What makes a white Illinois lottery executive, with a comfortable six-figure income, feel entitled to make blatantly racist remarks on social media regarding the city of East St. Louis? Is it simply white privilege, arrogance or dormant racism made acceptable in the era of Donald Trump?
Well, Blair Garber of Evanston, IL is now the former chairman of the Illinois Lottery Control Board after being fired over a hideous January 17 tweet in which he disparaged East Boogie in very racist and explicit terms.
It all started after a January 11 White House meeting in which President Donald Trump reportedly referred to Africa and Haiti as “shithole” nations. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) exposed the remarks during a Chicago news conference, only to be taunted by a January 16 tweet by country music singer Charlie Daniels.
Daniels tweeted, “Mr. Durbin I’m so sorry that your virgin ears were blistered by the absolutely horrible language president Trump used in front of you…hope you didn’t wet your pants too.”
That’s when Mr. Garber decided to add his two cents to the racist tweet storm, replying “Charlie, Durbin’s home town is (get this) East St. Louis Illinois! The shithole of the universe! Just do a Google search.”
The condemnations were justifiably swift, with Senator Durbin referring to the remarks as “disgusting because it is a good city, a lot of good families and people, struggling against the odds. I am proud to say, and I do it publicly all the time, (I was) born and raised in East St. Louis.”
State Senator James Clayborne (D-Belleville) called for Garber’s resignation, stating, “For someone who claims to love the entire state, Governor Bruce Rauner seems to surround himself with people who care little for communities besides their own.”
Garber went on to apologize and, ultimately, “resign” from his post, which is typical political damage control in such instances.
However, before he tweeted Garber should have done his homework and he would have realized that he was insulting a community which was very valuable to the Illinois state lottery program.
According to research from Harvard’s Kennedy School and their Shorenstein Center’s research on lotteries, the “poor are still the leading patrons of the lottery.” East St. Louis has a poverty rate of 45.8 percent and a median yearly household income of $19, 500.
So not only did Mr. Garber most likely insult some of his best customers, but he was thoughtless and racist in doing so. Was he oblivious to these facts or simply counted on the powerlessness of poor blacks in general?
Or was he well-informed? The Harvard research goes on to say that “even the people who were made to feel poor (or as “shitholes”) buy lotteries.”
Whatever the case, good riddance to Mr. Garber. Perhaps the next time he tweets he will think twice about whether his insults will, ultimately, land him in the unemployment line.