Racist altercation between guests at North Raleigh restaurant goes viral in video

An after-work get-together at a North Raleigh restaurant turned into a viral video Tuesday when a white woman complained that a group of black women were too loud and then invoked the n-word when confronting them.

The video was posted on the Facebook account of Chanda Stewart. In the post that went along with the video, she wrote, “So this happened today.

“What was supposed to be dinner with my girlfriends ended up in us being called stupid [slur]. The climate of the country today has some people thinking whatever they feel ... they can say. The reality is if we were to retaliate with this same kind of hate and ignorance we would be called “angry black women”.

“As I prepare my child for the real world these are some of the people I prepare her for. The hateful, prejudiced, racists who think we should all “go back to where we came from.”

“Hopefully this idiot is not your coworker, neighbor, or friend. If so ... what will you do with this information??”

She ended with a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Stewart told WRAL on Wednesday that she was still in shock from the incident, “but this is the society we’re living in right now.”

“I don’t care how you feel like we should have been acting,” Shaw told WRAL. “If I was standing on the table with three heads in a purple jumpsuit, nothing justifies you to come to my table and call me a stupid (racial slur).”

The video begins inside Bonefish Grill at North Hills, with a narrator saying, “So I am shocked because this person had the audacity right there to come to our table and tell us that we are the rudest people that she has ever met.”

The camera focuses on a white woman across the restaurant, identified by WRAL as Nancy Goodman. The narrator says, “Look at her,” and the woman raises her arms and says, “Hi, girls.”

The narrator says, “We’re getting off work. We’re paying for our food just like everybody else. She told us that we are the rudest people ever.

“Here’s the thing,” she says. “Here’s the thing: What you gotta understand is that you don’t know what people going through.”

At this point, the woman has taken out her cell phone and is holding it up as if to record video of the woman videoing her.

As she approaches the group, the woman says, “I have some really good friends that are black, and I love them.”

The narrator says, “We never said anything about color.”

The woman, appearing to speak to another person in the group, says, “You’re too loud,” to which one of the group says, “In your opinion.”

The video focuses briefly on another member of the group, who says to the woman, “Let me show you my money. It’s just as green as yours.”

The woman responds, “Oh, you’re so stupid, [slur].”

One of the members of the group then says, “Call your black friends a [slur]” and the woman turns and says to the narrator, “They’re not like you.”

‘I would say it again’

Goodman told WRAL Wednesday that she should have asked the restaurant to tell the women not to be so loud.

“Instead, I went off on them, which I shouldn’t have done. But I had had it. It was out of my control to calm down my anxiety,” Goodman told WRAL.

She also told the TV station that she was not sorry she had used the racial slur.

“I’m not going to say I’m sorry to them because they kept pushing at it,” she told WRAL. “I would say it again to them. They are the rudest individuals I have ever seen.”

The video was posted Tuesday night and by Wednesday evening it had been widely shared with other Facebook users and viewed more than 114,000 times.

On Stewart’s Facebook page and on others, it prompted a stream of angry comments, some just about the woman in the video and others on the escalation of racial tensions in the U.S. more broadly. Many made references to President Donald Trump.

One of Stewart’s Facebook friends said, “Wow, Chanda! 45 really has these folks feeling themselves. Black women are always seen as loud to those who believe they shouldn’t be heard at all.”

Neither Goodman nor Stewart responded to requests from The News & Observer for comment about the incident.

Several people criticized the restaurant’s response.

Bonefish responds

Calls to the North Hills Bonefish Grill were directed to the restaurant chain’s corporate spokeswoman. The company said it was investigating the incident.

“We are a place for all people to gather for good food in a comfortable atmosphere, including positive interactions among guests,” read an emailed statement from Bonefish Grill. “We do not tolerate hate speech or disrespect in our restaurants. We are reviewing the incident to see how we can do better at deescalating something like this in the future.”

The company said it had reached out to Chanda Stewart.

Bonefish said corporate policy is to ask anyone using racist language to leave the restaurant.

“We are still looking into what happened and don’t have all the facts,” Bonefish Grill said in an email. “Nonetheless, the use of a racial slur by anyone in our restaurant is unacceptable. ... We do not tolerate this type of behavior. Guests who behave in this manner are asked to leave.”

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Martha Quillin is a general assignment reporter at The News & Observer who writes about North Carolina culture, religion and social issues. She has held jobs throughout the newsroom since 1987.
Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.