Wyoming Congressman Apologizes for Tweeting ‘Where the White Women At’ GIF to State’s First Black Sheriff

Rep. Cyrus Western
Rep. Cyrus Western
Photo: Wyoleg.gov

Man...I really hate wypipo apologies.

What I mean is that I hate the way white people frame their apologies after doing or saying something that was clearly racist and intentional. It’s always different variations of: “It was a stupid yet innocent mistake. I didn’t mean it that way. Everyone who knows me knows there isn’t a racist bone in my body.” (In my mind, there are millions of bigoted skeletons walking the Earth wondering why the rest of their body never wants to claim them. They also keep calling me the n-word.)

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Meet Wyoming legislator Rep. Cyrus Western (R-Sheridan). The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Western, in his infinite white and western wisdom (See what I did there?), thought it was a good idea to congratulate Wyoming’s first Black sheriff, Albany County Sheriff Aaron Appelhans, on his new appointment by posting a now-deleted tweet featuring a GIF of the Black sheriff from the movie Blazing Saddles, played by actor Cleavon Little, asking, “Where the white women at?”

I know what you’re thinking: I guess white men can jump because otherwise there’s no way in hell he could perform the mental gymnastics necessary to explain how that shit wasn’t meant to be racist.

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From the Tribune:

Western, who deleted his tweet after an outpouring of criticism, said that it was intended to be a reference to the film and was not intended to disparage Appelhans. In the film, Little played protagonist Sheriff Bart, a former slave who challenges the racist sensibilities of an all-white town in a satirical lampooning of the racism often obscured by Hollywood’s depictions of the Old West.

“I’d like to issue a retraction,” Western wrote in a tweet Wednesday morning. “My remark about the new Albany Sheriff was dumb and uncalled for.”

“What I did was insensitive, and, while unintended, I recognize that it was wrong,” he added. “I hope he accepts my apology.”

“It was stupid, and I wasn’t really thinking,” Western said in an interview Wednesday, the Tribune reports. “It was a reference to an old comedy satire movie where an African American sheriff moves to a Western town and breaks down norms. That was the sentiment, there was never any kind of malice or anything, and it was only afterwards I realized that it was really dumb.”

So let me see if I have this right: Besides the fact that he came across a story about Wyoming’s newly appointed Black Sheriff and immediately thought, “Oh shit, Blazing Saddles has a Black sheriff, so there’s an obvious connection there,” are we to believe that Western read the words “Where the white women at,” and it never occurred to him that his tweet may not be received the way he supposedly intended it? I’m just saying, a more plausible explanation is that Western used a satirical western to display non-satirical western racism. (I’m sorry, but if you want the puns to stop, I’m going to need him to change his last name.)

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Maybe Kanye Western just doesn’t care about Black people. (OK, that’s the last one, I promise.)

Appelhans confirmed to the Tribune on Wednesday that Western called him and apologized for letting his unmitigated whiteness cloud his common sense. (My words, not his.)

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“We definitely had a conversation about—how do I say it—his tweet and the connotations of it as well, racist connotations,” he said. “He was apologetic and we had a conversation about being a politician and making sure you’re representing the people who elected you to office. Just on a broader scale, knowing he represents a portion of the state, he also represents the state as well.”

Despite Western’s lame attempt at pleading ignorance, Appelhans said that he believes he “definitely knows what he did was wrong.”

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“And there’s a potential for us to cross paths with both of our positions and law enforcement working on some of the bills that are gonna be in the state Legislature,” Appelhans said. “I basically told him I have expectations for him and I’m looking forward to him meeting those expectations and be better.”

All I know is Appelhans is way “better” than me. I would have dragged his racist-ass all up and down the western hemisphere. (OK, that was the last one.)

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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