The wife of Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor said a White woman hurled racist slurs at her while she was out shopping for groceries on Sunday. Gisele Fetterman, who was born in Brazil and is married to Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, said the incident left her shaken and reminded her of those unsettling years she lived undocumented in the U.S. with her family.
“I was quickly a 9-year-old undocumented little girl scared of someone knocking at the door at that moment,” Fetterman told CBS Pittsburgh on Monday. “It absolutely brought back all the feelings of feeling that I didn’t belong or that I wasn’t welcomed here.”
Fetterman said the woman started attacking her inside the store in Braddock on Sunday evening. “She says, ‘There’s that ‘N word’ that Fetterman married,’ and said I was a thief and that I didn’t belong here and kept walking,” Fetterman told CBS Pittsburgh.
“I got in my car and I began to back up, and I was crying and shaking at this point, and she comes out of the store with no groceries, just with her purse, and that’s when I was finally able to get my phone and that was kind of the end of it,” Fetterman said.
In a two-second video Fetterman posted on her Twitter account, the woman is seen verbally attacking her, saying, “You’re a n****r” through Fetterman’s car.
The incident comes as the U.S. is still battling racial injustice and police brutality amid protests following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans.
Fetterman, who fled Brazil to the U.S. with her family when she was young, has not been spared these racial slurs though they usually occur online.
Despite being left shocked over the woman’s racist attack, she was able to take a photograph of the woman’s license plate, which she has since given to her security detail.
Condemning the incident on Monday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said: “Racism and hate speech are always unacceptable, and unworthy of Pennsylvanians.”
“No Pennsylvanian should ever be made to feel unwelcome in our commonwealth because of their race or ethnicity. Gisele Fetterman spends much of her time devoted to making our state and world a better place and she — and every Pennsylvanian — deserves our respect, not the hatred too often displayed by people who seek only to further divide this country at a time when unity is so desperately needed,” he said in a statement.
Fetterman has, however, asked that the woman be met with compassion. The second lady believes that the woman was taught that kind of behavior.
“…If you know her or if she’s your neighbor or your family member, to try to find where this came from and try to work — the same way we learn something, we can unlearn it,” Fetterman said.