Is Cotton Racist? Hobby Lobby & Lipscomb Accusations Go Viral

Killeen Woman Calls Hobby Lobby Decorative Sprigs of Cotton Racist

Daniell Rider, a young woman from Killeen, Texas, has complained to Hobby Lobby, calling their sprigs of decorative cotton racist. On September 14, Daniell posted to Hobby Lobby’s Facebook wall, saying, “This decor is WRONG on SO many levels. 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.'”

It is unclear whether or not Daniell wears cotton clothing, uses cotton swabs, or sleeps between cotton bed sheets. However, we’d be willing to bet she uses products containing cotton or cottonseed oil, such as Margarine, soap, cosmetics, rubber, band-aids, and even cash.

That’s right. U.S. paper money is made up of 75% cotton.

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While we agree that racism is evil and slavery is unconscionable, calling cotton racist does absolutely nothing to alleviate the pain of modern racism victims, or to dissuade racist people from their dysfunctional prejudices. Also, it is unfair to single out a single home decor store, like Hobby Lobby, when every major retailer in the U.S. sells cotton products of some sort. In addition, Hobby Lobby employs many people of all skin tones.

Calling cotton racist also ignores the fact that historically, black slaves did much more than just pick cotton. They were unjustly forced to work as maids, stable hands, nannies, cooks, gardeners, builders, farmers, and general manual laborers. They tended cattle and harvested a whole host of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Slavery is the result of evil, plain and simple. Calling cotton racist makes about as much sense as calling hamburgers racist because they’re named after Hamburg, Germany, and Germany is where Nazi’s came from.

So far, the post has received 16,000 likes, 170,000 comments, and 15,000 shares. Most people seem united in incredulity.

What do you think of this decoration from Hobby Lobby? Is it offensive, or no?

Lipscomb University President Holds Very Awkward Dinner Parties

Coincidentally, Hobby Lobby’s viral Facebook message isn’t the only instance of alleged cotton-related racism of late. This next story, however, has a bit more substance to it.

The President of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee invited some black students over to his home for dinner. For that night only, President Randy Lowry’s house was decorated with cotton stalks. Not only that, but Lowry’s dinner included so-called “black dishes,” such as cornbread and collard greens. Several students were brave enough to complain during the dinner, and at least one posted about it on Facebook.

Nashville’s NBC news affiliate confirmed that the cotton centerpieces were only used on the night when black students were invited to dinner. They also confirmed that on the previous evening, during a dinner for Latino students, President Lowry featured a fajita bar. Awkward, to say the least.

Thankfully, he had the wisdom to admit his mistake, and on September 15, President Lowry issued this apology:

Last night we invited Lipscomb African American students to our home for dinner to discuss their experiences at Lipscomb. Several students shared with me their concern about the material used for centerpieces which contained stalks of cotton.

The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity. I sincerely apologize for the discomfort, anger or disappointment we caused and solicit your forgiveness.

I have heard from a number of students who would like to spend more time together engaging in conversation. I am most pleased to do so either in small groups or individually. Contact Lisa Steele, Reggie Blair or my assistant, Leslie Landiss, to set up a time. Their contact information is below.

I welcome the opportunity to continue this conversation.

President Lowry

Would you decorate your home with cotton stalks? Why or why not?

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