During a virtual event for former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign on Monday, Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge falsely implied that reopening certain businesses was — you guessed it — racist.
The event featured failed presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris, who recently endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee despite all but accusing him of racism just months before.
Other prominent black figures joined them in the livestream event dubbed, “Confronting Coronavirus: Addressing Impacts & Disparities in the Black Community.”
The discussion touched on many topics, including states that have begun to reopen certain businesses that had been closed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“You know, they opened the beauty salons and the barber shops and the bowling alleys and the movie theaters,” Fudge began. It wasn’t entirely clear if she was referring to a specific state, though Georgia has taken steps to allow all of those businesses to reopen.
“When they start opening up the country clubs and the tanning spas, then I’m going to go to one, that’s first,” she said as other members of the panel smiled and nodded in agreement.
“Because they’re just opening up the things black people go to because they know we’ve got these checks and they want us to spend them,” Fudge said, apparently referring to the recently issued coronavirus relief checks and grossly insinuating that members of the black community who received money will be enticed to spend it at their peril.
“They don’t care about our safety,” she charged, although it’s baffling why she thinks that only black people want to bowl, go to the movies or get haircuts.
“That’s why when they start to open up things they go to, then I’ll understand it’s time to start for them to open up some things for us.”
Ironically, Fudge dropped the accusation as a preamble to her answer about helping black-owned small businesses.
What she does not seem to realize is that it’s important to try to get everyone back to work as quickly — and safely — as possible, because every day those businesses are closed, owners and employees alike lose money and move ever closer to financial ruin.
There is a ripple effect on the economy from government-imposed coronavirus-related shutdowns, and the consequences (skyrocketing unemployment, more poverty) do not discriminate on the basis of race.
The worst part of her accusation is that not only is it an unfair characterization of those who wish to get back to business, but her generalizations about customers’ racial profiles are downright offensive.
Many on social media expressed these sentiments:
Do people of other races not cut hair, or get haircuts, go to or work at restaurants, movies, etc? Ridiculous comment
— GB (@GBtablereads) April 27, 2020
I don’t go to tannings spas or country clubs. It made for a good laugh though. Last I checked, pretty much everyone goes to the movies as well as hair stylists/barbers.
— Liz 🇺🇸✝️ (@NurseLiz3) April 28, 2020
Surprise, she’s lying. Golf courses are being opened up and they generally are associated with country clubs.
— Mike Crash Letalien (@Coach_Crash) April 27, 2020
It’s also worth noting that some country clubs are already reopening.
Golf Advisor listed a number of states where golf courses (which are often connected to country clubs) are set to reopen. As for Georgia specifically, “private social clubs” (which one images would encompass country clubs) have been permitted to reopen, according to WSB-TV.
Tying race to coronavirus issues likely made sense to Fudge, as the discussion was about how the pandemic impacts the black community.
However, her sweeping generalizations about the reasons that certain businesses are open and who patronizes them are outrageous, and would rightly be called racist if anyone else made them.
People of all races and ethnicities enjoy a trip to the movies or bowling alley, and certainly require time in a salon or barber chair as a matter of hygiene. Folks who own those dying businesses and the people who work for them are eager to get back to work.
This kind of talk does nothing but sow the seeds of racial division rather than tackle any true inequalities. If ever there were an issue that should unite the whole human race, the fight against a potentially deadly virus is it.
Unfortunately, Fudge was too being offended to notice.
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