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Albemarle County Farm Owner Offers Insight on Race in Viral Facebook Post

Posted: Updated: May 30, 2017 05:59 PM
Chris Newman Chris Newman
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

A central Virginia farmer's post is going viral right now on social media.

Chris Newman, owner of Sylvanaqua Farms in Albemarle County, posted a message about race relations. At last count, it has more than 3,000 shares on the farm's Facebook page.

Newman says he worries activists aren't focuses on the changes he says will make a true difference.

"People are so busy going after that easy fix, going after that Confederate flag, that they're not doing the hard thing, which is thinking, how did we get here, and how the hell do we dig out of institutional racism," Newman said.

Full Statement from Chris Newman:

A message to Charlottesville about Lee Park from your local Black farmer:

I know some folks are really feeling themselves about this whole Love Trumps Hate counter-rally to Richard Spencer's punch-worthy shenanigans in Lee Park. I'd like to appreciate it, but frankly I just don't.

I've lived in several cities and visited many more before Charlottesville. I like this town for its natural beauty, it's small size, the friendliness of its people, and its food. But folks, here's something else: Charlottesville is by far the most aggressively segregated place I've ever lived in or visited. And that seems a strange thing to have to say about a town that hosts a public university.

I say "aggressively" for two reasons. One, because of how assertive police (and the citizens who summon them) are here with racial profiling. It got so bad in 2014 - 2015 that I stopped renting farmland on estates where I could be easily seen from the road, and I stopped making food deliveries into wealthier neighborhoods because of how often police would "happen by" and sometimes even question me five or ten minutes after I got a strange look from a passerby (usually someone jogging, but occasionally someone in a car). I'm not a paranoid kinda guy, but this happened way too often to be a coincidence.

It isn't Richard Spencer calling the cops on me for farming while Black. It's nervous White women in yoga pants with "I'm with Her" and "Coexist" stickers on their German SUVs.

Second is the sheer degree of cultural appropriation going on with businesses in the city proper. It's little things - e.g. shops and other businesses incorporating wide swaths of hiphop culture into their branding while having not a single Black owner, partner, employee, or vendor. And those businesses are KILLING IT here. This is a town where Blackness advances White-owned brands and subjects Black-owned businesses to inspection by law enforcement.

Do you really think that problem comes from people like Richard Spencer?

Check out C'Ville Weekly's Instagram feed when you get a moment, and try not to notice that the few depictions of Black people are limited to sports, singing, criminal justice, or single parenthood. White people, meanwhile, are represented as political activists, chefs, cogs in the gig economy, musicians, dancers, people who get married, visual artists, songwriters, architects, landscapers, thespians, artistic directors, wedge-heel-wearing rugby players, dog lovers, farmers, firefighters, and people who play with their kids in cul de sacs.

Richard Spencer is not the editor of C'Ville Weekly.

Truth is, as a Black dude, I'm far less bothered by the flag wavers in this picture than this town's progressives assuming its race problem has nothing to do with them. The former is a visual inconvenience. The latter could leave my daughters without a father.

So please, put down the candles and instead ask yourself: why is my city like this? Why is life like this for Black people in my wonderful city? The answer is a lot closer to home than Richard Spencer or Lee Park.