My Tram Experience: Would you have confronted her? (1 December 2011)

I imagine many people saw or at least heard about a video that appeared on YouTube at the start of the week. Dubbed “My Tram Experience” it’s a video, seemingly taken by a member of the public, taken on a crowded tram showing a woman with a young child on her knee. The woman is white and she’s off on a racist rant about people coming into the UK and taking jobs etc.

For the most part the people on the tram “put up” with the woman ranting away. A black man sitting behind her stands up, looks clearly upset and seems like he might want to attack her. He doesn’t. He is calmed by a female. 

Some more time passes and a black woman decides it’s time for the ranter to quit. The woman says there are children on the tram. The woman’s accent is not British and she wants the ranter to stop, mostly because it’s disturbing for the children on the tram (no less the ranter’s own child sitting on her knee looking bewildered). The ranter basically tells the woman to get back to her own country. 

Then a British woman, also travelling with her child, lays into the ranter. Not entirely because of the nature of the rant but because the ranter has disturbed her child. The ranter says something about standing up for her country to which the other mother says she’s English too. And on it goes. 

Anyway, the point is. Out of that entire tram car only 2 individuals speak up. Fair enough. Since that happened at the start of the week I have read and heard a lot of comments about the others on the tram and what they should have done. A large amount of comments from people saying that if they’d been on the tram they’d have given the ranter a piece of their mind, they wouldn’t have let her away with it. Well, it’s easy saying that if you’re not on the tram. 

When I look at that video I note that plenty people look horrified, most want her to shut up but most wouldn’t confront her and I don’t blame them. The ranter was beyond the point of being rational, that was clear to see anyone travelling with her in that confined space probably really only wanted either her or their journey to be over quickly. Confronting her might mean an escalation in her behaviour. It might mean getting into a situation you’re not comfortable with. Not that listening to a racist rant on the tram is a situation anyone wants to be in. 

It’s always interesting to hear what people would have done in certain situations. The person that filmed her perhaps did the best thing. The ranter was arrested following the incident. It showed me a lot about her mindset that she actually didn’t object to being filmed, didn’t think for a minute that what she was doing was wrong. It’s not a bad thing to have not confronted her. 

Most of us are brought up to “mind our own business” and as she wasn’t attacking any one individual on the tram, just having a massive, unpleasant rant, no one was in immediate danger.