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Snapshots: Southeast Area Farmers’ Market story gets racist feedback

June 4, 2012

As communications person for Our Kitchen Table, I was pleased when M-Live did a brief story about the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market June 2 opening day. My job is to get the word out about the market and many people in the neighborhood look to M-Live for their news. The comments below the online piece we’re not pleasing. If you’re a GRIID regular, you know all about the ongoing racist comments made on M-Live. In fact, late GRIID reporter, Kate Wheeler, did an excellent job of bringing these types of comments to light and getting promises of action from M-Live staff to curb them.

In addition, a news blog, Michigan News, ran a link to the story with racist wording hacked into the headline and opening paragraph. Seeing these kind of attacks on the work that my team members and I are doing and knowing they were motivated by the snapshot of one of our African American market vendors felt like a swift kick to my stomach.

These comments are a snapshot of the racism that pervades our city, county, state and country. Another snapshot—that of Barack Obama, African American president, may tell a different story–the lie that we live in a post-racist society.  And that’s the trouble with snapshots.

We live in a snapshot culture that wants to forget the United States’ entrenched racist history… that even forgets racial injustice that happened a month ago. But the snapshot of Robert Tolbert with word “Plantation” inserted brought it all home. Racism is alive and kicking. It is part and parcel of our institutions (education, healthcare, transportation, military, prison system etc. etc.) and it infects the hearts and minds of our Grand Rapids area neighbors.

If you’re white and don’t consider yourself racist, that’s not enough. We’ve got to take an active stand. As Lila Cabbill, author of Accountability and White Anti-Racist Organizing: Stories from Our Work and president emeritus of the Rosa Parks Institute, told me at an OKT team staff meeting recently, “Only white people can wipe out racism.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dani Vilella permalink
    June 4, 2012 3:51 pm

    President Obama’s first name is spelled wring in this article. Just a heads up. Great article!

  2. Dani Vilella permalink
    June 4, 2012 3:55 pm

    Also – the link to the article on mlive (the first link above) takes me to an article with only three comments – none of which I would qualify as racist. Is the link correct? Have the offending comments been removed?

  3. Dani Vilella permalink
    June 4, 2012 3:55 pm

    ^ wrong (hahaha – see spelling is hard).

  4. dizzy permalink
    June 5, 2012 1:20 pm

    That language in the headline is definitely f—ed up over at

    However, I don’t think you can qualify that blog as “a news blog.” It’s just one of a million spam sites that used automated scrapers to pull content into their blog that they repost with the hope of getting visitors to click on their ads. Unfortunately by linking to them you increase the visibility of their site to search engines and the likelihood that their spamming will continue.

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