DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — It was hate caught on tape.
Over the past several days, video of a North Texas father calmly confronting a Dillard’s clerk at Dallas’ NorthPark Center has gone viral – viewed more than a million times and counting. The clerk, witnesses confirmed, hurled a racial slur at the man’s 10-year-old son.
“I ask the question: what could he have done? What could the 10-year-old do to Homer to deserve to be called a ‘f****** n*****?'”
Muhammad Karim, the child’s father, doesn’t really expect an answer, but he wants the world to ponder, “Why is there so much hate?”
He says his family lives a quiet life in Johnson County running a small catering business and restaurant. The trip to the NorthPark Dillard’s should have been a break from the heat.
He asked a clerk who said his name was Homer for directions to a dressing room. He returned to find his son in tears. “A tear came out my baby’s eye and he said, ‘Dad, you didn’t hear what that man just called me?'” shares Karim.
After questioning his son and others who overheard the slur, Karim remained calm. He can be heard on the video telling that clerk that he would never have so disrespected the clerk’s family, and that he is a man of “grace and honor.”
But he also admits that refusing to give in to the anger wasn’t easy, and credits his faith. “The Prophet Muhammad says ‘don’t be angry. Don’t be angry. Don’t be angry’,” and then he pauses for a brief laugh: “I’ll be honest with you. I was angry. I was livid.”
And he didn’t buy the clerk’s explanation that he had hit his leg.
“You don’t go from hitting your foot to ‘f****** n*****.’ Life doesn’t work that way. This is repetitive behavior.”
The employee told Karim that he had worked at Dillard’s for more than 20 years, but now no more.
In response to our questions, Dillard’s corporate office provided the following statement.
“The allegations made against our former employee were promptly investigated, found to be in clear violation of our standards, and his employment with Dillard’s was immediately terminated.”
But Karim points out that his son is 10 and is still traumatized by the experience.
“I don’t think Homer understands the impact of his words. My Honey [the family nickname for the child known for being so kind] is scared to come outside. He thinks that every white person is out to get him. How do you explain it?”
Karim’s wife also overheard the slur and is struggling as well. That’s despite the friends, family and strangers rallying to show support.
He says his siblings and other relatives are relaying messages and sharing what’s being said on social media – the internet this time intrigued by someone NOT behaving badly. Still, if his family is struggling, Karim admits, so is he.
“I can’t allow for my emotions to overshadow them in this particular time,” he says as his eyes fill with tears. “So, I’m doing the best that I can to protect them.”
Just as he did that day in Dillard’s; by continuing to model the values that he teaches.
“The best decision at that moment,” he says, “was to do what was right.”