No, I ain’t talking guitars now, but bakeries.
A business is only as strong as its reputation.
For more than 130 years, this principle served my family well. We own and operate Gibson’s Bakery in the City of Oberlin, Ohio — home to Oberlin College. Over that time, we have worked hard to build a reputation on our homemade baked goods, candy and ice cream, and on our commitment to our community.
Started by my great grandfather in 1885, the bakery has always been a source of pride for our family. For decades I’ve worked alongside my father, Allyn W. Gibson, known around Oberlin as “Grandpa Gibson.” At 90, he still comes to work nearly every day, where I’m joined by my son, and my 11-year-old grandson on the weekends.
On Nov. 9, 2016, a student attempted to shoplift two bottles of wine from our store. Unfortunately, theft is all too common at Gibson’s Bakery. Like many small businesses in Oberlin, our employees have caught plenty of shoplifters over the years — many of them students.
Police arrested the student. But the next day, hundreds of people gathered in protest. From bullhorns they called for a boycott. The sidewalk and park across the street from our store were filled with protesters holding signs labeling us racists and white supremacists. The arrest, they said, was the result of racial profiling. The narrative was set and there was no combating it.
Despite the lack of any evidence, our family was accused of a long history of racism and discrimination. Oberlin College officials ordered the suspension of the more than 100-year business relationship with our bakery, and our customers dwindled. We were officially on trial — not in a courtroom, but in the court of public opinion. And we were losing.
As time went on, the truth began to emerge. The shoplifter confessed to his crime and said the arrest wasn’t racially motivated. But Oberlin College refused to help set the record straight by issuing a public statement that our family is not racist and does not have a history of racial profiling or discrimination.
The damage had been done. And the truth seemed irrelevant. In a small city like Oberlin, having the largest business and employer against you is more than enough to seal your fate.
Running out of options, we decided to pursue a lawsuit against Oberlin College. Two regional law firms agreed to take our case.
As the extended legal battle dragged on, many asked why I didn’t just quit. Wouldn’t it be easier to close up shop and move on?
In the end, the words of my father inspired me to continue the fight. He said, “In my life, I’ve done everything I could to treat all people with dignity and respect. And now, nearing the end of my life, I’m going to die being labeled as a racist.”
Gibson closes with the hope that Oberlin’s Little Hitlers will learn something from this, take stock, and abandon the evil of SJW ideology. But as Bill Jacobson says, that hope is already being proven vain:
There is no evidence that Oberlin is ready to “take stock and correct course,” as Editorial Board of the Pittburgh Post-Gazette suggested it do to avoid going the way of Antioch College. As we have written, Oberlin College is doubling and tripling down on portraying itself as the victim, blaming as it has in past incidents, the media.
Then the full weight of the judgment should be rammed right down their throats until they choke to death on it. And if being forced to pay just restitution to the innocent people whose lives they intentionally ruined closes Oberlin college for good, well, tough shit. Full stop, end of story, no tears shed, world’s smallest violin.