A Black Republican who’s challenging U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley says she’s fled her Randolph home in fear for her life after a Boston activist’s video went viral questioning the woman’s Blackness and making crude references to her sex with her white husband.
“This is racism to the ultimate level. … Racism is racism no matter where it comes from,” Rayla Campbell, the Randolph Republican, told the Herald on Tuesday. “I was horrified and absolutely terrified. I had to uproot my family and just stay elsewhere.”
In a Friday video widely disseminated by the blog Turtleboy over the weekend, Roxbury community activist Monica Cannon-Grant repeatedly called Campbell a “heifer” and made frequent crude references to Campbell’s white husband.
Cannon-Grant, who’s also Black, took issue with Campbell’s run against Pressley, as well as white district attorneys’ opposition to Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins. Cannon-Grant said that Black women should defend fellow Black women like Pressley and Rollins, particularly against white opposition.
Campbell, who’s running a write-in campaign to get on the November ballot, said she wants apologies from Cannon-Grant, Pressley and U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who also has touted Cannon-Grant’s support in his U.S. Senate run, but the two members of Congress didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Rollins has quickly distanced herself from the video, telling the Herald and Campbell herself that the attacks on Campbell’s family life are deeply inappropriate.
Cannon-Grant, a longtime anti-violence advocate in Boston who received plaudits and a glowing Boston Globe profile after she organized a mammoth Black Lives Matter rally in Franklin Park last month, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment on Tuesday. On Monday, her organization’s Facebook page posted a statement criticizing the Turtleboy blog and highlighting several deeply racist messages she said she’d received since the video began to make waves.
“I do wish I had been more careful with my words when I commented about an individual seeking public office last week, and for that I take responsibility — this work requires more from me right now, and I’m learning to deal with this bigger spotlight,” Cannon-Grant wrote.
Rollins confirmed that she called Campbell to check on her and condemn the video. The DA said she told Campbell — who she said she’s never met before — that she had nothing to do with the video.
“Public attacks that go after innocent family members and children are a bridge too far,” Rollins said. “I have not watched the video that Monica made, but I am told that it makes reference to Rayla’s husband, his race, and intimate aspects of their relationship. How is this relevant to a candidate’s electability, policy and platform? It isn’t. Who someone chooses to love and the people they call family are deeply personal and completely off-limits during campaigns.”
In the video, Cannon-Grant made repeated graphically vulgar references to Campbell’s interracial sexual relationship, and said there’s “something wrong with” Campbell, who she described as a “melanin-adjacent woman whose proximity to white supremacy is so disgusting.”
“I thought we as a people have gotten way past that,” Campbell said of the attacks on her interracial marriage.