By now you’ve probably heard about the racist rant that Loeb progeny, Lauren Loeb allegedly delivered by phone in Turks and Caicos last week.
Both Lauren Loeb, the granddaughter of former Memphis mayor Henry Loeb, and the other Loeb family branch, which runs Loeb Properties, have their lawyers’ wheels spinning, hoping to stem the destruction caused by Lauren’s (allegedly) hateful potty mouth. (Here’s the transcript of the call.)
The denial and distance game isn’t sitting well with many Memphians, especially black Memphians, for whom this incident opened recent and aged wounds regarding both branches of the Loeb family and their history of discriminatory business and political practices.
The Loeb family (both branches) might find the legal and media spin route isn’t the best route. So here are 5 quick actions (in the vein of Heavy.com) they can take to begin to make amends for it all — from Henry Loeb’s role in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder to Loeb Properties’ discriminatory leasing practices to Lauren Loeb’s (allegedly) spoiled racist tantrum and everything in between.
- Apologize for Henry Loeb’s (their grandfather/uncle) complicity in the death of Dr. King, his treatment of the striking sanitation workers. Atone by making a donation to the National Civil Rights Museum, directly to the surviving sanitation strikers or their descendants and to other black-run social justice organizations.
- Acknowledge their family’s financial gain from segregation. Pay reparations by donating property and money to build a technologically advanced community center in an underserved neighborhood that has suffered the effects of systemic racism in Memphis.
- Revise their business practices. Commit that moving forward 50 percent or more of their new tenants will be people of color and 25 percent or more of their business partners or sub-contractors will be minority-owned businesses. Additionally, include equitable treatment clauses in their leases, the violation of which demands termination.
- Add black people to their board and all-white management team so that the perspective of all Memphians is reflected in their business decisions and to ensure they are not participating in the further marginalization of people of color and low-income communities.
- For Lauren Loeb and her husband Joe Marelle: Retract the statement that the recording was fake and issue a genuine apology. Donate the cost of their June 3 wedding celebration at the Annesdale mansion or $100,000, whichever is higher, to any of the neighborhoods west of the mansion, for non-gentrified revitalization efforts. (Edit: I am remiss in not considering the actual victims of the verbal attack, the staff of Mango Reef in Turks & Caicos. They should be rewarded financially for returning the phone that Lauren Loeb misplaced and receive a settlement for the attempted defamation of their characters.)
For those asking, why does any of this matter and how are the other Loeb’s responsible for Lauren Loeb’s behavior, I’ll let Dr. King himself answer that: “Capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor — both black and white, both here and abroad.” Lauren’s privilege and wealth is the outcome of generations of profit from the exploitation of black people in Memphis. The same is true for the owners of Loeb Properties who profited from segregation to own 2 million square feet of Memphis land today. While Lauren’s outburst was an outward show of this privilege, the family businesses have implicitly participated in equally distasteful acts and should be held responsible for the unbalanced system of racism and generational poverty that they benefit from today.
Tami Sawyer is an education reformer and a local social and political activist. She believes Black Lives Matter and so should you.