Photo from Chauntyll Allen, now widespread.
I saw the racism in the Minneapolis Fourth Precinct tree instantly.
So I did what so many of us do in this social media age. I took a screen grab from a friend's Facebook account, put it up on my Twitter feed with a demand for our elected officials to address it, and went back to my day. I figured I'd contribute to the chorus of calls for apologies, consequences, and reconciliation. As it turns out, that tweet was one of the first to spread the image broadly, and became a focal point for many people and news agencies.
(A quick side note: once it became clear that this was getting way more exposure than I expected, I went back and found the source of the original post. That was Chauntyll Allen, a Black Lives Matter activist. From that point on, I directed all media inquiries to her - both because she was the original poster and because as a person of color in Minneapolis, her experiences with what that tree means are much more direct and visceral than mine.)
But what I want to address in this post is how so many people, mostly but not entirely White, didn't see what I and so many others saw. The denials on Twitter, Facebook, and the comment sections of news reports ranged from a thinking it was in poor taste but not racist all the way to seeing the racism and enjoying it. If you're on the latter part of the spectrum, this post is not for you. If you're curious as to how this was construed as not just offensive but downright racist, read on...