A Wyoming Representative has apologized after posting a tweet with racist connotations about his state’s first Black sheriff.
According to the Casper Star Tribune, Republican Rep. Cyrus Western of Sheridan apologized to the newly appointed Albany County Sheriff Aaron Appelhans after he replied to a tweet about the lawmaker’s appointment with a GIF from Blazing Saddles, showing actor Cleavon Little asking, “Where the white woman?”
Western, who deleted the tweet after criticism, said it was intended to be a reference to the film and not to disparage Appelhans. In the film, Little played protagonist Sheriff Bart, a former slave who challenged the racist sensibilities of an all-white town in a lampoon of the racism often obscured by Hollywood’s depictions of the Old West.
“I’d like to issue a retraction,” Western wrote in a tweet Wednesday morning (December 16). “My remark about the new Albany Sheriff was dumb and uncalled for.”
“What I did was insensitive, and, while unintended, I recognize that it was wrong,” he added. “I hope he accepts my apology.”
Appelhans confirmed on Wednesday that Western called to apologize.
“We definitely had a conversation about — how do I say it — his tweet and the connotations of it as well, racist connotations. He was apologetic and we had a conversation about being a politician and making sure you’re representing the people who elected you to office,” Appelhans said. “Just on a broader scale, knowing he represents a portion of the state, he also represents the state as well.”
While Western claims his tweet wasn’t meant to be racist, it contains a stereotype about Black men that dates back centuries regarding the pursuit of white women. The murder of Emmitt Till highlights historically how any appeal to white women by Black men would result in death.