Leigh Ann Tuohy is the adopted mother of NFL tackle Michael Oher, the player whose story inspired the book and movie The Blind Side. And it appears that watching Sandra Bullock play her on the big screen may have given her a bit of a messiah complex.
A few days ago, Tuohy posted the photo above (and accompanying story below) on her Facebook and Instagram accounts.
We see what we want! It’s the gospel truth! These two were literally huddled over in a corner table nose to nose and the person with me said “I bet they are up to no good” well you know me… I walked over, told them to scoot over. After 10 seconds of dead silence I said so whats happening at this table? I get nothing.. I then explained it was my store and they should spill it… They showed me their phones and they were texting friends trying to scrape up $3.00 each for the high school basketball game! Well they left with smiles, money for popcorn and bus fare. We gave to STOP judging people and assuming and pigeon holing people! Don’t judge a book by its cover or however you’d like to express the sentiment! Accept others and stop seeing what you want to see!!! #LeighAnnesSundaySermon #BelieveInOthers
In spite of her efforts to paint herself as the loving white savior in this scenario, people immediately started giving her the side-eye for her lack of self awareness.
Belle Jar writer Anne Thériault opines
Leigh Anne Tuohy profiled two Black kids, invaded their privacy and interrogated them, but somehow people are behaving as if this is some kind of wonderful social justice moment. No. Not even a little. This is some f*cked up racial profiling combined with white saviourism, and it is racist as hell. Assuming that those kids were doing something bad was racist. Assuming that she could take up space at their table was racist. Insisting that they talk to her was disrespectful and racist. Wanting evidence that they weren’t up to no good was racist. Treating those boys as props to make her look good and then posting this picture publicly (and honestly, I wonder if the boys consented to that) is incredibly racist.
Also, can we talk about how problematic using the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” is when it comes to talking about race? First of all, it begins with the assumption that the “cover” (or in this case, skin) tells you something unappealing about the contents of the book or person. It also implies that there is something unattractive or bad about the “cover” (or, again, skin). I can’t believe that I have to say this, but: there is nothing wrong or bad about Black skin. Black skin is not unpleasant or ugly, and to imply that dark skin might devalue someone is really, really f*cked up.
Thériault and critics like her have now been validated in their skepticism, because in the last 48 hours one of the young men from the Instagram picture has come forward giving his take on the photo op.
He also explained the “deal” he made with Tuohy to pay her good deed forward.
We won’t go so far as to say that Tuohy is a racist, but it’s clear that her desire for self promotion (and epic blind spot about her own white privilege) have both seriously clouded her vision on this one.