A few years ago when Barack Obama was president, several writers and commentators predicted it was only a matter of time before all criticism of any black person would be considered “racist.”
That day has now apparently arrived.
San Francisco GOP mayoral candidate Ellen Lee Zhou erected a billboard advertisement depicting the black female incumbent mayor, London Breed, “in a red dress with her feet up on an executive desk while holding a cigar and counting cash. A thought bubble extending from Breed shows homeless individuals with numbered signs.”
“I think the billboard speaks for itself,” CBS 5 reported Breed said. “It’s unfortunate that it has come to this point.”
Maggie Muir, a consultant for Breed’s reelection campaign, called the billboard “blatantly racist and sexist” in a statement to The Hill.
“This blatantly racist and sexist ad has no place in our political discourse or our city,” Muir said. “Race-baiting like this is divisive, dangerous and shameful, and must be rejected.”
“Race baiting”? A black mayor’s campaign accuses a Chinese Republican woman of a deliberate attempt to create a racial divide? That’s what politics has degenerated into.
I think it should be a rule that whenever anyone accuses anyone else of being “racist,” he or she has to show exactly how whatever it is they’re criticizing can be considered “racist.” Simply using the word to elicit a voter response is smear politics (if anyone cares).
Zhou pleads innocent to the charge.
Luz Pena: Who is the woman wearing that red dress?
Ellen Zhou: I believe it symbolizes London Breed.
Luz Pena: You believe or was that the intention?
Ellen Zhou: I believe that was the intention.
Luz Pena: Do you think that’s disrespectful?
Ellen Zhou: No, not at all. I think that’s freedom of press and freedom of speech.
Zhou should know better than to use the word “freedom” in San Francisco — especially the hated phrase, “freedom of speech.”
“To me, it symbolizes a mayor that is talking and thinking about change, but not doing about change,” said Zhou about depicting Mayor London Breed this way.
Many SoMa residents see this as disrespectful.
“It’s an unfair depiction of London Breed. I think as the mayor she’s not counting her money. She’s probably working and San Francisco has a lot going on and there’s a lot of work,” said Jack Piper.
Others are now curious.
“It makes me want to know who Ellen Zhou is,” said Greg Lawler.
The mayor is criticizing Zhou because of the reflex reaction most people have to anyone referred to as “racist.” Not only is the word a debate ender, but it also has the unique ability to stick like slime to anyone so smeared. While the word has lost some of its power due to overuse in recent years, as a political weapon it can still be very potent.
The ad is blatantly innocent and, not unintentionally, has raised the profile of Zhou in the city. In any objective court of opinion, Zhou would be found “not guilty” of creating a racist ad. But she should have known she’s the wrong color to criticize a black woman of anything.
Everyone should be outraged at what’s depicted on this billboard. When are we going to overcome these racist depictions of Black people and other communities SF?London Breed for Mayor!