The vice-chairwoman of the N.C. Republican Party is under fire for posting an image that appears to show a black power fist to represent Democratic Party “mobs.”
Michele Nix posted on Instagram with the image, which features the slogan “jobs not mobs” and represents the Republican Party with a white “OK” hand gesture that has recently been appropriated by some white supremacists, while the Democratic Party is represented by a dark-colored fist similar to a design used by the Black Panther Party.
On Twitter, Nix disputed a reporter’s characterization of the image as a black power symbol, arguing that instead “the raised fist was a #COMMUNIST symbol now adopted by the #Democrats.”
A number of Twitter users called the image “racist,” pointing to the contrast of the white hand and the dark-colored hand.
Robert Howard, a spokesman for the N.C. Democratic Party, calling the post “astonishing” and said the hand gesture used to represent the GOP “shouldn’t be overlooked either,” pointing to a news article about a Coast Guard member who was reassigned for using the gesture on TV.
The Anti-Defamation League said the gesture — long considered the symbol for “OK” — has been used by white supremacists after starting as an online hoax designed to “troll” liberals into considering the gesture to be offensive and racist.
“The fact that white supremacists, the alt lite and many Trump supporters all use the symbol means that one cannot assume that anyone who poses with such a gesture is intending or exhibiting an association with white supremacy,” the ADL wrote on its blog. “Only if the gesture occurs in context with other clear indicators of white supremacy can one draw that conclusion.”
NC House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson of Wake County said on Twitter that Nix’s post is “so despicable. ... These dog whistles of black/white hands are disgusting.”
NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse came to Nix’s defense, accusing Jackson of “race-baiting.”
You think IT’S POSSIBLE @MicheleNixNCGOP, a leader in her Lenoir county community sees a symbol or photo differently than you do as a race baiter?” Woodhouse tweeted. “She does not see race in EVERYTHING! YOU DO”