It may come as a shock that a major metropolitan city mayor would receive racist text messages. However, those that live in the south have decades of stories and historical context to keep them being blind-sighted by hate speech against their black leaders. The anonymous texts came days after Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms publically disagreed with Governor Kemp’s decision to reopen. For those inside and OTP know T.I. said it best when he posted, “IDGAFWKSYBSYBAITMFH! -YKWTFGO.” Translation:
“I Dont Give A F**k What Kemp Says, Y’all Better Stay Ya Black Asses In The MF House! Y’all Know What the F**k Go On,” for those that dont know.
Mayor Bottoms opposed Governor Kemp’s decision to reopen, especially salons and tattoo parlors as there is no way to social distance during a haircut or tattoo. Mayor Bottoms said that she has been in contact with the mayor of Augusta, Georgia’s second largest city, and confirmed that they also had not been included in the decision to reopen the state. Ms. Tina Knowles-Lawson, who owned her a hair salon for many years, chimed in on her Instagram with a video to her followers. She noted how strange the types of businesses allowed to reopen.
“We know what time it is.” -Ms. Tina Knowles-Lawson
Mayor Bottoms went on to explain that there isnt a clear path forward yet and not enough testing has been done. Kemp only gave the state and its leaders a few days notice. Atlanta, like much of the country, is not prepared to reopen, so Bottoms advised everyone to continue to social distance. Nothing for her city or its surrounding towns would change in the coming weeks.
The day of reopening came and so did the racist texts. The Atlanta mayor sited that the president’s xenophobic language and cult-like influence was to blame. The POTUS has continuously used racist language to describe the coronavirus which has caused reports of hate crimes against Chinese and other Asian-Americans to skyrocket. Mayor Bottom’s correlation echoed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sentiment:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
The city of Atlanta has the one highest rates of Black displacement, i.e. gentrification, in the U.S. With decades of decline of the city’s majority Black population, projections show even bigger declines in the next twenty years. Locals wonder what Kemp has to gain from encouraging Atlanta’s Black and Brown essential workers to unnecessary exposure. If we know our historical context, we can recognize colonialism and capitalism from a mile away.