That Damn Critical Race Theory Must’ve Taught These White Politicians The N-Word
Jimmy Barnes, a city councilman from Fort Valley, Georgia, was arrested on July 12 and charged with aggravated assault and making terroristic threats. Barnes allegedly called a Black woman the “n-word" multiple times at a Highway 49 Food Mart and threatened to shoot her in the face.
Barnes was released last week on $50,000 bond, and despite modeling the latest in designer ankle monitors, he's still a member of the City Council. During a Zoom meeting, his colleagues declined to suspend him from his seat but did remove him from his committee chair position. You have to draw the line somewhere.
Fort Valley is 78 percent Black, so white politicians dropping the “n-word" doesn't seem like an ideal form of outreach. Fort Valley Mayor Barbara Williams, who's also Black, offered this statement on the incident, which sounds like one of the morals from the 1980s "He-Man" cartoon: “In the heat of the moment sometimes people don't know how to deescalate anger, we've seen it all over the country, everywhere."
I'm not sure anger management is the primary issue here. It's not like Barnes lost his cool and shouted, “Motherfucker, why are you paying for a carton of milk with a check?" He was as casually racist and violent toward a Black woman as, well, your average white asshole during a period in history schoolchildren can't learn about in Georgia.
Williams wasn't thrilled, though, with the committee's soft shoe treatment of Barnes, who's served on the council for 20 years.
I would like to have seen the removal from the committee chairman as well as a suspension for a period of time until the matter is resolved, that's what I would've like to have seen.
Yes, that's a no-brainer, but it's an election year. We assume Black voters will send Barnes's political career to that Quentin Tarantino film in the sky.
GOP city council member in Alabama says "do we have a house n****r in here?" to a Black woman on the council. This… https://t.co/6nUguChPkN— Fifty Shades of Whey (@Fifty Shades of Whey)1626840473.0
But Barnes isn't the only good old boy racist, by a long shot. Republican City Council member Tommy Bryant of Tarrant, Alabama, stood up during a meeting Monday and asked, "Do we have a house (n-word) in here?"
The 76-year-old Bryant dropped the "n-word" during an exchange with Wayman Newton, Tarrant's first Black mayor. Newton is 41 but I'm sure this wasn't his first time hearing the “n-word." Our version of a bar mitzvah is a white person calling us a racial slur: “Now you are a man! Or a boy, according to this racist asshole."
Bryant had previously admitted to calling Newton “a little boy" in a transparent attempt to provoke him into a fight, which Newton would've won. When reminded of the racist history of white people calling grown-ass Black men “boy," Bryant point out that he'd called Newton “little boy," as though that was somehow exculpatory.
During Monday's meeting, Newton raised his concerns with allegedly racist comments on Bryant's wife's Facebook page, and Bryant's literally gasp-inducing remarks came after someone present also accused his wife of using the “n-word" on Facebook.
From Bama Politics:
For the next few minutes, Bryant takes the floor and his points are scattered. Bryant and Newton have a few back and forth exchanges and Bryant complains about being interrupted by others in the past. Just after the 1 hour and 38-minute mark in the video, Newton takes the floor and brings up Bryant's wife and her social media posts. From there, the exchange grows with another city council member commenting about his wife's social media posts and Bryant defending himself stating that his wife does not speak for him.
“I am not my racist wife" is a legitimate position, but Bryant immediately escalated the situation to “I am myself a racist." That seems like a poor strategy.
Bryant pointed at Councilmember Veronica Freeman when he asked, "Do we have a house (n-word) in here?" This obviously upset Freeman, who started weeping into her hands before leaving the room. Bryant, who must feel very proud, claims he was only repeating something he'd heard Newton say, which Newton denies.
The meeting continued for another 30 minutes, as "racial tensions in the city" was discussed. Newton suggested a special town hall meeting about racism, which Bryant expressed ambivalence about attending.
The Alabama Democratic Party, from its secured location, has called for Bryant's resignation, correctly stating that he's racist and unfit to serve. Bryant won't resign, but he did offer a counter-proposal of instead running for mayor against Newton, who is a Republican himself and probably very confused in general.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl issued the following statement:
The Alabama Republican Party is deeply troubled by the racially charged outburst and disrespect shown by Councilman Tommy Bryant. Such language is completely unacceptable in any setting, and even more concerning coming from an elected official. We are proud to have Mayor Wayman Newton as a member of the Jefferson County Republican Party and deeply appreciate his commitment to serving his constituents honorably, even in the face of adversity.
Wahl is a supporter of Donald Trump's “America First" (wink) agenda, so this statement is as worthless as one of Trump's promises.
This has been yet another fun week in our totally non-racist country.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."