Earlier this month, a Virginia race track owner Whitey Taylor announced he would let all black people in for free in order to promote diversity.
WDBJ 7 News reported on Taylor’s marketing strategy and the community reaction. Taylor told the station:
"Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m., all African-Americans; black people, we're going to invite them to come down"," said Taylor. "We have families that come here, they love the place. But I want to open this up. Mostly, it's white people that come and they enjoy but I want to bring in a whole segment of people."
While Taylor’s intentions may have been positive, this was a counterproductive method of promoting diversity. The underlying mentality with this approach is that white people are the default race; Gathering a few people of color somehow results in diversity? Achieving a balanced representation of various backgrounds is much more complex than that.
When asked about other races being allowed in the race track for free, Taylor responded:
"We'll offer at different times of the year, we'll offer all the people free admission," said Taylor.
This begs the question: Do mixed race people get their own weekends? Or do they get free access on two separate weekends? Is there somebody at the entrance to the park policing people’s racial identities before permitting them access? Is there a race gatekeeper?!
Robert Carson, the President of the Bedford NAACP chapter, could not have said it better:
"He's going to create more problems for himself. I think he's going by it the wrong way. I think that if he wanted (people) to patronize his track he should have went through the community leaders or talk to some of the African-Americans that go to his track."