• Castleman controversy continues in Cherokee Triangle
    Castleman controversy continues in Cherokee Triangle
  • Controversial statue of Confederate officer: Meet John B. Castleman
    Controversial statue of Confederate officer: Meet John B. Castleman
  • Protesters demand the removal of Castleman statue in Cherokee Triangle
    Protesters demand the removal of Castleman statue in Cherokee Triangle
  • 90 Second Breakdown: Confederate Monuments
    90 Second Breakdown: Confederate Monuments
  • 5 facts about the Confederate flag
    5 facts about the Confederate flag
  • Confederate monument at U of L dismantled Saturday
    Confederate monument at U of L dismantled Saturday
  • Confederate monument time capsule is opened
    Confederate monument time capsule is opened
 1146LINKEDIN 10COMMENTMORE
When Chanelle Helm took to Facebook following this month's violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, she wasn't expecting a fierce backlash from national conservative media outlets and a bottomless pit of internet trolls.
But her words, which went viral after they were also published by Louisville's alternative LEO Weekly, have been quoted and shared by right-wing outlets including Breitbart, The Blaze and The Daily Wire.
Now, Helm is getting death threats. 
"I didn't think that right-wing nut jobs would take it and twist and turn my words into whatever they wanted to turn them into," Helm said.
Her piece, "White people, here are 10 requests from a Black Lives Matter leader," begins with an introduction from Helm: "Some things I'm thinking about that should change."
Helm, a co-founder and core organizer of Black Lives Matter-Louisville, goes on to make suggestions about restorative justice and reparations: White people without descendants should will their property to a black or brown family; give inherited property they intend to sell to a black or brown family; or if they're downsizing and can afford it, give the old property to a black or brown family.







She said those acts of restorative justice in the form of reparations to people of color who have been criminally oppressed by white society should ideally be focused on families burdened by generational poverty.
Helm also tells white people that if any of the people in their will are "racist a**holes," change the will to give your estate to a black or brown family. While you're at it, re-budget to find money to donate to funds organized to purchase land for people of color.
"Commit to two things: Fighting white supremacy where and how you can (this doesn't mean taking up knitting, unless you're making scarves for black and brown kids in need), and funding black and brown people and their work," wrote Helm, who also was a key organizer in last week's largely peaceful Boston march against white supremacists and white nationalists.
The message of the list, she says, was for "white allies and accomplices" who wonder what more they can do. The list continues with suggestions that white people work to get racists fired, call the police on racists, confront racists and "if you need to, you got hands: use them."
"It's time for you to do something," she told the Courier-Journal on Thursday, describing the message. "It's time for you to stop reading, it's time for you to stop going to panels, it's time for you to stop sitting in your corner of the world and not doing anything."
Helm's comments became a lightning rod for criticism from the white right.
"Black Lives Matter Activist Unveils List of Demands To White People: 'Give Up the Home You Own,' " the headline on Breitbart's coverage of Helm's list says.
"Her demands would push more people apart and further racism, thus elongating the tenure of racism everywhere," a story on Trending Views reads.
And that coverage, in turn, led to vitriolic comments and social media threats.
Comments like "All she is going to get is a bullet" and "blacks are full of sh-t" and "You can have my bullets ... I have one for each of you ... trust me, I do" appeared on dozens of YouTube and Facebook accounts addressing Helm's piece.
Helm says she's taking them seriously and has had discussions with her lawyer as well as a team of people following the response.
"This entire climate is really built off this presidential administration, with Trump having those rallies and inciting those things," Helm said. "If anything says anything about a divide, he's the one opening this divide."
Aaron Yarmuth, LEO Weekly's executive editor, said editors felt a "responsibility" to reach out to Black Lives Matter-Louisville in the wake of the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, given the organization's local and national influence. 
Editors expected a big reaction to the piece, but were not anticipating "fringe websites to repackage her words as clickbait or propaganda," he added. 
"There certainly are a lot of conversations being had on the merits of her message, but it has gotten largely drowned out and warped by people who didn't understand it, who took it either personally or as something else," Yarmuth said, adding that the piece seems to have brought out the "worst underbelly of the Internet."







LEO Weekly received some backlash on social media and through email for publishing the piece, but has received nothing of a violent or pointedly racist nature, Yarmuth said. 
To Helm, calling her post racist, as some outlets did, is an "erasure" of what racism is, Helm added.
"Racism is something that only white people can obtain because white people built it," she said. "They built it so that they can maintain power."
As for her original post: "When it gets twisted, the message gets lost," she said. But, in some spaces, despite the backlash, there are larger discussions taking place about generational poverty, economic inequality, and other issues, she said, that sparked her piece.
In Louisville, Helm sees whole sections of the city being ignored, citing the lack of accessible jobs for people of color to support themselves or their families, and the closures of four grocery stores that leave residents of color without easy access to reasonably priced and healthful food.
"We've got the mayor deeming it a compassionate city — there's nothing compassionate nowhere in this damn city," she said.
Helm concluded her piece with links to contribute money to her personal accounts, Black Lives Matter-Louisville and a host of other groups or causes that "are doing work" on the ground and creating spaces for black people.
"Trust in us in what we say and what we do," Helm said.