BECKLEY, W.V. – The nation’s largest mining union issued a rare public apology on Friday after shocking images surfaced this week depicting a group of predominantly white mine workers emerging from a rural West Virginia coal mine wearing blackface.
“This is not who we are,” United Mine Workers of America president Cecil Robertson said in a statement posted to the organization’s website. “The rogue actions of a handful of disgruntled individuals do not reflect the values of the United Mine Workers of America or its members,” Robertson said, adding that beginning January 1, 2020, all UMWA members will be required to undergo a mandatory six-month racial-bias and sensitivity training seminar.
Maya Davis, a prominent blogger and self-described ‘social justice warrior,’ blasted Robertson’s statement, calling it “half-hearted at best.” The twenty-nine-year-old former dog walker told MSNBC that such incidents are not isolated. “Sure, those of us who are less woke tend to look at this and think, okay, these miners are all backwoods bumpkin types hopped up on methamphetamine or whatever crazy sh*t they’ve cooked up in their bathtubs, but the reality is actions have consequences and people need to be held accountable.”
Azariah Landry, co-founder of the American Anti-Blackface Coalition, or Double A-BC, said their organization recently launched a petition calling on the United Mine Workers of America to hire diversity officers tasked with monitoring mining operations throughout the country. “We’re also pushing for the installation of chemical showers at every mine exit to prevent any further incidents,” they said.
For her part, Maya Davis says change must be immediate and radical. “As a privileged white person, I find it absolutely appalling that right this very minute, all across America, thousands –possibly tens of thousands– of miners are punching out and walking off the job site in blackface and no one bats an eye,” the veteran social justice warrior told Real News Right Now, adding, “I am sick to my stomach thinking about it. Like, I’m literally under my desk dry-heaving into a paper bag.”