With less than two months left in the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama still cannot escape hateful racist rhetoric. Two state leaders have come under fire after one called the first lady an “Ape in heels” and the other agreed.
Pamela Taylor formerly served as the director at the Clay County Development Corporation in Clay, a non-profit organization located in West Virginia that is funded by state and federal funds. After the election she posted on Facebook, “It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”
Pamela Taylor’s Facebook post, which has since been deleted.
The post, which has since been deleted, garnered a lot of negative attention — but not from Clay County Mayor Beverly Whaling.
“Just made my day, Pam,” Whaling wrote.
In West Virginia, 68.7 percent of the population voted for Trump on Election Day. Clay County showed even more support for the now president-elect, with more than three-quarters of residents voting for Trump. Clay County is nearly 100 percent white, according to U.S. Census Data, and just 0.2 percent Black.
Taylor has since been fired. Incredibly, she now insists that the situation has turned into a “hate crime against me.” She is working with an attorney to file a lawsuit against people who are now slandering her, WSAZ reported, and she and her children have received death threats.
The mayor, meanwhile, claims her comment was not intended to be racist and says the situation has gotten out of hand.
“My comment was not intended to be racist at all,” Whaling reported to The Washington Post in a statement. “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!
“Again, I would like to apologize for this getting out of hand!”
Action has not yet been taken against Whaling, but the incident will be addressed at the next council meeting, according to Clay Town Councilman Jason Hubbard.
State officials for the Democratic Party slammed the women’s comments.
“While we respect Ms. Taylor’s right to free speech, we strongly oppose any form of racism or hate speech,” Joe Murphy, vice chairman of the Clay Democratic Executive Committee, said. “We fully support our president and the first lady.”
State Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore apologized to the Obama family on behalf of the whole state, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.
“On behalf of my fellow Mountaineers I would like extend my sincerest apologies to first lady Michelle Obama,” she said in an emailed statement. “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 against. These words and actions do not represent West Virginia values.
“We will continue to fight for a West Virginia that is inclusive, not divisive and a home for all to feel safe, welcome, and protected. In a time when we are at a crossroads and many fear the future we must stand together against hate of all forms.”
NAACP state director Owens Brown called the comments against the first lady “a reality that we are dealing with today.”
Indeed, this has been a reality for President Barack Obama and his wife and daughters over his two presidential terms. Earlier this year, an Associated Press article about Malia Obama, one of the president’s daughters, that was published on Fox News received a slew of hateful, racist and threatening comments. The article was about Malia Obama deciding to attend Harvard University in 2017. The comments called her a racial slur, an “ape,” a “monkey” and accusing her of not deserving her entry to the university but getting it thanks to “Black privilege.”
Some of the hateful comments included, “I wonder if she applied as a muDslime..or a foreign student..or just a Ni@@er” and “Hopefully she gets cancer/aids or one of those colored diseases.” Malia Obama was 17 years old at the time the comments were written.
Last summer another mayor likened the Obamas to monkeys. The mayor of a small town in Washington posted on Facebook, at the time Barack Obama was visiting the town, “Gorilla face Michelle, can’t disagree with that. The woman is not attractive except to monkey man Barack. Check out them ears. LOL.”
The mayor, Patrick Rushing, also insisted he is not a racist.
While the Obamas have long dealt with slander from hateful racists, this year’s racially charged presidential election brought these attacks to the public eye in a new way.
Last month, Dan Johnson, who was a Republican candidate for Kentucky’s House of Representatives, posted a series of racially charged posts on his Facebook page — including several likening the Obamas to monkeys. Johnson had advertised himself as the man who will “make Kentucky great again.”
Also last month, Sean Hannity, a radio show host and Fox News Pundit, promised to ship the Obamas to Kenya if President-elect Donald Trump won the election — giving life to the repeatedly debunked conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.