Trump boasted that he “made Juneteenth very famous” by the backlash his campaign sparked by inadvertently scheduling a rally on the day in Tulsa, according to a forthcoming book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender.
The episode and internal drama surrounding was recounted in an excerpt of the book, “Frankly We Did Win This Election’: The Inside Story of How Donald Trump Lost” published in Politico Magazine on Friday.
The Trump campaign didn’t know Juneteenth existed
Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale, who selected the date and location for Trump’s first rally in months, was apparently unaware of the date’s significance in America.
Trump’s announcing the rally’s date to reporters caused massive publish backlash, adding to the mounting criticism Trump had received for his response to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
Trump didn’t know about Juneteenth history until the blowback to his rally either and, according to Bender, was unaware that the White House had released public statements commemorating the day in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Bender reported that when Trump queried a Black Secret Service agent about whether he’d heard of the day, the agent told Trump it was “very offensive” to him that he’d decided to hold a rally that day. Ultimately, the rally was moved to the next day, June 20.
But in a 2020 interview with Bender, Trump claimed “nobody had heard of it” before his rally and that “I made Juneteenth very famous.”
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when Union soldiers went to Galveston, Texas to tell the last remaining enslaved Black Americans that they were free. While former President Lincoln Abraham signed the Emancipation proclamation in 1863, it went ignored in many southern states for the next two years.
Many major corporations made Juneteenth a company holiday in 2020, and on Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a bill passed by both chambers of Congress to make Juneteenth a federal holiday starting in 2021.
Additionally, the location that Parscale selected for the rally, Tulsa, is also the site of one of the deadliest outbreaks of racial violence in United States history.
In the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, a mob made up of white residents, with support from city officials, killed and injured hundreds of Black Tulsans and looted and destroyed countless businesses, eviscerating a vibrant business community – including a neighborhood called Black Wall Street.
In all, the mob is estimated to have killed as many as 300 Black residents of Tulsa and burned down huge swaths of the Greenwood business district. The riot also displaced thousands of Black Tulsans, with the Red Cross estimating that over 1,200 homes in the area were burned down and hundreds more looted.
The House on Wednesday passed bipartisan legislation to make June 19, known as Juneteenth, a national holiday celebrating the emancipation of people who were enslaved in the US.
The bill passed by 415-14 vote, with all votes against it coming from Republicans.
“It has been a long journey,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Houston and author of the bill, said on the floor. “This bill and this day is about freedom.”
The bill passed the Senate 24 hours earlier, winning unanimous support on Tuesday. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law ahead of this weekend’s annual celebration.
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, had been vocally opposed to the legislation, saying that it was too costly to give federal employees another day off work. But he ended his blockade of the bill on Tuesday, which allowed the Senate to move forward.
In the House Wednesday, Republican objections largely focused on process, with speakers complaining about the bill being fast-tracked without sufficient committee input. Rep. Clay Higgins, a Republican from Louisiana, objected to the name of the bill, the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act,” saying that it was “coopting” the Fourth of July. But he added that he supported it regardless.
Democrats, meanwhile, linked the creation of the holiday to fights for social justice.
“It’s also a recognition that we have so much work to do to rid this country of systemic racism, discrimination, and hate,” Rep. Brenda Lawrence, a Democrat from Detroit, said. “Juneteenth, what we are doing today, should empower us to fight even harder every single day for criminal-justice reform, for racial equality, and for economic empowerment of Black people in America.”
Juneteenth will become the US’s 11th federal holiday. The last one, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was added to the calendar nearly 40 years ago. The legislation will give federal employees a day off, and private companies are expected to follow suit.
On the campaign trail last year, Biden publicly commemorated the holiday by tweeting: “#Juneteenth reminds us of how vulnerable our nation is to being poisoned by systems and acts of inhumanity-but it’s also a reminder of our ability to change.
“Together, we can lay the roots of real and lasting justice, and become the extraordinary nation that was promised to all.”
Juneteenth, which has been celebrated since the late 1800s, comemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and announced that the region’s 250,0000 enslaved African Americans had been emancipated, thus ending slavery in the last Confederate territory.
The day came two years after President Abraham Lincoln read the Emancipation Proclamation and a few months after Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery and “involuntary servitude,” except as punishment for a crime.
“It’s long overdue to be recognized as a federal holiday,” Rep. Randy Weber, a Republican who represents Galveston, said Wednesday. “Juneteenth reminds us of the freedom so bravely defended by so many Americans,”
He added that it “reminds us we have a ways to go.”
Calls to make Juneteenth a national holiday, which has been in the works for years, gained momentum last year amid the nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a white Minneapolis police officer.
