Who knew! Those fluffy white cotton balls on display in your favorite floral arrangement or in your bathroom cabinet?
They just might be r-a-a-a-c-i-s-t!
At least some people in Texas and Tennessee apparently think so.
On Sept. 14, Daniell Rider, a black woman from Killeen, Texas, ripped into the Hobby Lobby craft chain when she spotted raw cotton on its shelves.
“This decor is WRONG on SO many levels,” Rider said in a post on Hobby Lobby’s Facebook page. “There is nothing decorative about raw cotton … A commodity which was gained at the expense of African-American slaves.”
Rider blasted Hobby Lobby, suggesting the store is being insensitive with its decision to sell raw cotton.
“A little sensitivity goes a long way,” she said. “PLEASE REMOVE THIS ‘decor.'”
Rider’s post has been shared nearly 21,000 times and received more than 223,000 comments. Some agreed with Rider, but many others accused her of being “oversensitive”:
- “Ummm… it’s cotton… its 2017… do you know some slaves in 2017 that picked this cotton and didn’t get paid for it?” one person asked.
- “This is crazy. Cotton is a fact of life. People still pick it. That happened 150 years ago. Slaves also picked tobacco, harvested rice and many other things. We can’t just get rid of them. Well, Lowe’s sells chains and rope. You think they should get rid of that too?” asked another.
- “What do you expect from [Hobby Lobby]!!!? NEVER shop there!” wrote one person who apparently agreed with Rider’s assessment.
- “Boycott Hobby Lobby,” a Facebook comment said.
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Meanwhile, in Nashville, Tennessee, Lipscomb University President Randy Lowry has issued an apology because he apparently didn’t get the memo on “racist” cotton balls, either.
Lowry hosted a private dinner at his home for black students to discuss their campus experiences, and he had displayed cotton stalk centerpieces at the event.
So I attend Lipscomb university and as most of you know that is a predominately white school. Tonight AFRICAN AMERICAN students were invited to have dinner with the president of the school. As we arrived to the president’s home and proceeded to go in we seen cotton as the center pieces. We also stood and ate dinner, there were no seats to sit in and it felt very uncomfortable. We were very offended, and also the meals that were provided resembled many “black meals” they had mac n cheese, collard greens, corn bread etc. The night before Latinos also had dinner at his house and they had tacos. They also DIDN’T have the center piece that we HAD tonight. A couple of minutes went by, the president was coming around and asking for our names and what our major was. He finally got to our table and my friend @kay_cyann asked why there was cotton on the table as the center piece. His response was that he didn’t know, he seen it before we did, he kind of thought it was ” fallish”, THEN he said “it ISNT INHERENTLY BAD IF WERE ALL WEARING IT” then walked off. Later on all of us that were there were invited into the home, and we had the impression that we were coming to speak about how us as Black people feel about Lipscomb. The whole entire time we were in their home they only talked about themselves (how they met, got married and ended up at lipscomb) & the ONLY question that we were asked was our transformation coming to lipscomb. A couple of women answered the question but they sugar coated it. They said any other questions that we may have can be emailed to the advocate for the Latinos and that a second meeting may be held. Also we don’t have an advocate on campus, the only African American advocate we had, no longer works here. The only advocate available to us is the advocate for the Latinos. They claim to have funding for minorities, BUT you have to live up to the expectations of a typical Black family to even get the 1000$.There is NO FUNDING for just us black students.
After the complaints began rolling in, Lowry apologized for displaying his cotton centerpieces.
“Several students shared with me their concern about the material used for centerpieces which contained stalks of cotton,” he said in a Sept. 15 statement to the Lipscomb community that the university posted to Twitter. “The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity. I sincerely apologize for the discomfort, anger or disappointment we caused and solicit your forgiveness.”
Lowry added: “I have heard from a number of students who would like to spend more time together engaging in conversation. I am most pleased to do so either in small groups or individually.”