MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A racially charged confrontation in the Mid-South is quickly going viral.
Brandon Levston said this all started Sunday afternoon in a parking lot in the Wolfchase area because the man in the video thought Levston cut him off in traffic.
Levston said he never expected things to take such a dramatic turn.
“You look like a *bleep* and you drive like a *bleep*”
The man, whom family members identified as Neil Thompson, shouted racial slurs while Levston sat in his car, recording the whole thing.
“Cause black lives don’t matter. There ain’t no proof. Just cause you say something don’t mean nothing,” he said.
“Black people were bought by contract and we got ripped off because y’all should’ve gotten returned when there was evidence and proof that you can’t do anything. Because y’all live on welfare,” he added.
Levston said he doesn’t think he cut the other driver off.
“I had so much space the guy couldn’t possibly stop me from getting over, but he was angry. He was riding my tail.”
Both drivers ended up in a parking lot.
Levston said Thompson even started flipping him off and calling him the N-word.
“Jumped in front of me and made me slam on my breaks at a light. That makes you a *bleep*”
“My very first thought is pretty much the same as everybody else — get upset, to get violent, to be physical,” Levston told WREG’s Michael Quander.
But Levston kept his cool. He said he thought about how overreacting could negatively affect his family.
“The biggest defeat I could take out of all of this is that if I allowed this to affect me and affect my character,” he said.
Levston eventually drove away and posted the video, hoping people would learn from this racially charged encounter.
“I hope you learn from it. I hope you something different and I honestly hope you don’t teach that to your children,” Levston said.
He said this sort of, what he called, blatant racism has always been around, but it’s still hard to deal with.
“It’s reflective of what’s going on in our society right now. It’s nothing new. It’s just the platform, the stage, the way we receive information is different.”
Faith Morris with the National Civil Rights Museum said people are likely reacting strongly to the video because they can’t avoid seeing videos like these on social media.
“This is freedom of speech. People will say anything they want to say, but what it does give you is kind of a heads up to what truly is going on,” she said.
Morris said when racist beliefs are embraced by an individual they can spread into businesses, groups and organizations.
The good thing, she said, is people are starting to have those conversations.
“We always talk about — if you understand your history — you really understand your history, then you take the best part of it and continue it and you try to beat the part that really was not just,” she added.
Levston said he’s already trying to learn from the experience and move forward.
“As hard as it is for people to believe, I forgive you.”