The Historic Square in Denton, Texas, is a sprawling lawn dotted with old oak trees. On weekends, it’s a destination for families and students from Denton’s two major universities. The historic County Courthouse is in the center, surrounded by a commercial strip with a few hip coffee shops, a pizza joint where indie bands play late into the night, an old-fashioned ice cream shop, and a bookstore.
For over a century – until last June 25 – there was also a Confederate monument: A 20-foot statue of a uniformed soldier over the words, “Our Confederate Soldiers.” And for the last two decades, nearly every week on Sunday afternoon, from 4 to 7pm, a Black resident of Denton named Willie Hudspeth would set up a lawn chair, some signs, and sit in protest.
The standoff finally came to an end one year ago, exactly one month after the killing of George Floyd, when under the cover of dark, county officials quietly dismantled the monument.
Hudspeth – a retired middle school teacher, Vietnam veteran, and leader of the local NAACP – was already 54 years-old when he started his protests; by the time he watched it come down, he was 75 and bent with age. On the infamous night, Hudspeth was there, hauled out of bed at 4 in the morning by allies who heard the commotion. Cell phone video caught Hudspeth’s shocked reaction, as buzzsaws could be heard cutting through concrete. “Thank god it actually happened,” he said in an interview the next day. But the secrecy around the removal was bittersweet. “For 21-years, I have been going down there, talking about removing the statue, and it’s just like these commissioners to do what they did.”
Today, there’s no trace of the monument on the Square. Denton has changed in other ways, too.
Hudspeth’s weekly protests were a catalyst for an investigation into Denton’s past – the legacy of Klavern No. 136, Denton’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan; the razing of the Black middle class district known as Quakertown; the dates that Black men were lynched in Denton County. At the end of 2020, Denton even elected its first Black mayor – a Republican who is also Hudspeth’s son.
“He read them for filth”
For Hudspeth, the whole thing started in 1999 with a seemingly innocuous proposal to turn on a pair of water fountains that were affixed to each leg of the monument’s arch. The consensus among county leaders, all of whom were white, was that the fountains had never been operable – that pipes would have to be put down for the fountains to work.
Denton’s Black residents remembered it differently; the fountains had definitely worked, and they were “white only.”
The fountains presented a mystery, and solving it required knowing the statue’s origin story. Around the turn of the 20th century when the South was emerging from Reconstruction to enter a new world order where Black people were now free, a few groups formed to remind everybody of how things used to be, and in their view, were supposed to be. One was the KKK, whose members sang in white churches on Sunday mornings and terrorized Black neighborhoods at night. White women who wanted to do their part could join the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).
And do their part they did-all across the South, as Jim Crow ramped up in the late 1800s and “The Birth of a Nation” hit theatres in 1915, the UDC and other similar groups fundraised to erect over 700 Confederate monuments in places of public prominence. A large majority were erected between 1900 and 1920, and tended to have a cookie-cutter look, reflecting the swift establishment under the perception of lost ground from the white South. Many of the statues feature a sculpted concrete image of a soldier atop arches or mounts emblazoned with “Our Confederate Soldiers” and a plaque honoring the sons conscripted into the War of Northern Aggression. The Denton Confederate monument went up toward the end of this era, in 1918, but with one distinction-the fountains on either side of the arch.
As the debate in 1999 turned increasingly contentious, a local historian dug up old newspaper clippings that showed the fountains in use. (Years later, in 2018, the county commissioned a ground test and confirmed that the fountains had indeed been operable.) But increasingly, it was a conversation that few wanted to have, and shutting it down meant tabling the water fountain discussion altogether. “Because,” Hudspeth says of the town, “it would show they were racist.” As Hudspeth saw it, Denton needed to deal with its past and, for that to happen, the fountains had to be turned on. “Turn them on,” became his battle cry. even before the fate of the monument was on the table. “Turn them on and let everyone drink.”
County leaders held firm. “I know for a fact that the memorial has never had an operable fountain,” Mary Horn, the chair of the Denton County Commissioner’s Court, which oversaw the monument, and who would spar with Hudspeth over the monument until her retirement in 2018, said at the time. “There is NO water line from the building to the memorial and never has been.”
Hudspeth started attending nearly every Commissioner’s Court meeting to talk about the monument. He showed up at City Council meetings. Katina Stone-Butler, a local artist, remembers stumbling upon Hudspeth on the local access TV channel in the nineties. “Just giving everybody the business,” she laughs. “He read them for filth.”
The Commissioner’s Court referred Hudspeth to the Denton County Historical Commission, which then referred him to the Texas Historical Commission, which then referred him back to the Commissioner’s Court. “They had me going in circles,” Hudspeth says. “Rabbit chases to wear me down.”
