An unidentified White man, nicknamed “Hallway Harry,” accosted Chika Okafor, a Black sports producer, questioning if he lived in a building on the Upper East Side of New York City last week.
Okafor, 29, works for the sports website Bleacher Report. He uploaded the racism he experienced, while he and a friend, Cassius, waited for a Lyft to take to his company’s holiday party.
“I was racially profiled in my apartment complex last night,” the 29-year-old tweeted. “While I was with my friend Cassius Flemming waiting for a Lyft ride on the first floor of the building that I have lived in since mid-December of last year, this man interrogated me about where I live.”
“What are you doing in my building?” the White man can be heard questioning Okafor in the video.
After he was told that Okafor lived in the building, Hallway Harry wanted to know the specific apartment, but the sports producer refused to provide the information.
The White man continued, “You don’t live here. I’ve never seen you before. I’ve lived here 27 years.”
“I felt insulted,” Mr. Okafor told The New York Times of the standoff. “I felt violated. To me, his behavior suggested that, one, because we were people of color we were a threat to their safety, and, two, because we are people of color we can’t afford to live in that type of apartment complex.”
He continued, “It is none of his business. He doesn’t own the building. Just because he has lived there for 27 years, it doesn’t give him the right to interrogate other people.”
The now-viral video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times. Many social media users are linking it to other incidents where White people have called the police or berated Black people for carrying out mundane tasks.
The “Hallway Harry” incident is similar to other viral exchanges including “BBQ Becky,” who called the cops on Black men grilling in an Oakland, California park; “Permit Patty,” who called the police on an 8-year-old Black for selling water without a permit; and “Target Teresa,” who confronted Black women and told them they didn’t belong in Target.
Okafor reported the encounter to the building manager, but he was advised to contact police about private matters. He plans to re-sign his lease but wants the man to apologize and be evicted from the building.
Watch the encounter below.
The arrogance is appalling but honestly, not surprising because far too many times people of color have been victims of this kind of behavior. You can watch the video of the incident here.#racialprofiling #privilege #racism #noseyneighbor #mindyourbusiness #harassment pic.twitter.com/DlnSf154h8
— Chika Okafor (@ChikaO_13) December 20, 2018
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.