An activist lawyer in Austin admitted in a Facebook rant that he was behind the “Exclusively for White People” stickers that appeared on store windows across the city last week, Mediaite reported.
“I never imagined it would be this easy,” he wrote on March 19. “Remember it is valuable to see just what giving a f*ck does to people as well as what not giving a f*ck does for people.”
Adam and his friends posted on his Facebook wall mocking Austin authorities, saying the prank’s cultural statement went “way over their heads.”
“Amazed at how many folks completely missed the satire of Adam Reposa’s brilliantly disruptive yet pretty much harmless “white people stickers,” wrote one Facebook user. “The new Mayor and Rep Dawna Dukes and even the NAACP chairman all missed the point, diverted the discussion, and they totally squandered their opportunity to address the very real problem of gentrification and systemic racism in Austin.”
Reposa later recorded a video further explaining his motivations for the stunt. In it, he says that he wanted to make people aware of how gentrification was driving blacks out and turning Austin into a “whites only” town.
“I knew I could bait y’all into being as stupid as you are, just by allowing the issue to be framed in the most simple way,” Reposa said. “Like, ‘Oh, he said an offensive term — let’s not worry about the actual condition of the way things are.'”
During the SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival
last week, at least six Austin, TX businesses were plastered with stickers reading “Exclusively For White People. Maximum of 5 coloured customers. Coloured BOH staff accepted. Sponsored by the City of Austin Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program.” The stickers also featured an official City of Austin logo, according to the Huffington Post.
Texas residents, lawmakers and NAACP representatives deemed the vandalism a hate crime, but if Reposa is telling the truth, the prank appears now to have been nothing more than a social critique of the city’s increasing gentrification.
“Why I did it is pretty clear,” a shirtless Reposa says in the video, “because it would be obvious that even though people know the real problem — and the problem is people without money are getting f****d — they’re getting pushed out, and pretty quick.”
To some extent, Reposa has a point. Austin is the fastest-growing city in the US, gaining more than 40,000 new residents every year. These new residents are, for the most part, white and wealthy and they are pricing poorer, mostly minority residents out of their homes and neighbourhoods, according to the Daily Texan.
“Among the ten fastest growing major cities in the United States, Austin stood out in one crucial respect,” researchers stated in a report released last year by the UT Austin Insitute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis. “It was the only such city that suffered a net loss in its African-American population” between 2000-2010.
The slogan “Keep Austin Weird” started trending a few years ago among residents hoping to preserve the city’s identity as a cultural melting pot. But the city is only becoming more homogeneous as real estate developers push African-Americans and other minority groups out of East Austin and into run-down not-quite-suburban areas.
Economic segregation between the city’s haves and have-nots has inevitably resulted in the racial segregation of its residents, reminding many of the city’s 1928 ‘master plan‘ to remove blacks from the city and force them into neighbourhoods east of what is now Interstate 35.
“Austin is quickly becoming a city of the privileged and the nonprivileged,” the Rev. Freddie Dixon, who for 22 years served as pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church, told the Statesman. “Is that the kind of Austin we want?”
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