On Jan. 4, Bayonne resident Tameka Bordeaux was walking down Avenue C on her way to 7/11 to pick up medicine for her stomach when a white woman began to call her the N-word.
Bordeaux captured the incident on video via Facebook Live
Caught on camera
The white woman claimed that Bordeaux had harassed her while she was outside her house talking to the mailman. The white woman, who began following Bordeaux, continued the racial slurs and claimed that Bordeaux was following her.
The video shows the only harassment taking place was towards Bordeaux and that the white woman was following Bordeaux for blocks. A Black man who witnessed the harassment began walking with Bordeaux.
The confrontation ended when another white woman stepped in on behalf of Bordeaux in the 7/11 parking lot on the corner of West 20th Street and Avenue C. After following Bordeaux from the area of West 17th Street, the white woman finally stopped harassing Bordeaux, leaving the scene after the other white woman stepped in.
In the video, the white woman who intervened on behalf of Bordeaux said that the racist white woman had done this in the past.
Following the harassment, Bordeaux discussed the incident in a separate video. She explained that she didn’t get violent with the racist white woman because that’s not who she is. Bordeaux didn’t want to stoop to the woman’s level of toxicity and negativity.
Responding with violence would not have solved the situation eanyway according to Bordeaux, because the woman would still be racist.
“Witnesses spoke up and that’s what we have to do,” she said. Bordeaux said that not everything has to be met with a fist or cursing.
Bordeaux, who is working toward a Master’s Degree in clinical mental health, said the woman in the video appeared to have mental issues.
“With the work that I’m constantly doing on myself, I will not throw that work away putting my fist in the mouth of some racist white woman that could potentially have some mental offsets,” Bordeaux said. “Yeah, I could have beat her ass, but what would I have gotten out of that?”
Local officials respond
Mayor James Davis said he was made aware on Jan. 4 of the “disturbing video” that was circulating on social media. He spoke to Bayonne Police Chief Robert Geisler and was assured that the BPD was already investigating the incident.
“The video content was appalling and certainly not indicative of who we are in Bayonne,” Davis said. “Our community will continue to stand together and work to eliminate these acts of hatred.”
Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti said that he too watched the videos posted on social media by Bordeaux that showed her being “verbally abused, followed, racially harassed and dehumanized as she walked her neighborhood in Bayonne.” Chiaravalloti represents the 31st Legislative District in the State Assembly, which includes Bayonne and Jersey City.
“The words of hate are repulsive,” Chiaravalloti said. “The media now refers to individuals who display this racist behavior as ‘Karens.’ This is wrong. These people need to be outed by their name.”
He continued, “My heart goes out to Tameka. The tragic fact is that racism exists, and it was on full display yesterday.”
As he read some of the comments to the video, Chiarvalloti said he was disappointed at those seeking to defend the white woman’s racism.
“There is no excuse for this behavior,” Chiaravalloti said. “I am sensitive to the real issue of mental illness, but that does not permit someone to berate and harass someone on the street.”
He summed up, “For those who still think this is no big deal, imagine if Tameka was your mother, your wife, your daughter. How angry would you be? Would you not want to stand with her, support her, show her love? I am not sure what else I can say other than, I stand with Tameka.”
McKnight stands with Bordeaux
Assemblywoman Angela McKnight released a statement in solidarity with Bordeaux. McKnight also represents the 31st Legislative District in the State Assembly.
“I watched the social media live video posted by Tameka Bordeaux of her being racially harassed as she walked down a street in complete outrage and disgust,” McKnight said. “The white woman shown in the video trailed her and hurled the worst racial epithets imaginable to a Black woman who was calmly walking down a Bayonne street on the way to a store. This behavior is becoming so common now that we simply refer to these racist people as ‘Karen’ and let it go. I can’t just do that.”
She continued, “I put myself in Tameka’s shoes, and I know it had to take a lot of restraint for her to endure what she went through today. I thank her for being the strong Black woman that she is to remain calm and reserved during the entire ordeal.”
According to McKnight, this matter needs to be investigated. Regardless of the outcome of any investigation, McKnight said that Bordeaux was incredibly wronged.
“We know Bayonne has a history of racist behavior, and we can no longer sit by and make excuses for residents in any New Jersey town to ever be allowed to call someone the N-word,” McKnight said. “To read the comments of some white people now making an excuse or defense for this behavior is alarming and gets us to the real problem of this systemic situation.”
She continued, “Regardless of the mental state of this ‘Karen,’ as social media refers to her, she was able to walk up and down the street and have a conversation with a mailman, but somehow be triggered enough by a Black woman to call her the N word and follow her for blocks.”
This is a racist act, and there is nothing to debate in social media, McKnight said.
“At the end of the day what she did was totally wrong, disrespectful and unacceptable,” McKnight said. “We have to make people accountable for themselves. If people are sick, then we have to get them help. But we cannot excuse racism, ever.”
Following the incident, an investigation was initiated by the Bayonne Police Detective Bureau which led to Claudia Emanuele being identified as the woman in the video.
She was arrested without incident at her home on Jan. 5 at 12:51 p.m. Emanuele has been charged with Bias Intimidation and Harassment. According to police, Emanuele relocated to Bayonne from Tennessee in September.
Last year, similar racially charged incidents took place in Bayonne, including threats against a Black-owned bookshop and its owner and a Facebook post calling for lynchings.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.