America’s Black politicians have an extended history of calling out the nation’s racism. But few have taken to poetry and written that their city is “void of an ethical compass” and “rapes you of your breaths.”Nikuyah Walker, the primary Black woman to be mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, has posted poetry on Twitter and Facebook that has drawn national attention for descriptions of a picturesque college town that's indelibly linked to a slave-owning U.S. president and a deadly white nationalist rally.
“Charlottesville: The beautiful-ugly it's ,” Walker wrote on Wednesday. “It rapes you, comforts you in its (expletive) stained sheet and tells you to stay its secrets.”The mayor of the majority-white city within the Blue Ridge Mountains Mountain foothills followed up with a extended and cleaner version. Charlottesville, she wrote, “lynched you, hung the noose at hall and pressed the souvenir that was once your finger against its lips.”
It ends by stating that the town of 47,000 “is anchored in racism and rooted in racism. Charlottesville rapes you and covers you in sullied sheets.”Walker’s words have resonated with some who said she captured the Black experience while communicating within the same way many of us do these days: through artful expression on social media.
“This may be a new era of Black electeds,” said Wes Bellamy, a lover of Walker’s, a former Charlottesville vice mayor and interim chair of Virginia State University’s politics department.“We don’t follow an equivalent playbook that individuals used before,” said Bellamy, who has come under attack for his own tweets in years past. “We emote in several ways. We utilize technology in several ways to urge our points across.”
But others, including two of Walker’s fellow council members, said her rape metaphor was “hurtful to victims of sexual abuse and rape, and deeply unfair in how it presents Charlottesville to the planet .”“We shouldn't gloss over our difficult history of race relations,” council members Heather Hill and Lloyd Snook said during a joint statement. “But as elected officials, we must choose our words carefully.”
Hill and Snook, who are both white, said they were “appalled” at the threats Walker has received from the post. and that they said they will “only dimly understand the present-day impact of America’s history of slavery, lynching and sexualized violence toward Black people generally , and toward Black women especially .”
Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia. It’s where Jefferson , the third U.S. president, lived and owned Black Americans who were enslaved. They included Sally Hemings, who is widely believed by historians to possess born to many of Jefferson’s children.
Walker didn't answer an email from The Associated Press requesting comment. But on Thursday night, she offered no apologies during a Facebook live interview with Bellamy.“It did exactly what i used to be hoping that it might do, besides the everybody-across-the-country-talking-about-it part,” she said of her social media posts. “But I wanted it to hit a nerve.”
Walker grew up in Charlottesville and earned a bachelor’s degree in politics from Virginia Commonwealth University, consistent with her bio on the city’s website.The mother of three spent years working as a social justice advocate and held nonprofit jobs that included drug abuse clinician and HIV prevention educator. She was extensively utilized by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Walker ran for office as an independent and was elected to Charlottesville’s five-member council just a couple of months after the Unite the proper Rally in 2017.Hundreds of white nationalists had descended on the town partially to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Violence prompted authorities to force the rally to disband. Afterward, a lady was killed and dozens were injured when a car driven by a self-avowed supremacist plowed into a crowd of peaceful counterprotesters.
Walker said on Facebook Live that she was clear about who she was from the start .“You all said you wanted something different,” she said. “You all said you were hospitable being challenged.”Bellamy, who lives in Charlottesville, told the AP that the town has made tons of improvements in recent years. But he said there are still many Black people that lack hope and feel they need no opportunities.
“I’ve had tons of individuals say she told it exactly love it is,” he said of Walker. “And I’ve had some people say, ‘Help me understand why she used that language.’ But I haven’t heard an individual I’ve spoken to, specifically a Black , say that they didn't accept as true with what she said.”
Nadia Brown, a politics professor at Purdue University, said her research has found that a lot of black female leaders, especially within their own communities, are seen as relatable figures. and lots of have taken to social media to advance social justice causes, like Black Lives Matter.
“And so during this way, Mayor Walker is 100% in line with Black women elected officials, not just mayors but those that are serving in Congress,” Brown said.But, Brown added, Walker’s words could also provide fuel to those pushing back against the nation’s current reckoning with its past.Some of Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidates are already responding to Walker’s posts. Among them is Peter Snyder, an entrepreneur and former Fox News contributor who lives in Charlottesville.
“Unfortunately, this insanity has become more common among our extremist leaders in Richmond and across Virginia,” Snyder said, adding that “woke liberals focus, foster, and coddle Critical Race Theory and this type of extremism.”
[ News Source APNews ]