Karina Brown thought it would be fun to watch a Bon Jovi concert to celebrate her 45th birthday. Little did she know that an unfortunate encounter with a racist concert attendee would ruin her night.
Brown was with her friend at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus last March for the Bon Jovi concert and toward the end of the show, a woman turned to her and casually said, “You don’t belong in this country.”
Shaken by the stranger’s comment, the Japanese-American who serves as an administrator at Columbus State Community College, left immediately.
Brown, who is a daughter of a Japanese immigrant and an American veteran, would discover something more disturbing after the incident.
When she told her story to other people, she was shocked to hear some of them actually trying to justify it. There were even those who accused her of overreacting.
She even received negative comments when she posted about the incident on Facebook.
“There were these various ways of making what happened to me ‘okay,'” Brown told Cincinnati.com.
She then posted her story on Documenting Hate, an online database created by nonprofit newsroom ProPublica that collects such incidents and spread awareness of discrimination in the United States.
Brown explained the need of sharing her experience because she wants to “do what’s right.” She noted that it is important to keep in mind that hate can happen in the “most unsuspecting of places.”
A recent study from the U.S. Department of Justice found that hate crimes and racial and other forms of discrimination often go unreported.
“Here’s this woman standing next to me,” Brown said. “She looks like someone I would see at one of my kids’ PTA meetings, and the look she gave me, the contempt she had for me.”
“It floored me, I just couldn’t believe it,” she added, noting that sharing it may help someone else that’s had something happen to them.
Brown, who grew up in Newark, Ohio, said her family experienced discrimination very often.
“It was in my early years in that town where I experienced racism and xenophobia,” Brown said. “People saying my mom was a devil worshiper and making all kinds of derogatory Asian remarks.”
Brown pointed out that while racism has existed in the past, Donald Trump’s election as president has made some people more emboldened to express racism.
“I think she felt empowered to say something like that,” Brown said. “I think she felt entitled to speak up against immigrants.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has some data to prove that there is a correlation between Trump’s campaign rhetoric and subsequent acts of discrimination. In the first 10 days after the election alone, the center has documented and verified 867 hate incidents in the United States.
Feature Image via Cincinnati.com