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Photo: Instagram/@jon__christopher
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‘Soho Karen’ Saying She’s Puerto Rican Highlights Anti-Blackness in Latinx Culture

Miya Ponsetto — the woman who has become known across the U.S. as “Soho Karen”–tackled a 14-year-old Black boy to the ground in a New York City hotel lobby in December after accusing him of stealing her iPhone, when in fact, she had left it in an Uber. Now, the 22-year-old from Simi Valley, California, has spoken out for the first time, identifying herself as being of Latinx heritage in an apparent effort to excuse her racist and anti-Black behavior.

The incident took place in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel in Soho and in the video she can be seen chasing a boy identified by the New York Post as Keyon Harrold Jr., grabbing him by the waist and pulling him down. Keyon is the son of  Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter and producer Keyon Harrold who also recorded footage which he posted to his Instagram writing, “She scratched me; she Tackled and grabbed him. He is a child!!!”

The footage was tweeted by NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison on Dec.30 asking for more information on Ponsetto: “On Saturday, December 26, the woman in this video falsely accused an innocent 14-year-old teenager of stealing her cellphone. She then proceeded to physically attack him and fled the location before police officers arrived on scene.”

“I’m actually 22, so I don’t know what the problem is here — and I’m also Puerto Rican,” she responded when being asked by a New York Post reporter outside of a fast food restaurant near her mother’s home in California whether she was concerned about the warrant for her arrest and what her motive was in attacking Keyon Harrold Jr. on December  26.

Miya did not elaborate on her heritage, but seemed to be flippantly using it to defend herself against accusations that racism was the impetus for the altercation between the teenager and his father. Many people have since pointed out that Latinx heritage in no way pre-supposes the absence of racism, pointing out the prevalence of anti-Blackness and colorism that are inherent in many Latin American cultures.

“Does that justify what you did?” the New York Post reporter queried as Miya slammed her car door in his face.

“‘And I’m also Puerto Rican’ is how George Zimmerman got away with murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and this is why Latinidad is violent and should be canceled in 2021 and beyond….,” said Twitter user Melania Luisa Marte in response to the video of Miya flouting her heritage like a badge of exemption.

“The Latin American and Spanish Caribbean racial classification system is similar to the old racial classification system used by blacks in the U.S. and the West Indies,” City College Professor of Latin American and Latino studies, Iris Lopez told HipLatina in June 2020, explaining the differentiation between race and culture and why anti-Blackness is still so prevalent within the Latinx community.

While Miya has not yet been charged for the December 26, incident, she is wanted in New York City and many of her fellow Californians are also calling for the Los Angeles Police Department to arrest her, with the NYPD indicating that charges are imminent. Charges could include assault, grand larceny and harassment. Miya was arrested twice in 2020 once for DUI and once for public intoxication and was sued for not paying her rent in 2019.