Harvard Worker Apologizes for Question to Young Mom

During argument, Theresa Lund asks neighbor if she lives in affordable housing
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2018 12:35 PM CDT
Harvard Staffer Sorry for 'Affordable Unit' Comment
File photo of an apartment building in Cambridge, Mass.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

A Harvard staffer is apologizing after a video showing her confronting a neighbor went viral. In video posted by Alyson Laliberte on Facebook, Theresa Lund, executive director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, can be seen sitting on a curb while Laliberte films and Laliberte's toddler daughter plays nearby. The video begins mid-confrontation, but Laliberte says in the post that Lund was upset the toddler was making noise while playing outside their Cambridge apartment building around 3:30pm while Lund was trying to get her children to nap. At one point, Lund asks Laliberte if they live in the "affordable units" or a Harvard-owned unit; Laliberte, whose daughter is biracial, says on Facebook that it was "totally discriminating and racist of her." In a statement to the Boston Globe, Lund says she's "terribly sorry" for her "inappropriate and wrong" actions.

"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," she continued, adding that "there was no reason for me to ask what type of unit she lives in." Lund said she had apologized in person Sunday. Yahoo (which notes that Lund is being called "Sidewalk Susie" online, a callback to "Permit Patty" and "Pool Patrol Paula," among others) has a screenshot of a since-deleted post from the director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative saying Lund "is a principled and ethical leader and these posts are taken out of context." Meanwhile, Rolling Stone takes a look at the phenomenon of white women calling the police on black people, arguing that "rising racial fear and resentment is slowly creating a new 21st century version of Jim Crow." (Read more viral video stories.)

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