The headline might read like a piece of satire from The Onion, but unfortunately this story is all too real. A Texas woman was triggered by a decorative cotton display in a Hobby Lobby arts and crafts store, and her post asking for the benign decor to be removed has gone viral for all the wrong reasons.
“This decor is WRONG on SO many levels,” Daniell Rider posted to the official Hobby Lobby Facebook on Thursday. “There is nothing decorative about raw cotton…A commodity which was gained at the expense of African-American slaves. A little sensitivity goes a long way. PLEASE REMOVE THIS ‘decor.’”
This decor is WRONG on SO many levels. There is nothing decorative about raw cotton… A commodity which was gained at…
As of this writing, Rider’s post has been shared more than 19,500 times and garnered more than 91,000 “reactions.” And many people think her offense is completely unfounded.
“This has to be a joke. Now a plant is offensive?” one person wrote.
“This is crazy. Cotton is a fact of life,” one commenter said. “People still pick it. [Slavery] happened 150 years ago. Slaves also picked tobacco, harvested rice and many other things. We can’t just get rid of them. Well Lowe’s [sic] sells chains and rope. You think they should get rid of that too?”
The ridicule is even worse on Twitter:
So now Hobby Lobby is under fire for selling fake cotton bc it’s considered racist, but people wear cotton every. Single. Day……..
— Kirst (@kkvanilla) September 19, 2017
Hey guys, being mad about Hobby Lobby’s cotton display is stupid. Are you mad that t-shirts are made from cotton too? This isn’t helping.
— BlackOnBlackCinema (@BlackonCinema) September 18, 2017
Help is on the way for people that were offended by Hobby Lobby’s ‘offensive’ cotton decoration. Don’t forget to send me your paper currency pic.twitter.com/u0ON7QPAkD
— MAGAmike (@jmsb1955) September 18, 2017
Bizarrely, Rider isn’t even the first person to take offense to fake cotton this week. On Friday, Lipscomb University President Randy Lowry was forced to issue an apology letter after a group of African-American students were offended by cotton-stem centerpieces Lowry had used to decorate his home.
President Randy Lowry just sent the following email to the Lipscomb community. pic.twitter.com/pMFkLpCaEw
— Lipscomb University (@lipscomb) September 15, 2017
I have to agree with Rider’s critics: The outrage over these fake cotton stems is nothing short of moronic. Slavery is a horrible part of America’s history, but as numerous commenters pointed out, it was abolished more than 150 years ago – and cotton-picking was far from the worst thing about it. Cotton is only racist insofar as people like Rider choose to view it as racist, which is dumb, because if she were to survey the clothing in her closet she’d likely find that more than half the items are made, at least, in part from cotton. Is she willing to throw out all those clothes to prove her point? I highly doubt it.
Rider is free and privileged, and yet she chooses to complain about the past. Meanwhile, people living in other parts of the world don’t even have the right to complain. If everyone offended by fake cotton stopped to think about how privileged they are as free Americans, perhaps they wouldn’t be so offended by everything under the sun.
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