An Indian American entrepreneur and his friends were subjected to hate-filled invective Feb. 3 evening in Seattle, Washington, while waiting in line to get a pizza.
Aditya Sastry, founder and digital strategist at Inflect Solutions, was with his friend Joey Velez and Tom Krajnak in Seattle’s trendy Capitol Hill area. “Something about us caught her attention and she began a racist, xenophobic rant followed by threats and assault,” said Sastry in a Facebook post which was shared by more than 3,600 people.
“It became quickly apparent that her issue was with Joey and my appearance as we are ethnically Puerto Rican and Indian, respectively.”
“We’ve both faced racist incidents before, but this is the second time this year I’ve been accosted by white Americans claiming this country is theirs. Both these incidents occurred in the sanctuary cities of Boston and Seattle,” he wrote.
Sastry began secretly taping the racist rant, and later posted the video to Facebook. In the video, a white woman repeatedly asks Sastry: “Where are you from?”
“You’re not white, b****, where are you from?”
The woman proceeded to denigrate India as a terrorist country and called Sastry a “fu**ing terrorist.” At one point, she asked Sastry, who is shown remaining silent throughout the exchange, whether he was from Saudi Arabia. She then called him a “n**gah,” and clarified that she wasn’t calling him a “n**ger.”
When Velez responded that he was American, the woman told him to “f***king act like one,” as seen in the video. The two-minute video abruptly ended as the woman spied Sastry recording her and snatched the phone from his hand and smashed it. The young man was able to retrieve his shattered phone.
The confrontation continued, even after the woman had smashed the phone, reported Sastry in his Facebook post. He noted that the expletives were directed at himself, Velez, and an African American woman standing next to them.
In an update, Sastry wrote that a suspect has been identified, due to the large number of witnesses who came forward.
“I was born and raised in this country and have been blessed with opportunities that don’t exist or aren’t as accessible elsewhere, but I find myself having a more and more difficult time feeling welcome in my own country,” said Sastry in his Facebook post, adding that he was sharing the video to “highlight the reality of the current socio-political climate even in the bluest of places.”
Seattle and its surrounding suburbs have seen many incidents of hate violence against Indian Americans. Last November, a Sikh American teenager was beaten up by a classmate who punched him and kicked him to the ground. In March, a Richland, Washington couple – who are also Sikh Americans – came home to a diaper on their doorstep with a note bearing the phrases: “you are under attack,” and “watch yourself.” (See earlier India-West story here: http://bit.ly/2oiFBrc)
Also in March, businessman Deep Rai was shot in the arm outside his Kent home by a suspect who yelled “Get out of our country. Go back to where you’re from.”