Rep. Jahana Hayes was holding an online campaign event when she was interrupted by disruptors hurling racial slurs. The congresswoman from Connecticut recounted the incident on Tuesday through an in-depth Medium essay.
“Our fourth meeting starts, and about 10 minutes in I hear ‘shut up N-word,’” Hayes wrote.
“I pause, not sure how to react, but I catch a glimpse of all the faces of the people who have joined the meeting. They are mortified, shocked, embarrassed, hurt and I could tell they didn’t know what to do next.”
The congresswoman's online campaign event was intended to highlight her legislative work and promote her re-election campaign. As the incident developed, members of Hayes' communication team stepped in and removed each disruptor from the Zoom call one-by-one.
“Six minutes of vile, disgusting, dare I say deplorable, hate ― and I am on full display as I process, in real time, what is happening,” Hayes wrote.
After learning about the incident, Zoom representatives stepped in to investigate the matter. Hayes' opponent in the upcoming election, David X. Sullivan, also condemned the incident publicly.
“It is appalling that a bigoted coward would direct insults at Congresswoman Hayes, interfere and disrupt a legitimate campaign activity, and besmirch the reputation of the good people of the 5th District of Connecticut,” he stated.
Hayes continued on in her essay by broadening the discussion to the overall treatment of Black women in America. The congresswoman detailed the disrespect and harassment she has faced in her own life as well as the acts of discrimination she has seen others endure.
"Black women are expected to press on, to ignore this behavior; to not talk explicitly about it because it is uncomfortable, divisive or does not reflect the sentiments of most people. I have watched other women weather this storm and fend off these types of attacks and wonder if in their quiet places they have felt what I am feeling right now," she wrote.
"The most painful part of it all is that no matter what you achieve in life, no matter how many degrees you earn or how good of a person you try to be ― all some people will ever allow themselves to see is a N-word."
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