“Desi Banks Is Canceled” became a Twitter trend on May 30 after the comedian posted a controversial meme in the wake of the protests over the death of George Floyd.
Banks is a comedian and online sensation with a range of characters that appear across his social media pages. Banks’ characters include Uncle Earl, Lil Johnny, Keisha,Grandma Reese, Parlay and Lil Johnny. On Instagram alone, Banks boasts close to 5 million followers.
The controversial meme shows Dr. Martin Luther King marching with other civil rights campaigners marching. The letters printed across that image read, “This is a protest.” Beneath it, protesters from the 2020 Minneapolis riots are shown. The letters across that image reads, “This is a crime.” The photo of Dr. King shows him alongside his wife, Coretta Scott King, on a 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama on March 30, 1965.
Banks Has Apologized Saying He Has ‘Learned’ From the Situation
In the fallout from posting the meme, Banks has apologized in a video uploaded to his Instagram page. Banks says in his apology that he is has read many of the tweets that were critical of the meme and that he was listening to his fans. Banks says, “I have learned from the situation. I was able to speak with some friends and some elders to get a better understanding, to really explain what it is that I really put out.” Banks added, “I’m not against y’all. I’m not against no black people.” Banks also said that he felt that he wanted to know what else could have been done besides “rioting.”
The video concludes with Banks saying, “We got their attention. What can we do now? I’m willing to get up with anybody who want to get up and talk about this situation, seeing what we can do. I’m willing to be a voice with the platform I got.” On his Instagram story, Banks said, “Hope you all feel me. Everything I do and say is out of love.”
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Matthew Cherry responded to Banks’ post with this meme:
Banks also tweeted about the protests, “Change never come through violence, violence create more problems.”
Banks Posted the Meme About Alleged Looting the Day After Donald Trump Tweeted: ‘When the Looting Starts, the Shooting Starts’
Banks comments came a day after President Donald Trump tweeted that a military option was on the table in response to the protests. Trump added, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” The tweet was later flagged by Twitter as potentially inciting violence.
Professor Clarence Lusane of Howard University told NPR about the history behind the phrase, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” which was first uttered by Miami police chief Walter Headley. Professor Lusane said:
[Headley] had a long history of bigotry against the black community. The NAACP and other black organizations had for years complained about the treatment of the black community by Miami police. At this hearing, in discussing how he would deal with what he called crime and thugs and threats by young black people, he issued this statement that the reason Miami had not had any riots up to that point, was because of the message he had sent out that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”