In chapter 19, Tom Robinson takes the witness stand and tells the truth about the events that transpired on the evening of November 21st. Tom testifies that Mayella Ewell forced herself upon him by grabbing him around the waist and attempting to kiss him. Tom managed to push Mayella away and sprinted out of the home when he heard Bob Ewell yelling at her from outside. After Tom answers Atticus's questions, Mr. Gilmer, the racist prosecuting attorney, begins his cross-examination.
While Mr. Gilmer is questioning Tom, he demonstrates his racist attitude by speaking down to Tom and treating him with contempt. When Mr. Gilmer asks Tom why he chose to help Mayella without receiving any monetary compensation, Tom truthfully says that he felt sorry for her. In Maycomb's racist society, it is taboo for a black man to pity a white woman, and Mr. Gilmer discriminates against Tom by taking advantage of this prejudiced social convention. Mr. Gilmer is appalled by Tom's answer and repeats his statement by asking,
You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her? (Lee, 201).
Tom immediately recognizes his mistake, but it is too late, and Mr. Gilmer proceeds to discriminate against him while Tom is on the witness stand by asking,
Then you say she’s lying, boy? (Lee, 201).
Mr. Gilmer understands that Tom cannot challenge a white woman's word, which is why Tom does not say Mayella is lying. When Tom testifies that he ran from the home because he was scared that he would be accused of something he did not do, Mr. Gilmer once again discriminates against Tom by saying,
Are you being impudent to me, boy? (Lee, 202).
Overall, Mr. Gilmer discriminates against Tom by using racist social conventions against him, continually referring to Tom as "boy" and questioning his integrity. Mr. Gilmer's treatment of Tom Robinson is so disturbing and unjust that Dill bursts into tears and Scout has to remove him from the courtroom.