A Virginia farm is facing backlash this week over the display of a roadside sign urging passersby to “Resist White Supremacy.”
The angry calls and emails came pouring in after family-owned Cox Farms in Centreville used the sign to promote “messages of inclusion” about Black Lives Matter, immigration and other social issues. Farm officials said they’ve faced criticism and even lost business over their signs in the past, but their latest message really got some folks riled up.
“We sincerely believe that fighting injustice and white supremacy is a responsibility that can – and should – unite us all,” the team wrote in a Facebook post. ” We struggle to see how anyone other than self–identified white supremacists would take this as a personal attack.”
Aaron Cox-Leow, who’s in charge of operations at the farm, told The Washington Post she and her sister opted to change their original message of “Rise and Resist” after triggering angry responses from conservatives who saw the message as an attack against President Donald Trump. So, they took a different approach.
“Maybe we should change ‘rise and resist’ to ‘resist white supremacy’…,” Lily Cox-Richard texted her sister. “… That way, if someone takes a picture of one of our signs to post and says they are ‘saddened’ or ‘disappointed,’ they will be explicitly revealing themselves as the racist that they are.’ ”
Nearly an hour after the switch, the sisters said they received a message from a woman on Facebook Messenger that read, “Whatever your own personal agendas are none us want to see them on display at a place we once enjoyed going to for tradition. It’s TRULY disappointing.”
And the vitriol only intensified from there.
In a Facebook post that has since garnered over 49K reactions and more than 16K shares, Cox-Leow was not afraid to respond directly to some commenters.
“So black supremacy is okay then?” asked a woman named Lisa Lewis. “This is not a message of love, this is a message out to divide people even more. I would never ever visit your farm because you try to force your views on your customers. That is WRONG no matter what you say.”
“Lisa, when we talk about white supremacy, we’re referring to a systemic racism that is much deeper and more pervasive than any individual or group could be,” Cox-Leow replied. “Black people do not have the institutional power in our society to benefit from so-called ‘black supremacy.’ It just doesn’t work like that.”
Yet another commenter showed their lack of understanding for the sign. “Resist white supremacy is not an inclusive message,” complained another. “When you single out a group of people you exclude them. This is a sad message.”
Cox-Leow was once again ready, “Yes, generally speaking, we are comfortable excluding white supremacists.”
Explaining why the family sometimes uses their “little sign” to share their opinions, Cox-Leow offered, “Desmond Tutu said, ‘If you’re neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.'” She added, “We consider the present state of our country to be far beyond partisan bickering or politics as usual. We see our nation in crisis, and peoples’ lives and safety and humanity are hanging in the balance.”
“We are not neutral, and we will not feign neutrality to appease our customers,” Cox-Leow continued. “We are committed to speaking out for love and justice, even if it costs us some business.”
The farm-owner followed-up with a later post thanking all who responded to their sign with messages of love and support. In it, she even downplayed the “bravery” shown by her and the farm team in speaking out against racism.
“We’re white people using our privilege and power to say something that should be obvious but clearly still needs to be said,” she wrote, “and there’s nothing brave about that.”