NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas — A racist op-ed was published in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung newspaper last week sparked outrage among many in the New Braunfels community.
Published with a headline titled “Do Black Lives Matter to Blacks,” the column, written by a white man from Canyon Lake, used derogatory language and phrases to question the validity of the Black Lives Matter movement.
One particularly offensive statement penned by the author says, “I can't buy into the BLM legitimacy until there are reports of marches and protests at the cribs and neighborhoods of the Black, gun-wielding drug dealers and thugs who are killing the Black children.”
He continues his rant using phrases like "Black miscreants" while adding “I'm just not convinced how concerned I should be about Black lives.”
For Black members of New Braunfels, a predominately white community, seeing this opinion in the paper prompted some to take action.
Dr. Jessica Edwards lives in New Braunfels with her husband and young son, Franklin.
Although she admits she's a city girl, Dr. Edwards moved to the area a few years ago to continue her medical practice.
“My impression here has been that people are generally very nice, I haven’t encountered any major issues," Dr. Edwards said.
But on July 23, she saw the inflammatory opinion column in the local newspaper.
“When I saw the headline, I said ‘I can’t read it, I’m gonna get too upset,’” said Dr. Edwards.
She decided to read it anyway, and immediately after, she sprang into action.
“My husband has a video of me, I don’t know if you’ve seen the meme of the typing cat, but that was basically me, just 'type, type, type,' said Dr. Edwards. "I really wanted to get it out and I kind of channeled that energy into something positive and said let me use this as an opportunity to educate.”
Dr. Edwards wrote a response letter to Mark Whittaker — the author of the op-ed — explaining why his racist view of the Black Lives Matter movement comes from a lack of information and facts.
“I felt like it was really important for him to know, ‘hey I’m a part of your community. I’m a physician here, I live here, I work here, I worship here.’ All of those things for him to know that I’m not writing this as an outsider," she said.
The Herald-Zeitung has since apologized for publishing Whittaker’s submission, saying that it is “wrong in so many ways, while carrying echoes of white supremacist talking points that have been spoon-fed to Americans for decades.”
The paper has also vowed not to publish any submissions from Whittaker in the future.
We reached out to Whittaker for an interview, but he declined to speak with us citing his unwillingness to do so without seeing a prepared script for this story before the interview.
Dr. Edwards’ response to Whittaker was published in the Herald just two days later.
It now hangs in her office as a reminder of what can happen when you use your voice.
“I feel hope, I feel pride, I feel that this is a huge step in the right direction for this little old German town that I’m living in," said Dr. Edwards.
And in a town where the Black community accounts for only 2 percent of the population, Dr. Edwards hopes other people of color in New Braunfels aren’t afraid to speak out as well.
“If our voices aren’t heard in less diverse places, how do we expect changes to happen all across the board?” she said.
On July 30, another Black doctor in New Braunfels penned his own response to last week's racist op-ed.
Dr. Eric Miller has been part of the New Braunfels community for about 16 years and is an interventional pain management physician.
His article, titled “Education Needed for Meaningful Discussions,” examines the systemic problem with interactions between police and unarmed African Americans in the last decade.
Dr. Miller says he hopes to one day to have a respectful conversation with Whittaker about racism and the Black Lives Matter movement, and encourages readers to do their own research and educate themselves.