A local West Virginia official said she has been placed on leave after she posted a racist comment about first lady Michelle Obama
Clay County Development Corp. director Pamela Ramsey Taylor made the post following Republican Donald Trump’s election as president, saying: “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.”
Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling responded: “Just made my day Pam.”
Taylor told WCHS-TV on Monday night that she was put on leave.
Meanwhile, Whaling issued a written apology to news
media outlets saying that her comment wasn’t intended to be racist.
“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 in any way racist!”
Taylor also told the news station that the public response had become a “hate crime against me,” explaining that she and her children had received death threats. She said she is planning to file a lawsuit against people who have slandered or libeled her, according to the news station.Taylor did not return a call seeking comment. But NBC affiliate WSAZ reported that she had issued an apology.
The news station reported that Taylor said she understood why her post may have been interpreted as racist, but that was not her intention. She said she was referring to her own opinion about the first lady’s attractiveness, not about the colour of her skin, according to the news station.
Clay’s town council planned to discuss the issue at a previously scheduled meeting today.
The post, first reported by WSAZ, has caused a backlash and prompted calls for Taylor and Mayor Whaling to be fired. The post was shared hundreds of times on social media before it was deleted. The Facebook pages of Taylor and Whaling couldn’t be found Monday.
The nonprofit Clay County Development Corp. provides services to elderly and low-income residents in Clay County. It is funded through state and federal grants and local fees. It is not affiliated with the town of Clay, which is about 80 kilometres east of Charleston.
Owens Brown, director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s West Virginia chapter, is among those calling for the removal of both women.
“I feel it’s so unfortunate that people still have these racist undertones,” Brown said. “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.”
African-Americans make up about 4 per cent of West Virginia’s 1.8 million residents, according to the US
About 77 per cent of Clay County residents supported Trump in the November 8 election. In 2012, President Barack Obama received 31 per cent of the county vote when Republican Mitt Romney easily carried the state.
Last week in Kentucky, Republican Dan Johnson defeated incumbent Democrat Linda Belcher in Bullitt County in a race for the state House of Representatives, despite a series of posts he put on Facebook depicting President Barack Obama and his wife as monkeys.
Republican officials, including likely new House Speaker Jeff Hoover, had called on Johnson to drop out of the race. But Hoover declared last week that Johnson would be “welcome in our caucus”.