While a mother and her bi-racial child were drawing with chalk on the sidewalk outside of a Massachusetts apartment complex where they lived, a Harvard University-affiliated research center employee confronted them and condescendingly asked if they lived in “affordable housing.”
Theresa Lund, executive director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, has been dubbed “Sidewalk Susie” after a video of the incident went viral on Facebook.
Alyson Laliberte recorded and posted the video after she and her bi-racial daughter were made to feel as if they didn’t belong in the community where they lived. During the conflict, which occurred Saturday in Cambridge, Lund came downstairs from her apartment and accused Laliberte and her daughter for making so much noise they were preventing her children from napping, reported the Associated Press.
“I’m sitting here because you’re preventing my children from sleeping. Would you like me to do that to your kids?” Lund told Laliberte, according to the video posted her on Facebook.
Laliberte immediately snapped back, “Who is even watching your kids right now. Are you? Cause you’re not, you’re here with me and my kid.”
This resulted in Lund making an assumption about Laliberte and her living situation.
“Are you one of the affordable units? Or are you one of the Harvard units?” Lund asked.
On social media, the mother slammed and accused Lund, who’s white, of racism. “It was totally discriminating and racist of her... or maybe it was because my daughter is biracial, who knows?” Laliberte wrote.
On Monday, Lund apologized in a statement to the Boston Globe.
Lund said she’s “terribly sorry” and her comments were “inappropriate and wrong.” She added that “there was no reason for me to ask what type of unit she lives in.”
“I want to be accountable for my actions in a situation where I fell far short of my values and what I expect of myself,” Lund said. “This clearly wasn’t my best moment, and I have work to do to more consistently be my best self.”
(Photo: Roman Babakin/Getty Images)