Mistaken for Muslim Refugees, Western Kentucky Couple Targeted on Social Media

Jan 6, 2017

Lyon County, Kentucky
Credit Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

An African American couple who recently moved to Lyon County have become a target of confusion and fear on social media. Area residents have taken to outlets including Facebook and Topix voicing concern about a rumored ‘Muslim’ group of ‘Refugees’ on private property.

Tamiko Banks and her husband Eric purchased the land and have been living there for two months since moving from another city in western Kentucky in which they had lived for about ten years.

Banks and her husband lead in their home a small gathering of about 20 non-denominational followers under the title of ‘Watchman,’ which she said is a biblical title or mandate by those who teach prophecy. According to Banks, her followers are “servants of the most high of Heaven” and not affiliated with a certain religion or other organizations.

Banks said she’s had up to five people stop by her house in a single day. “Many of them were bringing gifts which we really appreciate that. Those were nice kind gestures, another person showed up and they had a weapon and I don’t know what the reason was and I’m not going to speculate, but I guess you could consider that as I have this and I want you to know I have it.”

Some passersby have shouted the ‘n word.’ “Anyone that’s living today knows that there’s a racial problem in this country. We have to learn how to navigate and fight through that. For us it's difficult because we’re on the receiving end of it. We’ve always been loving and fair to everyone but we haven’t always received that in return.”

She said the buzz about her family was to be expected because the social atmosphere is very politically charged. She said she feels as ‘so-called black people’ that she is made to feel suppressed when talking about racial issues and should not discuss these things in the face of adversity. “It’s sad that we are being judged simply because we are black… If we were a group of Asians on the land, I think we wouldn’t be experiencing this.”

Addressing concerns on Facebook, County Judge Executive Wade White said he is aware of the assembly and urges people to keep facts separated from rumor. Lyon County Sheriff’s Department said they have not received any complaints.

Banks said people are often uncomfortable with the history of black people in the United States and as such would rather not discuss it, “Everyone talks of healing, but there is no healing unless we address the past and learn how to move forward. How can you move forward if you’re not understanding?” She said it’s not a “post racial” country when people drive by shouting the ‘n-word.’

Banks said she and her husband are peaceful and loving. She said her husband has a Baptist and Apostolic background and she has a Church of God in Christ background. She is no stranger to discrimination, she said, having grown up in Detroit she experienced adversity in both black and white communities. She said they have visited churches in the area and are currently working to get acquainted in their new home. She said generally people are friendlier in Kentucky than up north.

Banks said, “Our message to anyone is that it’s important to have a good relationship with The Most High because your relationship with people here on Earth, at the end of the day, if you’re not loving people here on the Earth you can’t claim to love God.”