Video of racist incident in Edmonton goes viral

A video of a racist incident on the streets of Edmonton has gone viral – more than 200,000 views in less than 24 hours.

The video, captured while local entrepreneur and actor Jesse Lipscombe was filming a PSA promoting downtown Edmonton, shows a car full of people pull up to an intersection. One of the passengers shouts, “The n*****s are coming, the n*****s are coming!”

Lipscombe is then seen walking over to the car door. He says he wanted to tell the man to repeat it to his face, to make the man feel just as uncomfortable as he felt. The man yells a couple of other obscenities while trying to slam the door before the car drives away.

N word dude GigCity EdmontonIt’s a shocking and disheartening reminder that racism very much exists in our society – and in our city.

Many commenters praised Lipscombe for taking the ostensible high road and not delivering the beat-down they surely would have inflicted on the man, as well as disbelief that racism is still prevalent in 2016.

“It’s funny when the video was posted how quickly it became a real issue,” Lipscombe says. “Seeing is believing.”

The outpouring of support has been staggering. This conversation was Lipscombe’s 17th of 22 interviews on Thursday. Mayor Don Iveson released a statement condemning the incident and called Lipscombe personally to talk about it.

“We know each other and we’re friends, but we had a very emotionally fuelled conversation about it. He feels very, very hurt personally in the sense of his city and this happening there,” Lipscombe says. “Both of us feel that these emotions are amazing, but something real has to come from them.”

He posted the video on Thursday morning to start a discussion, and he did. He points out that in order to move forward as a society, we need to be able to acknowledge our present issues. “If you ask a minority, if you ask a female what it’s like to go to the bar and get cat-called daily … they know it’s a reality,” he says. “Once we collectively get to that place, then we can all make that step forward. So me posting it, that’s exactly the reason.”

On top of raising awareness, Lipscombe hopes the incident works as a catalyst for some tangible change. Racism is something we hear a great deal about, particularly from our neighbours to the south, but it’s not something we like to think happens at home.

Jesse Lipscombe GigCity Edmonton“People don’t take things to heart until it hits home, and home is literally, ‘I know that dude’ or ‘I’m from that city,’” he says. “The more times people can hear those stories in their own places and understand there’s actually a community that accepts and wants different and wants better, things will be better across the board. But it takes this outpouring of support, it takes the courage to stand up when something’s happened, it takes the courage to tell someone what they did was wrong. All of these things are real, but they are what affects change and change is sometimes uncomfortable.”

Lipscombe says that if he’s outside his home or regular work environment, it’s not uncommon to encounter some form of racial prejudice five out of seven days each week. While these comments are not always as explicit as the incident in the video or said with malicious intentions, they occur far too often. It’s a matter of education, Lipscombe says, and he’s always ready to address racist or derogatory comments towards minorities and women.

“If you ever have to ask yourself, ‘Is this inappropriate?’ There’s a good chance it is,” he says. “It’s a good litmus test. If you have to think, ‘Oh, should I say that?’ Go with no, for sure, and then do some research and learn. The cultures of the world are so unbelievably amazing. All you’re doing by being narrow-minded is not letting yourself experience the beauty of our world and all the cultures that are there.”

As for trying to find the identity of the men in the video, there have been angry calls to out them, perhaps get them fired, but Lipscombe says, “I don’t actually care who they are. What they’ve done has given us a beautiful seed to do something else that’s bigger than them.”