Another video of upsetting statements by longtime Central District activist Omari Tahir-Garrett has surfaced. This one appeared in the Facebook comments of yesterday's post about Tahir-Garrett telling Uncle Ike's Jewish owner, Ian Eisenberg, to go back to Germany and subject himself to the whims of Nazis.
In the more recently surfaced video, which dates to 2013, Tahir-Garrett confronts a worker sent to take an Africatown and Liberty Bank banner off of the Liberty Bank building (once Seattle's first black-owned bank and co-founded by Tahir-Garrett's father).
Tahir-Garrett tells the worker hired by Key Bank to remove the signs—who appears to be of Asian descent—to go back to Asia. "You belong in Asia," he says.
Liberty was one of the few black-owned banks in the United States at the time of its founding, and according to the Seattle Times, "aimed at giving minorities, especially African-Americans, an equal footing in the economy." Washington's former governor Dan Evans held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its opening, and by August of 1968, 80 percent of the bank's stockholders were black.
Regulators later closed the bank, and the bank that cropped up in its place was bought by Key Bank. Tahir-Garrett led a fight to try and preserve the building as a historical landmark, but lost his argument to the City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board.
All of that is important context for the video. But again, what's said in the video itself is disturbing.
"If somebody told you to jump off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge?" Tahir-Garrett asks the worker. "If somebody told you to go to Vietnam, would you go to Vietnam?"
"Yeah, you belong in Asia," Tahir-Garrett says later, when the worker threatens to call the police. "You don't belong in the Native Americans' land. How did you get over here? How did you get over here? Don't you have a country?... Go to Asia. This ain't Asia."
I'm going to re-quote an older Mudede post, because there are a lot of overlapping issues here. (Kyriarchy, defined as the system of intersecting forms of ruling and oppression, "reminds us that since different oppressions exist, we can fight one form of oppression while perpetuating others.")
Multiple truths can coexist, and in light of the video posted over the weekend, one seems particularly relevant. In his post about anti-Semitic statements at a 2015 Black Lives Matter march to Uncle Ike's, Mudede writes: "Such incoherence can only discredit the movement and cloud the otherwise very clear and important issues." At best, people who ignore these statements make it seem like they are okay with them being said. At worst, they enable some forms of oppression to continue.