A member of a school board in Louisiana has apologized for sharing a photo with a noose on Facebook but still doesn't appear to understand its racial overtones.
Mike Whitlow of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board reportedly reposted a meme featuring a noose and an interesting choice of words on his personal Facebook account:
"If we want to make America great again, we will have to make evil people fear punishment again."
The post has since been deleted but was reportedly seen by The Advocate. According to Whitlow, he shared with the image an article pertaining to stricter punishment for violent offenders. In an apology Whitlow insisted the article in question "had no racial or discriminatory overtones whatsoever" — as if the racial overtones in the photo were not enough.
Louisiana is 59 percent white, 32.6 percent Black, 5 percent Hispanic, 1.8 percent Asian, 1.6 percent two or more races, and less than 1 percent American Indian/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander. Meanwhile, Tangipahoa Parish's seat is in Amite City, which has a population that is 46.42 percent white, 51.82 percent Black, 1.41 percent Hispanic and less than 1 percent all other races.
The image in question came from a page called Weapons Vault. The page shares images of guns and pro-gun messages. The original post from Weapons Vault does not link to an article.
Louis Joseph, a council member and former superintendent of schools, sent a letter to Action News 17 expressing his disappointment in the incident.
"I am extremely offended by his post as we all know the history and meaning of the hangman's noose, especially as it pertains to African Americans," he wrote.
"As a member of the school board, what message are you sending to the students, employees, and parents of our school system, let alone people that may be considering moving into our parish?" Joseph questioned. "One aspect of leadership is not only doing what is right, but also to do the right thing. With your mentality, who can trust you to do what is right or to do the right thing?"
At a board meeting on Tuesday, people called for Whitlow to resign, according to The Advocate.
"What you've done is drag us back into the 19th century," pastor Lafayette Funches reportedly told Whitlow. According to The Advocate, as he spoke, "he waved a copy of a report from the Equal Justice Initiative that documents more than 4,000 lynchings in the South from 1877 to 1950. The report counts 24 people lynched in Tangipahoa Parish during that time."
But, according to Whitlow, the reaction to his picture is "misplaced." As of Wednesday he has not been removed or resigned from his position.