Virginia mayor apologies for calling Kamala Harris ‘Aunt Jemima’

'I understand what I posted on social media was wrong, offensive, and unbecoming,' says Barry Presgraves

Louise Hall
Saturday 15 August 2020 01:47
Trump promotes racist conspiracy that Kamala Harris is not eligible to run for VP

A Virginia mayor has issued an apology following racist comments he made on social media referring to Kamala Harris as “Aunt Jemima“.

Barry Presgraves, the mayor of Luray, Virginia, made a Facebook post on 2 August saying that “Joe Biden has just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick.”

The social media post came just over a week before presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden finalised Senator Harris as his choice for his running mate.

The mayor offered an apology regarding the post at a council meeting on Monday night, according to a number of reports.

“The last eight days have been the most difficult time for our community, my family, and me.” Mr Presgraves said according to NBC News.

“I want to make this very clear to everyone, with absolutely no qualifications. I understand what I posted on social media was wrong, offensive, and unbecoming.”

The initial post was met with a fierce backlash from residents, prompting Mr Presgraves to delete the comment.

“I also want to make a direct apology to all people of colour and women. Passing off demeaning and worn out racial stereotypes as humour isn’t funny,” the mayor reportedly added at the meeting.

“I now fully understand how hurtful it is. I can and will do better, and we can all do better. We must. From the bottom of my heart I am sorry and humbly ask for your forgiveness and your grace.”

The pancake mix brand logo has largely been considered a racist stereotype and is set to be removed later this year after the company acknowledged that its “origins are based on a racial stereotype”.

Following the post, Luray councilwoman Leah Pence urged the mayor in an email to resign.

“The comment you posted has a type of humour that not been appropriate or funny in my lifetime or yours,” she wrote.

“While a resignation alone will not resolve the systemic subliminal racism that plagues our community, your resignation is imperative as we work towards ending racism in our community,” Ms Pence added.

The councilwoman concluded: ”your recent actions have caused me and many citizens to lose faith and confidence in your capacity to effectively and justly serve as mayor of the town of Luray.”

The Town of Luray also issued a statement following the backlash that followed the initial post, condemning racism.

“We believe that our employees and every person in our community deserves fair and just treatment,” town officials wrote.

“The many voices of our community welcome all to Luray. The Town of Luray rejects racism and is committed to working together with the community through understanding, compassion, and opportunity.”

Mr Presgraves initially refused to apologise for the comment, telling Page Valley News that he “had no idea people would react the way they did.”

“I think people have gone overboard on this .. It’s an election year,” he previously told the newspaper, adding that he would not resign.

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