A white elected official in Connecticut in being called out for a condescending Facebook post that, once again, plays off the racist criminalization of Black people.
According to the Hartfort Courant, First Selectwoman Lori Spielman posted a meme to her personal page over the weekend showing two photos — “one of white people baling hay and below that, Black people looting a store.” Under the farming photo, the caption was “If they did this during the day,” and under the looting picture was, “They wouldn’t do this at night.”
After backlash, Spielman removed the meme from her page and tried to explain herself on Sunday. However, her statement was still condescending and misinformed.
“My posting of bailing hay,” she wrote, “was more about if people got outside and worked instead of focusing on everything else, but good days work never hurt anybody.”
Its not known what she meant by “everything else,” but considering people have related looting to the recent protests against police violence, Spielman comes off as criticizing Black protestors.
Spielman continued in her post, “For my part, I never intended any post on my private social media account to convey a racist sentiment and I sincerely regret if it was interpreted in that manner.”
Selectmen are supposed to discuss the incident in a special meeting on July 20. Officials said the matter is considered a personal issue.
Spielman, who is a Republican serving her third term in office, made another statement at the beginning of Monday’s board of selectmen meeting, but speakers in the public comment session said her explanation didn’t hold up.
“I can’t even begin to express the dismay at seeing (a town leader) expressing overt racism on social media,” Kimberly Holliman said.
Catherine Ewing also discussed how problematic the meme was, reminding the board that American history is filled with scenes of white people looting and burning Black businesses and homes, along with killing Black people.
Danielle McCoy asserted, “I would like to see this town on the right side of an important time in our history.”
Town policy on social media conduct says public employees “are prohibited from speech involving themselves or others reflecting behavior that would reasonably be considered reckless or irresponsible.” Examples include messaging that maligns, ridicules, disparages or shows bias toward any race.
Some residents defended Spielman with one Doreen Carpenter writing on a community Facebook page, “There is nothing wrong w a (sic) post that shows hard work beats vandalism. This is a small farming town and most people enjoy seeing it at its picturesque best. People griping about every little thing these days have no respect.or civility for those of us born and working here.”
A Missouri farmer posted the same meme as Spielman and also faced backlash. He finally apologized when St. Louis restaurants said they would no longer buy from him.