KILLEEN, Texas — Killeen resident Daniell Rider responded Wednesday to backlash she has received after posting to Facebook a photo of a faux raw cotton decorative plant sold at craft giant Hobby Lobby — a company she urged to remove the decor by arguing the decoration was insensitive.
“This decor is WRONG on SO many levels. There is nothing decorative about raw cotton…a commodity which was gained at the expense of African-American slaves,” Rider wrote on Facebook. “A little sensitivity goes a long way. PLEASE REMOVE THIS ‘decor.'”
The post had been shared more than 23,000 times and generated more than 248,000 comments, as of Wednesday evening. An overwhelming majority of the comments disagree with Rider’s opinion.
“I feel like we need to let go of what happened in the past. It’s just cotton. I don’t think there was any offensive or racist demeanor to it,” one commenter wrote. “We all just need to relax and stop being so over-sensitive about everything.”
Another said: “If you don’t like the cotton decor, then you should probably not wear any clothing items made of it as well…which I’m sure that is not the case…let’s not be picky people.”
But, some commenters came to Rider’s defense.
“Proud of you for stating how you feel,” one supporter wrote. “Social media has created a culture of cowards hiding behind a keyboard and bullies hiding behind a screen, where it’s ‘my way of thinking or NO WAY!’ When did we turn into a country of robots? Congratulations, way to take a stand!”
For her part, Rider said she had received death threats and been called racial slurs since posting her view to Facebook.
The item at the center of the dispute, referred to on Hobby Lobby’s website as “Cotton Stems in Glass Vase,” was selling Wednesday for $15 online — roughly half off its normal $29.99 online price.
Hobby Lobby, which also sells cotton wreaths, did not respond to a request for comment. Other Central Texas shopping destinations including Magnolia Market and Kirkland’s sell decorative cotton products, as well.
“It doesn’t represent a decoration for me it represents a time of oppression for my people,” Rider told KCEN-TV reporter Emani Payne in an interview Wednesday.
Rider said she did not regret her post, adding she hopes a representative for Hobby Lobby will reach out to her and consider removing the cotton decoration from store shelves.
“I wasn’t trying to be divisive,” Rider explained. “If I was trying to be divisive I would’ve talked about the world, race relations. I am simply a consumer talking to a retailer. And, all I said was I found something offensive”
KCEN-TV has decided to post the entire raw interview with Rider below, so audiences can hear her opinions and make up their own minds. You can also see her original Facebook post in its entirety below the video. By clicking on the Facebook post at the bottom of the story, you will also be able to read unfiltered comments from both sides of the debate.