A screenshot from a viral video of man berating a young hassidic boy.
(photo credit: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT)
The man who filmed himself berating a young hassidic boy over his haircut posted a video apology to Twitter on Tuesday night.
Quai James, who uploaded a video to Facebook on Saturday that went viral before being removed, took to social media several days later to reflect on the video and the reactions.
“I just want to sincerely apologize to that young boy and his family,” James said in the video. “I never meant for anybody to get hurt, or for this to be taken the wrong way. It was just a joke, and I’m sorry, like I’m truly sorry. I think about it every day now.”
The video, posted on Facebook on Saturday and then on Twitter on Sunday, quickly went viral, viewed more than one million times and shared tens of thousands of times. In the video, James comes across a young boy on the street who appears upset. The boy’s hair is closely shaved except for his long sidelocks, in keeping with hassidic tradition.
“I’d be crying if I looked like that too bro,” James says to the little boy. “That’s f***** up what they be doing to you.”
The boy, who appears to be about three or four years old, stands silently staring while James continues talking.
“You probably had the full wash and set – they should be fired if they ain’t cut your sh*t,” he added. “F*** it though bro, it’s your life.”
By Monday afternoon, neither the video nor James’s Facebook account were accessible.
A spokeswoman for Facebook confirmed late Monday that the video “violates our bullying policies, and we took it down upon investigating.”
The viral version of the video on Twitter was removed by the woman who posted it on Monday, after she said people had called her place of work to complain.
In his video on Tuesday, James said he wanted to make it clear he had no antisemitic intent.
“I don’t want this to be like a race thing, I have nothing against Jewish people,” he said. “I have friends that are Jewish, my babysitter growing up was Jewish... that was in regards to the haircut only, that was my opinion on the haircut.... I have nothing against them, trust me. They have been through too much, too much – we’ve been through as much as they’ve been through, they’ve been through worse.”
The original video, he said, was just a failed attempt at humor.
“That was just me being really immature. That was one of the most immature videos I probably every recorded,” he said. “It’s making me seem like somebody I’m not – I’m not that type of person, I’m not disrespectful.... It’s my fault that I didn’t think of this while I was doing it, before I even did it – I should have been more considerate.”
James said the entire experience was a big wake-up call.
“It was a big mistake,” he said. “I allow social media to turn me into a person I’m not.”
As of Wednesday morning, James’s apology had been viewed close to 200,000 times. Most Twitter users saw his contrition as genuine, and thanked him for his understanding.
“Mr. James, you are what we would call a mentsch,” tweeted New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger. “You accepted, and you’ve repented. Hindsight is always 20/20. Glad you were able to realize that. Thank you for your words; they are truly meaningful. Anytime you want to walk the streets of my neighborhood with me, I’m happy to.”