If you were still skeptical that much of America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic—namely, people posturing against a disease, taking up AR-15’s in defense of the right to get haircuts, and angrily dismissing commonsense advice to wear masks—has more than a tinge of racism embedded in it, this news may or may not convince you.
On Monday, Quinton Lucas, the Black mayor of Kansas City, Mo., shared a screenshot of a text message he received from one of his constituents, and it’s a case study in the kind of defiant racism that has been popping up all over the country recently (as well as since around 1619):
“You should swing from a tree, I’m not threatening it, but would love to see it,” the message reads, in response to a mask-wearing mandate recently put in place by Lucas in Kansas City, according to KSNT.
“You walked with RIOTERS not wearing a mask idiot,” the message added. Apparently, that was really the crux of the sender’s beef: that the mayor had joined recent protests in his city against police brutality.
“They see a black mayor making a decision they don’t like, and so it’s not the decision that’s the issue, it’s my race,” Lucas told KSNT. “It’s who I am. It’s this threat. It’s this bullying.”
There’s evidence backing the mayor’s theory, especially since a cursory search of images of Lucas at recent protests in Kansas City for George Floyd and others killed by police show him wearing a mask except when delivering remarks.
From the use of the “n-word” to the specific reference to lynching—a horrific death that white racists in this country have historically used to terrorize black people—it’s clear what the sender is communicating to Mayor Lucas. Despite parsing words in what may have been an attempt at plausible deniability (I wouldn’t be surprised if the sender of this message would describe themselves as “not having a racist bone” in their body) the text is obviously a racist threat.
Higher up in the text thread, the sender also appears to have complained to the mayor about his choice to stand up against police killings and then dialed up the racist entitlement when he wasn’t responded to, saying: “I’m going to post these messages so everyone can see you don’t respond to whites.”
Lucas said the texts came from a local Kansas City number, and that local police are aware of the threat.
It’s sad that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic he has to be concerned about protecting himself not only from the disease but from the violent fantasies of repugnant racists who reside near him.