist things because they are mentally ill" or "Hey, maybe this person is mentally ill so we should withhold judgement on what was described" is excusing them for being a racist. Someone can suffer from mental illness AND be a horrible racist, acknowledging such as a matter of fact, which was the "why not both?" question above, is not an excuse.

Are we all in agreement that the situation described in this story, the conduct of this person, is absolutely racist behavior? If we can agree on that, then we can discuss that they may or may not be suffering from mental illness, or physical illness, or many other characteristics that some may find pertinent to the discussion, whether or not they actually are. All without "expressing empathy" for someone exhibiting racist behavior.

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… reasonable questions. ;)

Thank you.

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than at least 70 million other people in this country.

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Voting closed 13

Mentally ill people can also be racist assholes independently of whatever else is going on.

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Voting closed 30

Sure, we can characterize mental wellness as an ability to control impulses, take others' perspective, and get along with others, which would then mean someone who lacks some of those things is mentally unwell.

But when we say "mental illness," this makes people think of the broader population of people with chronic/persistent psychiatric disabilities. Most folks in this category are not spewing bigotry, or doing any spewing at all; they're working, going to school, raising kids, engaging in hobbies, socializing with friends -- or sitting home reading the paper alone because this is what's meaningful to them. It's hurtful to these folks when we see someone actively harming others and say "oh, they're one of you."

While it isn't technically incorrect, let's just not refer to bigotry as having anything to do with mental illness. We need to focus on how bigotry harms others. No one gets to harm others, regardless of any supposed reason they might do so.

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Voting closed 50

…was the one who tried to break into the Roslindale animal shelter yesterday, tried to assault my boss, accused her of being Chinese, and said Michelle Wu was part of a conspiracy to steal her dog and human rights.

If so, apologies for locking her outside to continue her tirade elsewhere. We did call the cops but it sounds like she gave them the slip.

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Voting closed 49

Just saying she’s been around the block a few times. We have a local guy here in Easton spouting bizarre things, and I believe he’s more on the mental illness spectrum.

Yes, slightly odd to have the local village nut in the country….

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Voting closed 6

Watching all the Richard Hamilton-lookin' North End goons barking at their Instagran followers about Wu is going to spill over into the usual crowd of whackjobs and perpetually aggrieved.

I'm half expecting to see John Birch flyers at the counter next time I grab a morning espresso.

Loud, veiny, and bloated with rage. These tanned bad apples have spoiled the entire bunch. And unless they absolutely demand to go, I rarely tell anyone from out of town to bother with that neighborhood.

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Voting closed 28

Courtney, THIS is what you do...... You own a comedy club, and what do the best comedians of all time (Eddie, Cedric, George, Dave, etc) do about racism?? This is your opportunity to turn this shit around and lay it out on a banquet table to the public with raw comedy!!!)

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This is your opportunity to turn this shit around and lay it out on a banquet table to the public with raw comedy!!!

That might be effective, but it's her choice, and I really doubt she needs anyone telling her "this is what you do, this is how you answer it, this is how you solve it" -- particularly not those who aren't in her situation.

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work racism into her act when white comedians don't have to bother with that?

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If they keep roaming, there should be a photo soon enough. If they keep talking and issue a threat, they should be arrested soon enough. This person will likely not stay silent.

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she was doing street improv?

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Blaming mental illness is the easy way out. It ignores the fact that we as a country elected a president who said the same things. This is not an isolated incident, it is a symptom of a major problem with our country.

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Voting closed 43

Yeah but its clear, he is mentally unwell also.

Every time he speaks now, it sounds like the babbling old person at Shady Pines. Just one endless stream of a sentence. No breaks. No stops. Just a babbling brook of (mostly) incoherent drivel.

The last four years speak volumes to this. He's had a ton of these moments where I wanted to say "Shady Pines, Donald... Shady Pines". Cuz that's where he needs to be.

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Yeah but its clear, he is mentally unwell also.

That's true. It's also irrelevant. You might as well say "...and he likes to wear red ties."

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Mental illness might be part of why she was so loudly and aggressively hateful. But it didn't make her a bigot.

This person chose to yell at an Asian-American and tell her to get out of "here." She chose to approach Ms. Pong and then demand "get out of my face." She chose to insult Mayor Wu for, apparently, existing -- she wasn't screaming about Gov. Baker, or President Biden, or any other white politician.

Being mentally ill, or under stress (as most of us are, after the last two years), or drunk can make it harder to keep your filters on. But even if someone "can't help saying what they think," a racist dropping their filters will say racist things. Someone else is going to stand on the corner telling the world that they're the rightful king of England and were cheated out of their inheritance. Or scream over the phone at a relative they have a grudge against. Or get drunk and tell everyone in the bar "you're wonderful, I love you, I love you too, you're all great..."

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Ever hear of delusions?

Yes... intrusive and often negative thoughts normally not present and hallucinations are part of it.

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As a clinician, I'm quite familiar with psychosis.

Most people experiencing it don't harm others.

It also doesn't often result in paranoia that's a complete 180 from one's pre-prodrome mental constitution. Everything psychotic folks say and do is based on past knowledge and life experience, just as it is with everyone. This is why you get very different patterns of psychotic behavior dependent on culture (and including the broader definition so as to encompass subculture and experiences such as military culture, queer culture, etc.). We don't see psychotic people in white America fixating on blood type or caste or left-handedness, but in cultures where those things do frequently play into one's relative worth, it does happen.

We don't usually see white people who have spent their whole lives interacting with people of color on equal footing, regularly having people of all races in their homes, etc. suddenly saying and doing actively racist things once psychosis or some type of disinhibition kicks in. It's similar to how violent drunks aren't people with great nonviolent problem-solving skills while sober; they're just people who manage to refrain from punching anyone unless drinking. Someone who is able to go on a racist tirade while drunk/drugged/traumatized/psychotic or while completely at baseline has absorbed racist beliefs from somewhere.

So, yeah, the takeaway here is that it doesn't matter whether this person is psychotic. They've behaved in racist ways and have done harm. Rather than excusing it, we need to commit to calling out racism at all times and actively teaching everyone around us to be anti-racist. Focus on eliminating racism, not on engaging in this "but but whatabout"ism.

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Does she have security cameras so they can track her down?

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