Justice

Black Farmer Gets Real in Viral Post About the Type of Subtle Racism He Fears Most

May 24th 2017

By:
Kyle Jaeger

It's easy to identify racism in fringe conservative figures like white nationalist Richard Spencer.

But protests condemning such flagrant racists often overlook the systemic prejudices and injustices that exist in everyday life, which one black farmer in Virginia honestly addressed in a viral Facebook post last week.

Newman

Chris Newman's Facebook post called out the counter-protests that were organized after Spencer led a march of torch-bearing white nationalists on May 14. Spencer's group was protesting the planned removal of a Confederate monument.

While the optics and sentiment of the demonstration were disturbing, Newman said he felt "far less bothered by the flag wavers in this picture than this town's progressives assuming its race problem has nothing to do with them."

Confederate

"The former is a visual inconvenience. The latter could leave my daughters without a father."

Newman described his experience living in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a black farmer. The city, he said, is the "most aggressively segregated place" he's ever lived or visited. He went on to write:

"I say 'aggressively' for two reasons. One, because of how assertive police (and the citizens who summon them) are here with racial profiling. It got so bad in 2014 - 2015 that I stopped renting farmland on estates where I could be easily seen from the road, and I stopped making food deliveries into wealthier neighborhoods because of how often police would 'happen by' and sometimes even question me five or ten minutes after I got a strange look from a passerby (usually someone jogging, but occasionally someone in a car). I'm not a paranoid kinda guy, but this happened way too often to be a coincidence...

Second is the sheer degree of cultural appropriation going on with businesses in the city proper. It's little things - e.g. shops and other businesses incorporating wide swaths of hiphop culture into their branding while having not a single Black owner, partner, employee, or vendor. And those businesses are KILLING IT here. This is a town where Blackness advances White-owned brands and subjects Black-owned businesses to inspection by law enforcement."

A 2014 report from the Charlottesville Task Force on Racial Disparities and Disproportionality offers some insights into Newman's point about policing in the city. It found that while just 8 percent of the city's youth are black and 41 percent are white, black kids are more than twice as likely to be arrested and to have multiple arrests. "Black youth were much more likely to be arrested as a result of a call for service from a resident than from an officer-initiated arrest," the report found.

"People are so busy going after that easy fix, going after that Confederate flag, that they're not doing the hard thing, which is thinking, how did we get here, and how the hell do we dig out of institutional racism," Newman told a local NBC station.

Charlottesville

Furthermore, racial biases can be held by people from both sides of the political spectrum. During the 2016 election, a Reuters/Ipsos surveyed about 16,000 Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters, asking them to "grade" personality traits they associated with black and white people.

"It isn't Richard Spencer calling the cops on me for farming while Black. It's nervous White women in yoga pants with 'I'm with Her' and 'Coexist' stickers on their German SUVs."

It might not come as a particular surprise that almost half of Trump supporters said they believed black people were inherently more "violent" and "criminal" than white people. This is an unfounded racial bias that could explain why black youth are disproportionately reported to the police, for example. But the poll also revealed that about one-third of Clinton supports held the same biases, in spite of the fact that her campaign and progressives in general are cast as champions of racial justice.

trumpcare-site

"It isn't Richard Spencer calling the cops on me for farming while Black," Newman wrote. "It's nervous White women in yoga pants with 'I'm with Her' and 'Coexist' stickers on their German SUVs."

Instead of protesting against fringe racist movements, progressives would do well to ask themselves, "why is my city like this? Why is life like this for Black people in my wonderful city?" Newman said. "The answer is a lot closer to home than Richard Spencer or Lee Park."

Check out a video interview with Newman from NBC here.

Read Newman's full Facebook post here: