The CEO of a nationwide spice retail chain has accused people who voted for President-elect Donald Trump of committing “the biggest act of racism in American history since Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway 53 years ago.”
Penzeys Spices CEO Bill Penzey is facing backlash for comments he made in an email newsletter to customers last week, the Milwaukee Business Journal reported.
“The open embrace of racism by the Republican Party in this election is now unleashing a wave of ugliness unseen in this country for decades. The American people are taking notice,” he wrote.
Mr. Penzey stood firm by his statement in a Facebook post Thursday but admitted that not all Republicans are racist.
“For the rest of you, you just voted for an openly racist candidate for the presidency of the United States of America,” he wrote. “In your defense, most of you did so without thinking of the consequences of your candidate’s racism because, for most of you the heartbreaking destruction racism causes has never been anything you or your loved ones have had to experience.
“Whether any of us like it or not, for the next four years the 80% of this country who did not just vote for an openly racist candidate are going to treat you like you are the kind of person who would vote for an openly racist candidate,” he continued.
Mr. Penzey suggested that Mr. Trump’s supporters redeem themselves by volunteering this Thanksgiving or making a donation to the American Civil Liberties Union or Southern Poverty Law Center.
“You can get angry at everyone else for treating you like you just did the thing you just did, or you can take responsibility for your actions and begin to make amends,” he wrote. “More often than not, those we meet cooking and serving food to feed those in need are Republicans. You really are a good bunch, but you just committed the biggest act of racism in American history since Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway 53 years ago. Make this right. Take ownership for what you have done and begin the pathway forward.”
His comments elicited a mixed reaction on social media, with some commenters praising the CEO for standing up for his beliefs and others calling for a boycott.
Milwaukee County Sheriff and outspoken black conservative David Clarke also weighed in on the controversy, tweeting: “This typical hate-filled white elitist lefty doesn’t live around black people or have stores in black neighborhoods,” the Milwaukee Business Journal reported.
Penzeys Spices, based in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, reportedly operates 70 retail outlets in 29 states nationwide.