Jeff Whitman drove two miles out of his way to follow a black man to his house and call him a “n***er” in a now-viral racist tirade caught on video. The consequences for his racism were immediate.
Last week, Whitman — owner and operator of Uriah’s Heating, Cooling, and Refrigeration — made the news for taking his road rage way too far. Charles Lovett, who lives in Columbus, recorded Whitman on his phone when the latter arrived outside of Lovett’s house in his company truck, angry that Lovett didn’t allow him to go straight in a right-turn-only lane.
“Is there a reason why you just followed me to my house?” Lovett said as he exited his vehicle in his driveway.
“I wanted to let you know how much of a n***er you are,” Whitman said in the video, with his company name, phone number, and state contractor’s license prominently displayed on his driver’s side door.
ALL HANDS ON DECK.
"I just want to let you know what a nigger you are." -Jeffrey Whitman, owner of Uriahs Heating, Cooling, & Refrigeration in Columbus, OH
Jeffrey Whitman, in his own company vehicle, chased a Black man all the way to his home to repeatedly call him a nigger. pic.twitter.com/BMh3bHHBCS
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) July 25, 2018
Now, Whitman is apparently apologetic after the internet ruined his business. Searching for Whitman’s business on Yelp shows hundreds of one-star reviews from commenters saying Whitman “gives hardworking tradesmen a bad name,” and that Uriah’s is “owned and operated by your not so friendly neighborhood racist.” Uriah’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) accreditation has been suspended due to Whitman violating the BBB’s integrity standards.
When Columbus NBC affiliate WCMH confronted Whitman in the immediate aftermath of the video spreading on social media, Whitman was unapologetic about his actions.
“I don’t know if it makes it right or wrong all I can say is I grew up with it and not a big deal for me,” Whitman said.
However, in a phone message to Columbus Dispatch writer Theodore Decker, Whitman is now saying his decision to follow Lovett to his house and hurl racial slurs at him was “an awful mistake.”
“I’m out of business, I’m completely out, I’m done, I’ll never work in Columbus again,” Whitman said. “This has completely and thoroughly ruined my life.”
“I just don’t understand the intensity of the hate,” said the man who drove two miles out of his way to verbally abuse a complete stranger based on the color of his skin.
The story of Jeffrey Whitman’s swift comeuppance shows a very clear lesson: Racists are not sorry for being racist until you make them pay for it financially. While Whitman’s claims that his 86-year-old mother and wheelchair-using 25-year-old daughter are being harassed are unfortunate if true, it’s difficult to feel sympathy for him suffering due to the fact that his determination to spew racial hatred at a stranger is what led to the public outcry.
Whether Whitman is truly sorry for the mindset that led to his actions that day or of he’s simply apologizing because he got caught and lost his business remains to be seen. But the fact that the public outcry was so swift may end up being its own deterrent for racists thinking about lashing out at minorities in the future.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.