Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everyone!
That is, everyone except Cheryl Dean in Cortez, Colo.
Dean owns an antique store in Cortez and has recently come under fire for selling racist merchandise. And I’m not talking Confederate flags, MAGA paraphernalia or dolls that ambiguously look like they may be swinging from nooses. This isn’t the kind of veiled bigotry that gives obtuse white people the wiggle room they need so that they can sing their favorite hymn entitled “Waaaaaait, How is That Racist?”
Nope, Dean’s store, Antique Corral, was caught selling literal Jim Crow era “Whites Only” signs. Again, happy MLK Day, good people! Can’t you feel the love already?
According to CNN, a woman named Nicola Shanks was browsing the aisles Dean’s store, last week when she noticed several signs that caught her attention for all the wrong reasons.
One sign read, “Public Swimming Pool—White Only,” another read, “Colored Seated In Rear” and a third read, “We Serve Colored Carry Out Only.” Making matters worse, the signs are accompanied by a display of “Mammy” figurines. King would be so proud.
“I think it was disbelief at first, that I was actually seeing these signs in a store. It’s something I would expect to see at the Jim Crow museum, not in a local antique store,” Shanks told CNN.
Shanks says she complained about the signs to an employee and, days later, returned to the store to confront the owner about removing the racist merch, but Dean refused and told her to, “Go back to England.” (Whatever that means.)
Now, this is where the story gets especially infuriating. Remember that thing I said about how even the most obtuse of white people couldn’t possibly fix themselves to deny the racism here? WRONG!
According to CNN affiliate KDVR, Dean has claimed the signs are not racist in nature. Yep, you read that right: “Public Swimming Pool—White Only,”— not racist in nature.
“I’ve lived in a small town my whole life. I don’t even know what the word means. There’s been black people in the store and we laugh about it. There’s people that collect that stuff. It has nothing to do with racism. It’s part of history, like, ‘Look how far we’ve come,’” Dean said. (Because we all knew if she was going to try and justify this, the “My black friends say it’s totally fine” defense would have to make an appearance.)
Shanks, who is a white mother of a biracial daughter, didn’t buy Dean’s white nonsense either saying, “The thing that was even more upsetting to me is the fact that they’re not antiques, they’re replicas.” (I know — it’s weird that them not being antiques is more upsetting to her than the actual racism. Also, why is no one talking about the “Mammy” dolls? THERE WERE “MAMMY” DOLLS!)
After Shanks posted about the store on social media, many people called for a boycott and bombarded the store’s media page with terrible reviews. Dean also claims she’s being harassed and threatened.
“Oh, they’re horrible, they threatened to burn down my store, they’re going to kill me,” she said. “This is crazy. How can so few people cause someone so much misery?”
Shanks says she doesn’t condone the threats to Dean (making her a hell of a lot better than me) and that she was hoping that confronting the store owner would bring her around to the right side of history (and present, apparently).
“My hope confronting her is that she would have a change of heart and hear what people of color have to say and how this affects them, not from me but from information I would share with her,” she said.
Oh, Nicola — bless your inconceivably naive heart.