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Richmond councilwoman apologizes for racist home decor

Posted at 2:32 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 17:45:46-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond City Councilwoman Reva Trammell has issued an apology after she said she learned a decoration she had on display in her home was racist. Trammell said it was brought to her attention recently after she posted a photo of herself, in her home, on Facebook. The photo has since been taken down off her public page.

"First, I want to thank everyone for bringing this to my attention. The figurine of the Black lady was given to me about 35 years ago," Trammell said in a statement sent to CBS 6 News. "I never thought much about it, but I do now realize that it is a hurtful image to many people. For that reason, I have taken it down and discarded it. I apologize for the hurt I have caused."

The figurine is known as a mammy jar.

"The mammy stereotype portrays black women as obedient maids to white families," the New York Times wrote in a piece about the objects last year. "Like blackface, racist objects such as mammy jars perpetuate deep-rooted stereotypes about African-Americans by portraying them as docile, dumb and animated. But some white families view these objects as keepsakes, passed down through generations as relics of the past."

Trammell's image caught the attention of RVADirt co-founder Francesca Leigh.

"During this crisis we have checked in on the social media accounts of local officials and organizations to see what resources they were providing and I saw it," Leigh said. "As far as I know we were the first to post it [on social media].

Responding to the RVADirt tweet, Richmond City Councilman Mike Jones called on his fellow councilperson to explain.

"Google Racist Iconography and the mammy jar that is in one of my colleague's house will come up," Jones wrote on Twitter. "There is no excusing this away. Reva Trammell needs to give an account for this immediately. Maybe that is part of the reason why she was against my paper on Civil War memorabilia. "

Trammell has, on-and-off again, represented Richmond's predominately African-American 8th District since 1998. She pointed to her track record as one that supported the African-American community.

"I dearly love all of my citizens and I am dedicated to serving the fine citizens of Richmond's 8th District of all races," her statement continued. "I pray that everyone stays safe in these dangerous times, and let's move forward together."