A black farmer has the internet talking after posting a powerful message on social media about race relations in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Chris Newman, owner of the Sylvanaqua Farms in Albemarle County, shared his thoughts on a recent “Love Trumps Hate” counter-protest on Saturday. The rally was held in response to white supremacist Richard Spencer leading a protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“I’d like to appreciate [the Love Trumps Hate rally],” Newman wrote in a Facebook post published on May 17. “But frankly I just don’t.”
Newman went on to call out the subtle racism of his neighbors, who purport to be progressive and inclusive but have yet to acknowledge the fact that Charlottesville is, by his estimation, “the most aggressively segregated place” he’s ever lived in.
The farmer recounted that he’s been racially profiled and questioned by police several times after receiving “strange looks from a passerby.”
“It isn’t Richard Spencer calling the cops on me for farming while Black,” Newman wrote. “It’s nervous White women in yoga pants with ‘I’m with her’ and ‘Coexist’ stickers on their German SUVs.”
The farmer went on to suggest that residents of the town who are interested in racial progress should consider how to effect change in their own everyday lives.
“People are so busy going after that easy fix, going after that Confederate flag, that they’re not doing the hard thing, which is thinking, how did we get here, and how the hell do we dig out of institutional racism,” Newman wrote.
As of Wednesday, Newman’s post has received over 5,000 shares and hundreds of comments from people chiming in with their own thoughts on race in Charlottesville.
In an interview with CBS affiliate Newsplex on Wednesday, Newman said that the racial profiling he receives has gotten so bad that he has stopped doing food deliveries from his farm to wealthier neighborhoods in the area. He told the station that the fact he experiences racism on a day-to-day basis is the main reason he made the Facebook post.
“The thing that bothered me wasn’t so much the protests themselves, but the back-patting after it,” Newman said. “There’s a difference between confronting racists and confronting racism.”