Susan Westood Speaks Out For First Time Since Racist Rant
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. — “Am I a racist now, No. Was I then? Perhaps,” says Susan Westwood. She says she has changed since a vile video went viral back in 2018. The 54-year-old no longer lives in Charlotte; she moved to Charlottesville, Virginia recently to be closer to her father. It was just a couple months ago that Westwood decided she was ready to talk about how she treated sisters Mary and Leisa Garris that night. They are the two women accosted by Westwood while they waited for AAA.
Westwood says, “I never really publicly apologized to them and the Black community,” and, “I can certainly see why the Black community can think that my actions were racist.”
WCCB TV’s Morgan Fogarty asked Westwood, “You said ‘I can understand why the Black community thinks that what I did was racist.’ Do you understand that what that what you did was racist?” Westwood replied, “I do.”
Westwood says what happened that night was rooted in her bigotry and her alcoholism. She says she drank six glasses of wine, and while she says she didn’t black out, she doesn’t remember most of what happened. Fogarty asked her if she’s seen the videos.
“I have. And it took me a long time to watch those.”
Fogarty says, “They’re pretty bad.”
“I know they are. Yup, they are.” She continues, “I don’t like that person. But that’s not the person that I am today.
The fallout from the video was swift. Westwood was fired from her job. Her apartment complex asked her to leave. And she was criminally charged, with misuse of 911 and other offenses. She pleaded guilty, got 12 months probation, and the judge ordered her to keep going to substance abuse classes.
In 2019, she relapsed. “Actually I got a DWI in Wake County,” she says. Another wake up call for Westwood, that she says pushed her to dig deeper into her sobriety and anti-racism work.
Fogarty asked Westwood, “Are you a racist?” She replied, “I am not a racist anymore. I do not believe I am. I believe I am an anti-racist.”
Westwood says she will change careers this summer, from insurance sales to life coaching. She says, “I think it’s my job now, to a certain extent, to have these difficult conversations. I’ve had them with myself, I’ve had them with people around me who either accept it or don’t accept it, but I think part of my vision, part of my legacy, is to be an anti-racist, is to talk about these things openly and honestly with anybody who will at least listen.”
Westwood’s conviction in connection to the viral video was expunged. Her Wake Co. DWI does remain on her record. Fogarty asked Leisa and Mary Garris if they wanted to respond to Westwood’s public apology. They say, “We’re always open to allow anyone to right their wrong. Ephesians 4:32 AMP!! Therefore; we forgave Susan Westwood a long time ago and we’re excited to know she’s taken the appropriate steps toward her own recovery and to understand the damages racism causes. We’re also open to sitting down with Susan to (discuss) the topic at hand, if she wishes!”