Finally, Hudspeth had had enough. If county leaders weren’t willing to engage with him, he would take the conversation to the Square. “[That] Willie was angry,” Hudspeth says, looking back. “He was angry at everybody and everything. My name was chaos. I wanted to create chaos wherever I could-and I mean everywhere.”
He was working then as a junk hauler but he had Sundays off. And so, on one Sunday in 1999, he held his first protest at the foot of the Confederate monument.
To the Black community in Denton, the city’s selective memory was nothing new. The forced relocation of Quakertown proved it.
In the decades after the Civil War. Quakertown was a thriving Black merchant district near the center of town. Denton was Denton-but Quakertown was theirs. There were Black doctors and lawyers and Black-owned shops.
But then, white Denton decided that Quakertown was in the way. The College of Industrial Arts, a school for white women, had been built on the edge of Quakertown, just beyond the Square. The town claimed the students needed more space for the ladies to walk safely from school. Plans had also been drawn up for a new Denton Civic Park – exactly where Quakertown then stood. As a historical marker set down in the park in 2013 puts it, “the civic-minded interests of Denton’s white residents threatened the future of Quakertown.”
In 1921, three years after the Confederate monument went up in Denton, the town voted to relocate the whole of Quakertown to Solomon Hill, a swampy cow pasture on the other side of the railroad tracks in southeast Denton, thus giving the white ladies their walking path to school. More than 60 families lost their homes and many residents left Denton altogether. It was the same year as the Tulsa Race Massacre, 270 miles north, when the city’s “Black Wall Street” was burned and 300 people were killed.
What happened to Quakertown sealed in a wound that has not healed to this day. Some of the old Quakertown homes still sit on cinder blocks from the hasty relocation. There was never an apology from Denton’s white leadership, much less compensation offered to those who had lost their community and livelihoods.
“I think it broke their spirit, really,” says Linnie M. McAdams, who is 83 and served as Denton’s first Black councilwoman. In the 1980s, she pushed to revitalize southeast Denton, where the grandchildren of the original Quakertown residents still live to this day, but she says that getting people involved in local politics was like pulling teeth.
Once McAdams, who had come to Denton as an adult, learned the history of Quakertown, things started making sense. “I didn’t understand the devastation of that move,” she says. “And what it did to those people to be moved out of their homes over to a god forsaken area with no city services. And the city was in no hurry to do anything about it.”
Katina Stone-Butler, an artist who also moved to Denton as an adult, described a similar experience. “Black people don’t really go on the Square,” Stone-Butler says. “There’s a spiritual barrier there because of the racist history of this county.”
With two major universities in town, a world-class School of Jazz, and progressive leadership on the city council, Denton enjoys a reputation as a blue dot amid the conservative Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
But to Stone-Butler, who is Black and co-hosts the podcast, Black History for White People, it’s the same old racism, just in a hipster outfit. “Coffee house, skinny jean racism,” she says.
A long, solitary protest
That first Sunday of Hudspeth’s protest, he set up a sign that read “God loves us all” – with a smiley face for the “o” in God – and sat down in a lawn chair at the base of the monument. And for years after that, rain or shine, he stuck with it. Often, he would strike up conversations with people about the history of the statue.
As the years passed, Hudspeth’s goals shifted – a fact that his detractors would seize on. At first, he wanted the fountains turned on, along with a plaque that would explain their history of Jim Crow segregation. Later, he said the monument should be moved to a museum.
If there was going to be a Confederate monument on public property, Hudspeth figured he would be its living presence, there to offer context and perspective. If the monument paid tribute to Confederate soldiers, as Horn and its defenders claimed, Hudspeth’s protests inspired a deep look at the past.
At times, students rallied behind him, though their efforts tended to come and go with the graduation cycles. In 2008, after students circulated a petition calling for the monument’s removal, the Denton County Historical Commission announced a plan for a Quakertown House Museum dedicated to Denton’s Black history.
In walking tours, blog posts and podcasts, the excavation of Denton’s racist past had started. Students found old newspaper clippings that revealed a KKK parade through Denton in 1921, more Klan activity alongside the raising of Quakertown, and Klan ties to city leadership. When Hudspeth discovered unmarked graves at the overgrown and unkempt St. John’s Cemetery, a plaque was ordered and work began to identify the dead and piece together their stories. Denton County lynchings were catalogued.
“Willie is a heat-seeking missile man of action,” says Shaun Treat, a local activist and historian. “He doesn’t quit.”
As Hudspeth continued his protest, the tension in Denton rose.
In 2015, after the words “This is Racist” were spray-painted on top of the monument, a white man confronted Hudspeth on the Square with a loaded AK-47, shouting “Counterprotest!”
The area had been thick with families and onlookers. When police arrived, the man forfeited his ammunition but was allowed to leave the scene with his rifle. He claimed that he was there “to make a point” and was never charged. Security in the Square ramped up after that.
Pressure was also building from outside.
The 2017 “United the Right” rally in Charlottesville brought things to a head. “That was a big one,” Hudspeth says. “We [Black Lives Matter] joined together, and chaos was on again.”
In 2019, Texas finally agreed to remove from its statehouse a plaque stating that the Civil War “was not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery.” Texas still observes Confederate History Month every April and, according to the Texas Observer, while the state had removed more Confederate symbols than any other, as of 2019, 68 remained.
Denton announced a new Confederate Memorial Advisory Committee, which included Hudspeth in its 15 members. When the committee voted 12-3 to keep the monument in place, but add a plaque decrying slavery and video kiosks dedicated to Black history in Denton, Hudspeth was one of the dissenting votes.
However, it was only a recommendation and the Commissioner’s Court, now led by Judge Andy Eads, needed to approve it. Eads ordered ground-penetrating tests that finally confirmed the fountains had been linked to pipes.
But then came COVID. And then, the killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Confederate statues were coming down across the south. In Denton, police shot and killed Darius Tarver, a young Black man in mental crisis. There were also renewed questions about the mysterious death of Lermont Stowers Jones two years earlier on Denton’s Old Alton Bridge, a rumored site of past lynchings.
Suddenly, it wasn’t just Willie Hudspeth protesting at the Confederate monument.
On June 9, 2020, the Commissioner’s Court approved an emergency request to the Texas Historical Commission to relocate the monument to protect it from “desecration.” When Denton woke up on the morning of June 25, the Confederate soldier was gone.
Hudspeth spends his Sundays at home with his wife of 52 years, who is happy to see him simmer down for once. But he still attends county meetings, as he says, to keep its leaders in check. And he shares his views with his son, Gerard Hudspeth, who was elected as Denton’s first Black Mayor in December 2020 and has largely stayed out of Denton’s debates about race.
“My dad and I still argue politics and sometimes it gets hot,” Mayor Hudspeth says. “I am what I am because of his modeling on how to serve and be active in your community.”
“He surprises me,” Hudspeth says of his son. “We still fight. But we laugh, too.”
Hudspeth chuckles and shakes his head. “He’s doing a good job.”
What comes next is up to the Texas Historical Commission, which in April approved plans to move the monument to Denton’s Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum. McAdams, the retired councilwoman, is pushing for a memorial honoring victims of lynchings in Denton County to be installed there, too.
“That statue is a tribute to the people who have mistreated me all my life,” she says. “It gives comfort and a sense of right to those people who are bigoted and filled with hate… a symbol of the good ol’ days when they had control and you didn’t have all these n*****s walking around everywhere. That’s what it says to them.”
As Stone-Butler, the Denton artist, sees it: “It’s not enough to move a monument that has been the physical gatekeeper of racism and systemic oppression. It needs to crumble to the ground.”
“If Denton wants to put up a monument,” Stone-Butler says. “They can put up a monument of Willie Hudspeth.”
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, signed into law on Friday a bill that bans “racially discriminatory mascots” and “sundown sirens,” which were once blasted nightly to tell non-white residents to leave town.
The legislation, Assembly Bill 88, prohibits schools and universities from using “any name, logo, mascot, song, or other identifier that is racially discriminatory or contains racially discriminatory language or imagery,” according to the bill.
Schools will only be permitted to use “an identifier associated with a federally recognized Indian tribe” if they first obtain permission from the tribe, according to AB88.
The same bill also prohibits the use of “sundown sirens.” These sirens were once popular in so-called “sundown towns” in the South and Midwest where non-white residents were ordered to leave town in the evening. These laws often targeted Black residents, though in some places were meant to exclude a town’s Native American population, according to a May report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Douglas County in Nevada, for example, remained a “sundown town” until 1974 when the law prohibiting Native American people after 6:30 p.m. was repealed. But the siren that alerted residents of law has remained in effect, sounding at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. every day in the town of Minden, according to the Review-Journal.
The siren was briefly turned off in 2006 by the then-county manager who said he aimed to improve the relationship between Douglas County and the local Washoe Tribe, but the county voted to turn the siren on again two months later to honor emergency personnel, the Courier-Journal reported at the time.
Assemblyman Howard Watts, a Democrat representing Las Vegas in the Nevada Assembly, added the “sundown siren” provision to AB88, according to the Review-Journal.
The bill signed Friday prohibits counties, cities, and towns from “sounding a siren, bell, or alarm at a time during which the siren, bell or alarm was previously sounded on specific days or times in association with an ordinance enacted by the county which required persons of a particular race, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin or color to leave the county or a city, town or township within the county by a certain time.”
“It is similar in some ways to people who display the Confederate flag and claim that they do it for a reason that is not racially discriminatory,” Watts told the Review-Journal. “We just have to recognize that for many people in this country – and speaking as somebody who’s descended from enslaved people in this country – that is hurtful to see.”
Last year, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Uber-owned Postmates spent a record $203 million to convince California voters to pass Proposition 22, a company-authored ballot measure that let them avoid paying for new benefits the state had recently extended to their workers.
The companies said Prop 22, which created a new class of workers subject to different labor laws, would be a boon for workers of color and immigrants, who make up the vast majority of their drivers and delivery people.
But a forthcoming research paper by UC Hastings law professor and gig economy expert Veena Dubal argues that, despite the companies’ promises that Prop 22 would help achieve racial and economic justice for their workers, the law has had the exact opposite effect.
The new category of workers created by Prop 22, Dubal wrote, “is best understood as a new form of legalized racial subordination-lower wages and benefits for a people of color and immigrant workforce.”
Ride-hailing and food-delivery companies have pitched this hybrid employment status as an innovative “third way” to classify workers that offers the independence of being a contractor and some of the benefits that come with being an employee.
According to Dubal, such proposals are hardly innovative, and in fact look strikingly like discriminatory “wage codes” passed in the 1930s at the request of racist industrialists and plantation owners.
While those laws weren’t explicitly racist, their effects were. By exempting employers with mostly Black workforces, wage codes denied those workers minimum wage, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and unionization rights enjoyed by workers in majority white industries.
Dubal argues that Prop 22 is a recycled version of those racialized wage codes, and that this time around, companies used social justice arguments to persuade people it would have the opposite result.
Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
“There is a long history of systemic racism in traditional hiring practices, which is one of the reasons app-based work and the open access to earning opportunities it provides is valued by so many Californians,” Geoff Vetter, a spokesperson for the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Coalition, told Insider. (PADS, formerly called Yes on 22, was created and funded by the above companies to generate public support for Prop 22).
Co-opting racial justice language
Last August, Uber plastered 13 major cities with billboards that read: “If you tolerate racism, delete Uber,” timed to its sponsorship of a march commemorating the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
In September, Lyft aired a commercial featuring Maya Angelou reading her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” to announce its plan to provide subsidized rides to underserved communities during the pandemic.
“NAACP California, California State National Action Network, Hispanic 100, Si Se Puede Foundation, Black Women Organized for Political Action, and other trusted social justice leaders and civil rights organizations” supported Prop 22, Vetter told Insider.
The PR campaigns came amid a summer of uprising against police brutality and systemic racism, which in turn put pressure on companies to address racism within their own walls.
But the campaigns faced swift backlash from drivers and driver advocates who called them “gaslighting” and hypocritical.
The “delete Uber” language originally came from angry customers boycotting Uber for sending drivers to JFK airport during a taxi driver strike in protest of Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban. Lyft cherry-picked Angelou’s words, omitting her lines critiquing exploitative labor practices (while research shows that Uber and Lyft reduce revenue for public transit, on which communities of color disproportionately rely).
But the bigger hypocrisy, Dubal argues, is that the companies were “highlighting particular forms of racial subjugation, while ignoring and profiting from others” – namely, the racial subjugation of their own workers.
“New racial wage code”
During the Great Depression, Congress established the first federal minimum wage law, social security benefits, and union rights in a major win for workers.
But “racist demands” from industrialists and plantation owners led Congress to exclude agricultural and domestic workers – the majority of whom were Black – from those laws, subjecting them to seperate and unequal workplace conditions, according to Dubal.
Those exemptions let companies pay primarily Black workforces 20% to 40% less than the minimum wage, Dubal found, citing research by historian Donna Hamilton, “undermining the economic stability of Black communities for decades to come.”
Prop 22 isn’t much different, Dubal argues, but this time, companies are masking their arguments in racial justice arguments and confusing legalese rather than openly racist terms.
In 2019, California passed AB-5, extending long-standing minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and other protections to gig workers. After regulators and courts rejected claims by Uber and Lyft that AB-5 didn’t apply to them, the industry banded together to pass Prop 22, touting it as a boon to workers.
“Prop 22 guaranteed all drivers would earn at least 120% of minimum wage plus 30 cents per mile compensation toward expenses,” Vetter told Insider, pointing to claims by Uber, DoorDash, and Instacart that drivers are making more under the new law. (Companies’ earnings claims are difficult to evaluate because they refuse to share detailed pay data with the media, regulators, and independent researchers).
Dubal argues the bigger issue is that Prop 22 provides far less than what those workers should already have been receiving as employees under AB-5.
Under Prop 22, companies can: pay workers for only some of the hours they work; refuse to offer overtime pay, sick leave, family leave, and paid time off; cover just a fraction of healthcare costs; reimburse vehicle costs at barely 50% of the rate guaranteed to employees; provide bare-bones insurance that can leave drivers hanging out to dry; and avoid paying into unemployment and disability programs, shifting the burden to taxpayers.
These “second-class” labor protections, as Dubal describes them, become more problematic given the demographics of the workers subject to them. Lyft estimates that 69% of its drivers are people of color; one study estimates that, among all ride-hailing and food delivery workers in San Francisco, 78% are people of color and 56% are immigrants.
Ultimately, with Prop 22, Dubal wrote, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates “obscured the way in which the law created a new racial wage code, claiming instead to offer economic opportunities for people of color and concealing the exploitative conditions endemic to those ‘opportunities.'”
“iCarly,” which is set to premier on Paramount+ on June 17, is a remake of the Nickelodeon show that ran from 2007 to 2012. It stars Miranda Cosgrove as Carly Shay, who runs a web show with her friends. In the new series, Carly and her friends will be “navigating work, love, and family in their 20s,” according to EW.
A post shared by Miranda Cosgrove (@mirandacosgrove)
Following the tweet and subsequent comments from Laci Mosley, a Black actor set to join the cast of “iCarly”, Insider spoke to experts with experience in the way people of color are treated in the entertainment industry. They highlighted the pervasive racism from online trolls, many of whom struggle to accept diversity being newly introduced into television shows, and the importance of speaking out in order to effect change.
Laci Mosley spoke out about racist abuse she’d received from fans who were angry she was joining the ‘iCarly’ cast
It was announced in March that Mosley, an actor best known for her role in the sitcom “Florida Girls” and her podcast “Scam Goddess,” would be joining the cast in the role of a new character called Harper, who will live with Carly.
While many of the original cast, including Cosgrove, Jerry Trainor, and Nathan Kress, are returning to the reboot, fans noticed that the character Sam Puckett, played by Jennette McCurdy, was missing.
This appears to have led to backlash towards Mosley on social media, with fans angry that a beloved white character is not present, but a Black woman is.
“Laci’s character Harper isn’t replacing Sam,” Ramsey tweeted, following up with statements from her fellow writers condemning the racism. “No one could replace Jeanette McCurdy or her incredible talent! But it’s both racist as hell & completely unfair to decide that Laci hasn’t earned her role especially since the show isn’t even out yet!!”
Mosley tweeted that she had received racist TikTok videos and social media comments since the announcement, and it had broken her heart. She said “being a Black woman is exhausting” and “we all deserve better.”
“I was shocked when a celebration of all the hard work we’ve put into making this reboot was overshadowed by the most racism I’ve ever experienced in my life over the course of 72 hours,” she said. “I felt silly being so upset because I’ve been in this little brown body my entire life and racism isn’t new but it still hurts.”
A post shared by Laci Mosley (@divalaci)
‘When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression’
The issue of racist backlash against women of color in entertainment is widespread. Amina Smith, a former Stadium Sports Network host who is now the on-air talent for NBC Boston Sports, told Insider she has experienced racism in many different ways. She’s had people calling her the N-word slur in messages, and has been told she’s not qualified for her job because she is simply filling a “Black quota.”
“It sickens me to see that people who have never met you have so much hate for you just based on what you look like,” she said, adding that anonymity makes it easier for people to be comfortable spewing hate.
“I think people often detach celebrities from being actual humans that can hear, see, and feel the hate that comes their way,” she said. “All of this just shows that racism isn’t something of the past and unfortunately, very much a reality in this country.”
Cheryl L. Bedford is the founder of social action organization Women of Color Unite, which focuses on fair treatment and fair pay for women of color in the entertainment and media industries. She told Insider that racism directed at the success of Black people is a blatant example of “when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
Seeing more Black talent taking starring roles can cause an angry reaction from some white people because they are so used to being centered in every conversation, she said.
“Content has always been seen through the white male cis-gender heterosexual gaze,” she said. “So as we get more and more diverse, you will have that backlash.”
It’s particularly apparent when shows are rebooted because people tend to have a nostalgic attachment to them, she said, and don’t like to see them changed – especially when the show wasn’t initially diverse.
“They have these feelings from childhood that come up,” Bedford said. “What they fail to realize is that people like me, we never saw ourselves in that. You might be attached to it. We’re not. And if you want our dollars, you got to put us in it.”
That fallout is a spectrum, from casually racist comments to rampant, hateful abuse. And it will continue to increase until diversity is the norm, Bedford said.
