Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms has been one of the main critics of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who announced on Monday that certain businesses will be able to reopen despite the continued uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. Now people are retaliating against the mayor with racist language.
Not too long after Kemp said that he was allowing certain businesses — like barbershops, hair salons, fitness centers, bowling alleys, and body art studios — to open, Bottoms responded by warning folks about the devastating impact of the coronavirus. She told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, “Our numbers are not going down. And simply because we have hospital beds available, doesn’t mean that we should work to fill them up. I am asking people to please stay home. Avail yourself of the services that we have through the city, whether it’s through our food program, or our small business loan program.”
Although many Black businesses and other supporters are taking heed to Bottoms’ suggestion, many citizens of Georgia clearly disapprove.
On Wednesday night, Bottoms shared a message she allegedly received from a racist calling her the N-word. “Ni**er just shut up and RE-OPEN ATLANTA!” the text read. Bottoms commented on the incident on Twitter, writing, “With my daughter looking over my shoulder, I received this message on my phone. I pray for you.” Bottoms then went on to cite the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a quote: “Conscientious stupidity or sincere ignorance.”
Many folks across the country have been adamant about reopening businesses in their states because of the devastating effect closures are having on their livelihood. Protests have erupted all over the country in places like Maryland, Michigan, Colorado and Indiana, demanding local governments loosen or do away with stay-at-home orders so that businesses can reopen. Many of the protestors have clearly defied the current social distancing and face protection mandates of their states with little consequence, causing people to point out the privilege of the mostly white protestors.
Meanwhile, Black people continue to be disproportionately dying from COVID-19 all across the country and while some state governments have taken action, national action on the issue is still moving slow.
Health experts have warned that additional waves of the coronavirus pandemic are pretty much inevitable, but “it’s up to us how big those other waves will be,” explained epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant. He cautioned repeating mistakes from the 1918 flu pandemic that left 675,000 Americans dead. In that period, epidemiologists say, people gave up social distancing too early, causing a second wave of infections that was deadlier than the first. Considering Black people are already getting the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic with no assistance, future waves of the virus will continue to devastate Black communities if crucial action isn’t taken.