The public disrespect of Black women is intolerable!
What it is even more disturbing and shocking is when an elected official, who has been entrusted by the voters of a major city to lead all of the people in their respective district, deliberately disrespects Black women and doubles down on it when called to the carpet about it.
For those who have been following, Houston City Councilman Greg Travis (District G) recently made some extremely disrespectful and discriminatory comments against Black women, which resulted in a back and forth exchange with many commenters, including a prominent Black woman in the Greater Houston area.
The fiery exchanges came after Travis proactively reposted a disrespectful meme on his personal Facebook page showing an unflattering photo of former First Lady Michelle Obama sitting down in a pants suit with her legs gapped open to the left of the meme compared to another photo to the right of the meme of current First Lady Melania Trump sitting down in a pants suit with her legs crossed. The caption that Travis shares simply says: “Yep. Just saying.”
The derogatory comments that came afterwards depict Black women as generally incompetent, unqualified and immoral. Specifically, Travis chose to single out former First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who he claimed only received their high achievements due to Affirmative Action.
Travis also made the assertion that because these Black women were born Black, it automatically qualified them to gain the access needed to achieve the success they eventually experienced. He also stated that sexual favors allowed the women to get ahead, also lumping former presidential candidate and First Lady Hillary Clinton into the conversation and making disparaging comments about her.
Of course, the post set off a firestorm with several people chiming in, most in opposition and disgust towards Councilmember Travis’ brazen and seemingly racist and sexist post.
One of the primary responders to Travis’ post was Houston businesswoman, philanthropist and former Houston City Council candidate Laurie Robinson.
Robinson came after Travis for his remarks and demanded he explain himself, before coming to the defense of the Black women he sought to demean and disrespect online. After chiming in on his post, Travis directed the majority of his disparaging remarks about the Black women towards her.
In the Facebook exchange, Travis referred to Michelle Obama as not being the “brightest bulb” and attributed her accomplishments in getting into and graduating from Harvard University to affirmative action and not her pedigree and hard work.
“Laurie Robinson its called Affirmative Action,” said Travis in response to Robinson on his Facebook post. “Doesn’t take much-she was born with her qualification. She isn’t the brightest bulb in the lot.”
In response to the continued disparaging remarks, Robinson responded to Travis, saying: “Greg Travis Do you have any black people in your district? If so, I am sure you do not represent them well. Not to worry, your political days are truly numbered.”
In response to the offensive post and in support of Robinson, the NAACP Houston Branch held a press conference in front of Houston City Hall this past Tuesday, January 5th, to demand accountability and to stand with the Women’s Coalition for Women’s Empowerment, represented by Robinson; Kathy Blueford Daniels (HISD Trustee); Dr. Karla Brown (community leader); Kandice Webber (Black Women’s Movement Organizer); Jonte’ Archer (She Is A CEO Foundation, Inc); Raven Schwann-Curtis (Ph.D. Candidate); Tomaro Bell (Community Leader); Felicia Moon Thomas; Dr. Candice Matthews (Texas Coalition of Black Democrats); Atty. Audrey Lawton (Chair, Houston Black American Democrats); Judson Robinson, III (Houston Area Urban League); Houston NAACP, represented by 3rd Vice President, Carol Galloway; and several others.
“Black women have a right to achieve. Black women have a right to lead. Black women have a right to be upwardly mobile, without having to be subjected to the bigoted and sexist views of ignorant people who are still living in the past that America is still trying to overcome,” said NAACP Incoming Branch President and press conference organizer, Bishop James Dixon, II.
Robinson and several other attendees expressed their thoughts on Travis’ comments.
“I am the recipient of Councilmember Greg Travis’ rant and diatribe, where he singlehandedly walked a group of people down to the lowest thread,” Robinson said at the press conference. “I say that because in his Facebook posts, he stated that Michelle Obama was qualified because she was born that way. He also disparaged Vice-President elect Kamala Harris and summarized her accomplishments as only a result of Affirmative Action or sleeping one’s way to the top.”
“Thousands and millions of Black women in Texas and the United States have worked really hard to be qualified to walk into a door of opportunity because of Affirmative Action,” Robinson continued. “He (Travis) has yet to acknowledge that these women worked hard to reach their dream and strived for a better life for them and their families.”
Other members of Houston City Council, especially many of the Black women who currently serve on Council with Travis, such as Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, expressed their outrage at the press conference and are seeking for Travis to be held accountable for his actions.
“I am not surprised but I am appalled at the derogatory comments made by [Travis], for which he has no remorse regardless of the expressed offense to me and other women, particularly African American women,” said Evans-Shabazz. “Each of us has a constitutional right to express our opinions, but it is also our right to demand consequences for unfettered, offensive language.”
The post has generated quite a bit of buzz and calls for Travis’ resignation have been steady.
Black Lives Matter, Invisible Houston, Houston Racial Justice Committee and several community leaders have called out Travis for what they believe are his racist and sexist remarks and are demanding his resignation.
Travis has boldly stated he would not resign and has also doubled-down on his comments and defended them to various media outlets, claiming he is entitled to free speech.
However, after a request to take the post down by Mayor Sylvester Turner, Travis removed it, but has not apologized for the post or the subsequent comments.
Mayor Turner publicly expressed his disappointment in the post, but offered no other comment.
The Forward Times will continue to monitor this brewing situation that appears to not be going away any time soon.