“The work that I do is exhausting. The emotional energy that comes from calling things out over and over and over again is exhausting,” she said. “But it’s the work that needs to be done because we have to get to the point where it is normalized.”
The hateful campaign highlights a gendered form of anti-Black racism
Tyler Parry, an assistant professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Nevada, told Insider that directing racist hate towards people of color cast in television shows is common.
“This has been a pretty consistent thought process amongst racists on the internet,” he said. “Where even before the show begins, it is doomed for failure in their minds, simply because the network had the audacity to recast the part for better representation.”
He thinks campaigns of targeted harassment can be intended to psychologically damage the actor, but also to put pressure on the studio to recast them with another white person.
“We also have to consider that this is a gendered form of anti-Black racism, and this is just the most recent manifestation of that,” he said. “And I think that’s important because it does seem that Black women are the ones most targeted by these campaigns.”
Support from allies is vital to send a message that racism should not be tolerated
Philip McKenzie, the chief strategy officer at MediaVillage and the executive director of AdvancingDiversity.org, told Insider that when racist abuse happens, it is important for casts, productions, and studios to have a united front against the hate “to not only support the talent that is under attack but to send a clear message to fans this behavior is not tolerated or welcome.”
The Instagram account for “iCarly” on Paramount+ shared a statement following the tweets, saying the racist attacks were “not acceptable.” It was shared by Mosley’s costars Cosgrove and Trainor, who added that he never wanted to hear the phrase “iCarly fans are racist” ever again.
“Our company is proud to uphold the values of inclusivity and collaboration, where we work to embrace new and diverse voices, act with care, and work together,” it reads. “The upcoming Paramount+ iCarly series is one of many examples of this commitment, and we support our entire cast and crew and stand against all instances of hate and racism.”
Some experts think studios could do more. Marc Morial, the president and CEO of the civil rights organization National Urban League who has fought against racism in Hollywood, told Insider that in order for people of color to see themselves in the stories that shape our worldview, diversity and inclusion needs to be pursued “at every level and in every facet of the entertainment industry.”
“It is just as important for white America to see people of all races, ethnicities, and cultures represented realistically in the media they consume,” he said.
Bedford said this means hiring more people of color as writers, producers, and directors because “the marginalized can write for the ones in power.”
“The opposite is not true,” she said.
Insider has reached out to Paramount representatives for comment.
A post shared by Jerry Trainor (@jerrytrainor)
Parry said that with the rise of social media, even a small collective of online trolls “can have a very big voice.”
“It does amplify people who have prejudices that they want to let loose and unleash on specific groups,” he said.
The support shown for Mosley has also been huge though, according to her recent tweets.
“I just want to thank you all for being so kind and uplifting me over the past few days,” she said on May 19. “I can’t believe how a scenario that started out so negative has become SO overwhelming positive.”
“We assess those upcoming commemoration events associated with the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre in Oklahoma probably are attractive targets for some racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist-white supremacists to commit violence,” the department said, according to a memo obtained by NBC News.
The memo did not mention any specific events, but Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said that his forces have plans in place to ensure a Monday visit by President Joe Biden goes smoothly.
“We are going to be hopefully overprepared. I want a bunch of policemen working, and my hope is none of them have to take any action, but we are prepared if need be,” he said during a press conference.
Franklin also said that the public should remain vigilant throughout the weekend, and should report sightings of unattended packages and large vans in odd places. “If anyone sees anything suspicious, across our city, report that, ” he added.
The Tulsa race massacre saw mobs of white residents attack Black residents and businesses in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. Somewhere between 30 and 300 people died, mostly Black people, according to the Britannica Encyclopedia.
The massacre destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the wealthiest Black community in the US, CNBC said.
It has been referred to as the “single worst incident of racial violence in American history,” according to the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Fox News personality George Murdoch downplayed America’s history of slavery while arguing during a Fox News appearance on Wednesday that critical race theory shouldn’t be taught in elementary and high schools.
“As far as teaching our multicultural classrooms about race in this country, I think we need to start where we’re at and acknowledge our history. But when you look at slavery in this country opposed to the world, 400 years is still too long, but at the same time other countries dealt with it for thousands of years, where America was able to get it — in a relatively short amount of time in terms of our history — to get slavery out of the way.” ” he said on the daytime news show “America’s Newsroom.”
It took the US almost 100 years after signing the Declaration of Independence — and a civil war — to abolish slavery. Slaves were first brought to Virginia in 1619 and made up a significant portion of the US population for about 250 years.
Critical race theory emerged out of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and 70s and holds that many American laws and systems are structurally racist and that most people of color suffer from racism on a daily basis.
