Gisele Barreto Fetterman, the wife of the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, went to the grocery store Sunday to pick up some golden kiwi fruit.
It was a last minute shot so she went to a local Aldi store without the state troops who usually protect her. With three boxes of kiwi fruit in hand, Ms. Fetterman was standing in line to pay when a woman stopped and stared at her.
“‘Oh, there is the N-word that Fetterman married,'” Ms. Fetterman recalled the woman who said to her, and emphasized in a telephone interview that the woman used the racial fraud without abbreviation. Mrs. Fetterman is the wife of Lt. Governor John Fetterman, a Democrat.
Shaken, Ms. Fetterman paid for her products and went to her car. The woman reappeared, pulled down her purple mask, and repeated the racist arc to Ms. Fetterman, who recorded the encounter and shared it with her followers on social media.
“I love, love, love this country, but we are so deeply divided,” wrote Ms. Fetterman.
“This behavior and hatred are taught,” she added. “If you know her, if she is your neighbor or relative, please teach her love instead.”
News of the encounter spread just three weeks before a presidential election in which Pennsylvania will repeat its role as a major battlefield state. President Trump follows his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in almost every poll, but Republicans have the advantage of Democratic voter registration by nearly 200,000 in a state Mr. Trump won by less than 45,000 votes in 2016 decreased.
Ms. Fetterman said in an interview that the Pennsylvania State Police had identified the woman in the video and were investigating.
A native of Brazil, Fetterman, 38, is a former undocumented immigrant who came to New York City with her mother and brother before she was 8. She said she received her green card in 2004 and became a citizen in 2009.
She and Mr. Fetterman married in 2008 and have three children. You live in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a borough east of Pittsburgh where Mr. Fetterman was formerly mayor. She said the grocery store is about a two-minute drive from her home.
She said she was the target of hateful comments online and in emails, but that the Sunday encounter was the first time she was assaulted in the face.
“I had a lot of hatred for myself,” she said. “I’ve learned to get used to them and to say the right thing. It has become normal for me. It’s never been in public on my face. Nobody is immune to it. “
Her tweet, which was viewed more than 300,000 times on Monday afternoon, met with reactions on social media from legislators.
“It’s up to us to teach kindness, acceptance and inclusion to our children and to condemn hatred whenever and wherever we see it,” wrote Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, on Twitter. Another Pennsylvania Democrat, Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, said on Twitter that “there is no place for hatred”.
Ms. Fetterman said she hoped people would “treat her with compassion and teach her differently” to the woman she approached at the supermarket.
“I know I wasn’t the first on the receiving end,” she said, “but I hope to be the last with her in person.”