Mostly focusing on how systemic racism plays out every day, I rarely write about what may seem like an outdated example of racism—that crystal clear version many people have of a hooded klansman calling a Black person the N-word and demanding that he go back to Africa. Count on YouTube commenter Steven Crowder, however, to remind us all that depiction isn’t so outdated after all. In a disgusting video that’s part of his YouTube series “Louder with Crowder,” the political commentator called federal relief for Black farmers “reparations” for “colored farmers.” He then went on to imitate a stereotype of Black people complete with a grotesque accent. “I’m gonna buy a plow man. I’m going to buy a John Deere. Barack Obama mother … I’m the president of plowing that a–,” he said.
Crowder also edited painter Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” to depict a Black man in a black hoodie, sunglasses, and a bandana standing next to a woman in a ski mask. “Most happy about the new policy, these people,” he described.
The distasteful video follows the passage on Thursday of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which includes $5 billion in federal funding to extinguish federal debt incurred by Black, Indigenous, and Latino farmers. While Crowder’s analysis of the funding makes fun of the shortage of Black farmers with the statement “I don’t know where you find this many farmers of color, uh but they did,” he failed to acknowledge why that shortage exists. He instead supported his cohost Dave Landau in drawing a thoughtless comparison between slavery and farming—apparently, an all too common misconception. “I thought the last thing they would want to do is be farmers,” Landau said. “Wasn’t that a big problem for hundreds of years?”
No actually, it was the forced and unpaid labor; the annihilation of Black families, wealth, and ownership; and the rape of generations of women and children that was the problem. Racist policies that followed slavery only worked to strip a people already robbed of their dignity of the land they worked so hard to own following their emancipation. One in seven farms were Black-owned a century ago, and that’s now down to one in 50, the National Farmers Union posted in a Twitter thread earlier this month. “For context on what that discrimination looks like: According to the most recent agriculture census, Black farmers receive about $59M in government payments; white farmers receive about $9B. Per capita, that’s $1,208 for Black farmers and $2,707 for white farmers,” the organization said in the thread.
The number of acres Black farmers owned dropped by about 90% since the 20th century compared to 2% for white farmers, The New York Times reported on Feb. 18. Thomas W. Mitchell, a law professor at Texas A&M University, estimated the cost of such a loss in farmland to be $350 billion. “These are the economic consequences of this massive and precipitous land loss that was significantly the result of systemic racial discrimination,” he told the newspaper.
Crowder, however, saw the most pressing media need to be making light of generations of loss. YouTube removed his video, oddly enough for violating the company’s COVID-19 misinformation policy. “This video violates our Covid-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits content claiming that the death rates of Covid-19 are less severe or equally as severe as the common cold or seasonal flu,” a YouTube spokesman wrote in a statement to Bloomberg. “As a result, the video was removed from Steven Crowder’s channel.”
His remarks triggered a bit of reminiscing on social media about the time Crowder got punched after mouthing off to Michigan union workers opposing right-to-work laws in December 2012. Crowder, appearing every bit the victim, posted edited footage of the incident on his YouTube channel, but prosecutors determined the man who punched the paid troll was actually acting in self-defense and wasn’t charged, Newsweek reported. “Blessings on the Union Worker who punched Steven Crowder into daylight savings and beyond,” Twitter user Axel Folio tweeted on Tuesday. Daniel Swensen retweeted the same photo. “The only Steven Crowder content I’ll retweet,” the writer said.
Other social media users kept their remarks focused intently on Crowder’s most recent filth. Business Insider columnist Manny Fidel tweeted: “not only is steven crowder violently unfunny, in this clip he makes fun of Black Detroiters for using meth………a drug that white people use at a rate more than 3x that of Black people. and hennessy and sneaker jokes?? is it 2004 holy shit man absolutely embarrassing. jail”
Human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid tweeted: “Amazing how racists ignore 266 years of free labor, 100 years of Jim Crow, 40 years of redlining, 0 reparations paid, ever—but get upset at $5B one time after 400 years of oppression. Crowder is a white supremacist. Change my mind.” Rashid added in another tweet: “4M mostly white Americans & European undocumented immigrants received ~270 Million acres of free land via Homestead Act from 1862-1987. And 93 Million homesteader descendants are alive today—benefitting from that massive handout But yeah—$5B one time to Black farmers is unjust”
Journalist Mehdi Hasan tweeted: “This is a person who a sitting Republican senator, Ted Cruz, has loudly defended and also appeared on his show. The normalization of racism, especially anti-black racism, continues.”
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