An Oregon woman’s image has gone viral, and not in a good way.
Amber Lee Hughes, 31, of Cottage Grove says that on Monday, Aug. 12, she was made aware that a flyer advertising babysitting services for “White kids only” was making the rounds online. The flyer uses the name “Debra Allen” but features Hughes’ image and has her phone number.
Hughes says she did not make the flyers and is not racist, nor is she currently a babysitter.
As of Tues. Aug. 13 the image had been upvoted nearly 45,000 times on the Reddit subreddit r/trashy. It has also been shared on Twitter, Facebook and at least one blog. Parenting blog BabyGaga’s Helena Martin wrote in a post that the babysitter had posted the flyer on a bulletin board.
Hughes disputes that claim and says she doesn’t know where the flyers are located.
“I’m currently working toward bettering my life,” she says. She is attending Lane Community College, working toward entering the culinary arts program and hopes to become a pastry chef.
And Hughes adds, “I’m not even doing any babysitting right now.”
When asked who she thinks might be responsible for the flyers, she says she can’t be certain, but thinks it may have been one of her ex-boyfriends.
“I’m not racist at all,” Hughes says. “I don’t care what skin color you have — we all have the same feelings, and this kind of stuff is just mean and rude. If I hear someone say something racist, I look at them like, ‘Really?’”
She adds, “I love kids. They’re innocent little people just trying to figure things out. They don’t need that kind of stuff.”
Hughes says since the flyer has gone viral, she has been harassed online and has had to change her phone number in order to stop people from calling and threatening her.
“It hurts. I’m mad, I’m angry and I just want it to stop.”
Comments on Reddit and other social media have likewise been critical. On Reddit, many users also pointed out the 541 area code, stating that they were unsurprised. Many guessed that the flyer was posted in either eastern or Southern Oregon.
Some comments even pointed to Oregon being founded as a whites-only racist utopia and that the state has a long history of racism. During the Jim Crow era, Eugene and surrounding Lane County towns were known as so-called “sundown towns,” meaning that minorities were not welcome after dark. The KKK also held cross-burning gatherings on Skinner Butte.
The posting of the flyer could not have come at a worse time for Hughes as the country, state and local area all struggle with issues of race and racism. Eugene in particular has recently seen racist vandalism, an uptick in reported hate crimes, and was just host to a right-wing, pro-Trump rally that many viewed as racist. Additionally, Portland will be host to another right-wing rally Aug. 17 that is known to include white supremacist groups and is expected to get violent.
Hughes reiterated that she wants to let people know she is not racist.
“Everyone who knows me knows I’m not racist,” she says. “I would never do something like that.”