“Soho Karen” Miya Ponsetto Tries (and Fails) to Explain Tackling Keyon Harrold Jr. Over Imaginary Phone Theft
There is a privilege to being able to go on to national television wearing a hat that says “Daddy” and telling Gayle King “enough” when she’s pointing out that you assaulted Keyon Harrold Jr., a Black teenager, on camera because you “thought” he stole your phone with absolutely no proof. And that’s exactly what happened with Miya Ponsetto, and it’s exhausting.
Today, the “Soho Karen,” whose real name is Miya Ponsetto, spoke with CBS This Morning to talk about the incident that went viral online. Ponsetto was staying in a hotel in New York when she attacked Keyon Harrold Jr., the teenage son of jazz musician Keyon Harold (who caught the incident on camera), because she believed he had her phone.
Her reasoning for tackling him? He was leaving the hotel, and she couldn’t find her phone. Assuming someone stole it, she thought whoever was walking out the door in that moment was the culprit. Or so that’s how she explained it. But the fact is that Miya Ponsetto attacked a Black 14-year-old because she racially profiled him and blamed him for something he did not do. In the interview with CBS This Morning, Gayle King asks Ponsetto if she was suspicious of everyone in the lobby, and Ponsetto openly admits that she was not suspicious of everyone.
As a rational person, my first thought would be to retrace my steps or ask to borrow a phone and call my own—not tackle a teenager and assume he stole it because he was leaving a hotel lobby.
But Ponsetto decided that tackling Keyon Harrold Jr. was justified because she was scared for the well-being of her phone. Beyond the absolutely horrendous actions of Ponsetto against the teen, the fact that she went on to explain that she didn’t ask everyone in the lobby further proves that she did, in fact, racially profile Harrold. She just instantly thought Harrold had been the one to take it, and Ponsetto seems to be unable to comprehend why that’s her racially profiling him.
While the entire interview is frustrating, there is something especially upsetting about Ponsetto continuing to explain away why she did what she did. Ponsetto tries to justify tackling a Black teenager by saying she thought he took her property … with absolutely no proof. Ponsetto keeps saying that she is sorry if she “hurt his feelings,” as if she did not tackle him over a phone. Look, who out there hasn’t put their phone somewhere and suddenly panicked because they couldn’t find it? Our lives are all attached to them. But what you don’t do is attack a teenager because you just assumed he stole your iPhone.
Ponsetto also tries to flip the narrative and says that his father, Keyon Harrold, “slammed me to the ground” … leaving out the fact that she attacked his child. Whether or not she knows it, she is caught on camera tackling him, so it doesn’t seem to be clear why she keeps saying that she just “yelled” at him when she very clearly tackles Keyon Harrold Jr. as he’s walking.
Her entire sob-story is about how she’s just a 22 year-old girl and this shouldn’t define her, but she’s acting as if her attacking a Black 14-year-old is something that should be brushed aside for her sake. She keeps excusing herself, saying “I’m a 22 year-old girl” as if that means she can’t see how this is racist? Even when it gets to the point where she admits that the hotel had her phone, she still can’t seem to fully comprehend what she did wrong.
Gayle King was not letting her get away with it, though. “You are 22 years old but you are old enough to know better,” she says, and that’s pretty much it right there. Ponsetto should know better. She should have known tackling someone you just assumed took your phone was wrong, and yet she still can’t see how this is an issue of race or her being in the wrong at all.
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