Death and taxes used to be the only two certainties in life—but no matter how much progress it feels like we’re making sometimes, the sad fact is you can probably slide racism into that list, too. Are we in a moment of uprising that feels like it has the potential to create real, systemic change? Yes. Do people and organizations still show their ass on a daily basis? Oh, most definitely. And to keep tabs on all that ass-showing, we’re pleased to present our semi-regular racism surveillance machine. Stay woke, and keep your head on a swivel out there.
Las Vegas is home to some pretty epic attractions. There’s Luxor, with its big-ass sphinx and Ancient Egypt-inspired pyramid. The Bellagio has an elaborate fountain that puts on a water show with Temptations-level choreography. There’s an estimated 200,000 slot machines in the city—and seemingly just as many plugs on the Strip peddling your drug of choice (if you’re into that sort of thing).
Until recently, there was reportedly another exhibition grabbing folks’ attention: a toy model that depicted what appears to be a Black man about to be lynched. No, this wasn’t a desert mirage. According to Las Vegas’ KLAS, a large group of protesters gathered near Henderson Mall last week in protest of what looks like a shitty school project, which went on display at the Galleria at Sunset Mall on May 30, courtesy of the Las Vegas Garden Railway Society. The diorama remained there for 37 damn days, through July 5, when someone with an ounce of common sense finally removed it due to complaints of racism.
“I just need you to know that someone took time to make this, put it together, and put it in the mall,” said Michelle Maese who works as the president of Service Employees International Union Local (SEUI) 1107. “And then women, children, families, everybody walked by hundreds of times and saw this.”
While it seems pretty obvious that this display was offensive, Sue Jerrems, who operates as the president of the Las Vegas Garden Railway Society, didn’t initially see things that way. She said as much in an apology.
“We never looked at it as a Black man before,” she told the Las Vegas Sun, exhibiting peak I-don’t-see-color-ass plea copping. “It was just part of a frontier scene. It had no racist implications. Once someone pointed out the implications of it, we took it down. We apologized.”
Here’s a pro tip: If you roll the dice on a historical “tribute” that includes a Black person and a noose, you’re liable to crap out.