Racism Tourism: Virginia’s small town secret to revitalization.
A small southern town scandal when the news hit: The NAACP quickly acted to call out Local Holdings LLC (Olde Towne Butcher) and E.D. Cole Building LLC’s disgusting law suit against the City of Fredericksburg to stop the removal of the Auction Block on the corner of William and Charles street.
The Freelance Star sat on the comments from an email the owner of OTB sent to them for an entire day before running the same story written on The Richmond Times Dispatch without much more than a few quips from Keith Lebor about “…local politics overstepping their bounds and about preserving history” as if this old, mediocre white man who had to buy an entire, already existing business knows much about history, or running a meat business for that matter.
That isn’t very surprising from the FLS, a white owned and operated local newspaper that leans quite right with biased news and the type of letters to the editor and writer features that are published there. I’ve called out the FLS for their lack of diversity and sense too many times to type here today. What is more or less surprising is that at least they recognized the dog whistles Keith was spouting… and did nothing but withhold that information to the community. Since that is the case, I am here to break down the parts of the letter that has been published in an attempt to help you detect this level of racist whitespeak in the wild.
I like to call this, “Boomer Gaslighting an Entire City”
“There is nothing racist about me. I run a small business that employs 13 local people. I support local sustainability and agriculture. I donate thousands of pounds of food and thousands of dollars to our local community very year. These contributions help ALL people,” he wrote. “This suit is about local politics overstepping their bounds, and about preserving history.”
“The NAACP finds the lawsuit to be ill-conceived, shortsighted and contrary to the legitimate interests of the NAACP and the citizens of the city of Fredericksburg; and, moreover, finds it offensive the petitioners seek to profit from the vestiges of slavery.” Fredericksburg NAACP.
“There is nothing racist about me.” My dude, The NAACP literally wrote an entire letter telling you why your actions are in fact racist. Please.
“I run a small business that employs 13 local people.” I bought a small business that employs 13 local people, most of whom aren’t people of color, the POC I did employ were all slowly fired for no reason, all of whom I fucked by offering insurance and then getting rid of it because it wasn’t affordable to the people I employed. I am a micro manager that wanted to call everything wrapped in a tortilla “Mexican Style” and my own employees had to check me on that.
“I support local sustainability and agriculture.” Most of my suppliers are white.
“I donate thousands of pounds of food and thousands of dollars to our local community very year…” I only donate expired meat that I cannot sell, or if my freezers break and I need to get rid of food I won’t be able to sell. When reach about wether they accept food stamp benefits in the shop, I was told by an unsure employee over the phone that they take SNAP, “just not tonight…”
[…] These contributions help ALL people.” All Lives Matter lol/s
He added that he believes “that not all history is pleasant, all history is valuable in teaching us how to be better people and a better society.”
Yet having the Block in front of him there taught him not a fuck about being a better, more moral person, a person whom if he really cared about the “unpleasant” side of history and its value (a mild way to put the atrocities committed on his door step hundreds of years ago) then he would center the autonomy of the Black community in Fredericksburg about the way that their history will be told. The only value Keith cares when it comes to history is directly related to his bank account.
Keith said the quiet part out loud: that he wants to live in a society where he can continue economically gaining from Black Pain and he will use everything in his power as a rich, old, white man to uphold that. Even if it makes him look like a completely unhinged racist.
Whats most ironic to me is that the Daughters of the confederacy themselves moved to have the block removed, this block is after all a relic of the violent institution of slavery, something that they have fought to white wash and romanticize. They’d have rather preferred it moved and in its place some cutesty a-historical plaque that further propagates and upholds their vicious campaign claims to benevolent racism. It’s disgusting to think that for different reasons people want this removed and we all agree on that, except for these two business. Why?
The answer is simpler than we think, white supremacy exists to uphold capitalism in “America.”
For small Southern towns in America that means supporting, welcoming and accommodating out-of-town racists that come through to visit cemeteries and battlefields and spend money on other racist’s businesses, this is the bread and butter for a lot of businesses in Historic downtown districts. Think about it, if we took out all offensive objects and relics and any confederate symbols from just the Downtown/Main Street areas, you’d quickly hear the same cries Keith is championing.
Who is this mediocre, immoral white man to challenge the wishes of The People and think he can hold a city government accountable for a thing when he can’t hold himself accountable to stick with his own convictions and just say that he is the racist we all know him to be, by his actions and words.
In the end, they will make themselves irrelevant by their own bigotry.
One thing is certain, despite best efforts (Bless Their Little Hearts!) from the Daughters of the confederacy, we see that racism in all its forms goes hand in hand with capitalism. When money is on the line, even the most seemingly benevolent end up showing us who they are. The ugliness of racist capitalism rips through the facade of benevolence because capitalism and racism are in fact malevolent.
I confronted Racism Tourism in Fredericksburg for over three years before local businesses owners not so different from Keith formed an alliance to report me to the FPD and have me charged and eventually removed from the City of Fredericksburg as a public nuisance for instigating racial violence. Since then, I have been blessed to move in and around different cities, counties and small towns throughout the South but specifically here in Virginia doing social justice teaching and community advocating and I see a pattern in practice. Now that I am back organizing in FXBG I want to help bring light to these issues through my platforms, this weekend I will be publishing two pieces on what to look out for, why it matters and how we can fight back, This is part Two.
Here is Part One:
Reverend Doctor Leonina Arismendi Zarkovic crowned Mix Trans Latinx DMV 2020 is Politburo of the Virginia’s Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and Co-Director of Santos en Virginia, they are a language justice expert, award winning writer, poet and artist from Uruguay living in the US South.
Doctor Leo travels across the state teaching about Decolonization and fighting for immigrant justice in the South. If you like what you’re reading, consider donating $1 to ‘set the captives free’ through Santos en Virginia, a state-wide immigrant defense and bail fund (www.thesantos.org)