It’s unclear what Murdoch’s argument about the length of slavery in America has to do with the anti-racist theory.
Republicans have aggressively campaigned against the Biden administration efforts to encourage schools to teach students about the history of slavery and its impacts, including systemic racism.
Biden hasn’t proposed any changes to school curricula, but conservative state legislatures across the country have moved to ban critical race theory, which they call a “Marxist doctrine,” from being taught in public schools. They’ve also opposed The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project being taught to students.
Former President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers have leaned into the campaign, attempting to fuel anger among the party’s base. Fox has heavily covered the topic, often celebrating the backlash against anti-racist teachings. A Fox spokesperson didn’t immediately provide comment to Insider.
Murdoch, who was formerly a professional wrestler known as “Tyrus,” was accused of sexual harassment in 2019 by his former Fox co-host Britt McHenry. McHenry, then a Fox Nation host, sued Fox News for retaliation after she accused Murdoch of sexual misconduct. After she brought her allegations to Fox executives, Murdoch was promoted to host his own show on the network’s streaming service.
Former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard accused Lori Lightfoot of “anti-white racism” after the Chicago mayor announced Wednesday that she would only be interviewed by minority reporters for the two-year anniversary of her inauguration, sparking backlash from press corps members and other politicians.
“I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many,” Lightfoot, who is Black, tweeted Wednesday. “That isn’t just in City Hall. It’s a shame that in 2021, the City Hall press corps is overwhelmingly White in a city where more than half of the city identifies as Black, Latino, AAPI or Native American.”
She added: “This is exactly why I’m being intentional about prioritizing media requests from POC reporters on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of my inauguration as mayor of this great city.”
Gabbard weighed in on Lightfoot’s decision on Friday, calling for Lightfoot’s resignation in response to her comments earlier this week.
“Mayor Lightfoot’s blatant anti-white racism is abhorrent,” Gabbard tweeted Friday. “I call upon President Biden, Kamala Harris, and other leaders of our county-of all races-to join me in calling for Mayor Lightfoot’s resignation. Our leaders must condemn all racism, including anti-white.”
Gabbard’s tweet trended on Twitter on Friday, with some users on the social media platform slamming the former congresswoman for using the term “anti-white.”
“To choose a reporter based on the color of their skin is really pretty outrageous,” Ahern said, citing a report by USA Today. “Does she think I’m racist? Is that what she’s saying?”
Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt tweeted Wednesday saying he was granted an interview with the mayor but declined after her office refused to lift the condition.
“I am a Latino reporter @chicagotribune whose interview request was granted for today,” Pratt tweeted. “However, I asked the mayor’s office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully canceled.”
“Politicians don’t get to choose who covers them,” Pratt continued.
The Triibe, a Chicago-based digital news outlet aimed at “reshaping the narrative of Black Chicago,” according to its website, pushed back against the criticism directed at Lightfoot for prioritizing interviews with reporters of color.
“With this outrage, y’all are implying that Black and Brown journalists aren’t capable of asking the hard questions,” the media platform tweeted Wednesday, along with a photo of one of their reporters interviewing the Chicago mayor.
The House on Tuesday passed a bill that addresses the rise in violence and discrimination against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lower chamber approved the legislation, called the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, in a 364-62 vote.
The bill directs the Department of Justice to expedite the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes, provide guidance to state and local governments to improve public reporting on hate crimes, and raise awareness about hate crimes during the public health crisis.
Democratic Rep. Grace Meng of New York, who championed the bill, said it makes clear that hate against Asian Americans is “unacceptable” and “will not be tolerated.” The legislation also demonstrates that “Congress has the Asian American community’s back,” she added.
“An attack on the Asian American community is an attack on all of us,” Meng said during a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
The bill’s passage comes after the Senate overwhelmingly approved it 94-1 last month in a rare bipartisan effort. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri was the lone “no” vote, arguing it was “too broad.”
The federal government has been under pressure to respond to the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic. The nonprofit group, Stop AAPI Hate, has reported 6,603 incidents of physical assault, shunning, verbal and online harassment, and civil-rights violations against AAPI communities in the US from March 2020 to March 2021.
Meng and fellow Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii introduced the legislation in March in the wake of a mass shooting at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area that killed eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent. The deadly attack sparked national outrage over the uptick in anti-Asian violence coinciding with the spread of COVID-19 across the country and former President Donald Trump elevating terms such as “Chinese virus” and “kung flu.”
“Those of Asian descent have been blamed and scapegoated for the outbreak of COVID-19 and as a result Asian Americans have been beaten, slashed, spat on, and even set on fire and killed,” Meng said on Tuesday. “We are here today to say that Congress is taking action.”