Michelle Obama ‘ape in heels’ post causes out­rage

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

A racist Face­book post about Michelle Obama has caused a ma­jor con­tro­versy in­volv­ing a town mayor in the US state of West Vir­ginia.

Pamela Ram­sey Tay­lor, who runs a lo­cal non-profit group in Clay County, re­ferred to the first lady as an “ape”.

“It will be re­fresh­ing to have a classy, beau­ti­ful, dig­ni­fied first lady in the White House. I’m tired of see­ing a Ape in heels,” she said.

Lo­cal mayor Bev­erly Whal­ing re­sponded with “just made my day Pam”.

Ms Whal­ing is mayor of the town of Clay, which has a pop­u­la­tion of just 491.

It has no African Amer­i­can res­i­dents, ac­cord­ing to the 2010 cen­sus. In Clay County as a whole, more than 98% of its 9,000 res­i­dents are white.

De­spite the small pop­u­la­tion in the re­gion, the con­tro­ver­sial Face­book post spread across United States and in­ter­na­tional me­dia out­lets, and a pe­ti­tion call­ing for both women to be ter­mi­nated from their po­si­tions has col­lected more than 85,000 sig­na­tures.

The Wash­ing­ton Post and New York Daily News re­ported that Ms Tay­lor was re­moved from her po­si­tion on Mon­day.

She told lo­cal news out­let WSAZ, which first car­ried the story, that she ac­knowl­edged her Face­book post could be “in­ter­preted as racist, but in no way was in­tended to be”, and that she was ex­press­ing a per­sonal opin­ion on at­trac­tive­ness, not the colour of a per­son’s skin.

She told the news sta­tion she was con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion for slan­der against un­named in­di­vid­u­als.

The Clay County De­vel­op­ment group, of which Ms Tay­lor is the di­rec­tor, is partly funded through state and fed­eral grants, and the group pro­vides ser­vices to elderly and low-in­come res­i­dents.

In a state­ment given to the Wash­ing­ton Post, Mayor Whal­ing said: “My com­ment was not in­tended to be racist at all” and apol­o­gised for the com­ment “get­ting out of hand.”

“I was re­fer­ring to my day be­ing made for change in the White House! I am truly sorry for any hard feel­ing this may have caused! Those who know me know that I’m not of any way racist!” she said.

Owens Brown, di­rec­tor of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple West Vir­ginia chap­ter, said it was “un­for­tu­nate that peo­ple still have th­ese racist un­der­tones”.

“Un­for­tu­nately, this is a re­al­ity that we are deal­ing with in Amer­ica to­day. There’s no place for th­ese types of at­ti­tudes in our state.”

West Vir­ginia Demo­cratic Party Chair­woman Belinda Bi­afore is­sued an apol­ogy to Michelle Obama “on be­half of my fel­low Moun­taineers”, re­fer­ring to a nick­name for in­hab­i­tants of the state.

“West Vir­ginia truly is bet­ter than this. Th­ese rad­i­cal, hate­ful, and racist ideals are ex­actly what we at the West Vir­ginia Demo­cratic Party will con­tinue to fight

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