A white Democratic state House candidate used the n-word in a more than decade-old blog post — saying no one should be banned from using the slur — and that Black men were more likely to commit violence.
Caroline Holko, who is running against a Republican incumbent in the November election, said she regrets the content of the blog posted on LiveJournal.
Holko is challenging state Rep. John Carson, a Marietta Republican, in the House District 46 race. She won her primary race with nearly 55% of the votes cast.
“We all say and do stupid things,” Holko, 46, said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And then we grow up, we learn more about the world and we know better and we do better. I can’t change the past. I can say that a blog post from 2009 is absolutely not representative of the person that I am right now.”
In the blog post titled “Calling a spade a spade,” which is no longer viewable online, Holko is responding to public discussions of white privilege — the concept that white people have advantages in society because of their race.
“We all struggle in this world. Get over it,” she wrote in 2009, adding that she grew up in largely Black, low-income areas of New Orleans and had been mugged by Black men multiple times. “I can’t control anything in the world except my own actions — and I choose to judge individuals on their own merit — but the fact still remains that I have never been mugged by a white person.”
Holko, a community activist and stay-at-home mother who moved to Georgia in 2004, also wrote that people have a right to speak their minds.
“I do not agree that (n-word) should be banned from collective speech — I don’t hold with censorship of ANY kind, and if that means I have to occasionally listen to some (expletive) use mean words, so be it," she wrote.
In a statement, Carson said he hoped Republicans and Democrats would condemn Holko’s 2009 statements.
“Mrs. Holko’s own words have given us insight into her bigoted beliefs,” Carson said. "She has proven she is unfit to serve our diverse community in the state House.”
First elected in 2010, Carson defeated his Democratic challenger in 2018 with nearly 62% of the vote.
Holko, who ran unsuccessfully for the Cobb County Commission in 2018, said she disagrees with everything she wrote 11 years ago.
“In the time between then and now, there’s absolutely no way on earth that I would still be denying that I have privilege or that my kids have privilege,” she said. “I still don’t think it’s my place to censor other people’s speech. I do sincerely wish no one would use hateful language to another human being. I don’t use that word, I don’t let my children use it and I don’t let anyone who’s around me us it.”
Since then, Holko has been active in the Democratic Party and visited the Capitol last year to protest against the passage of anti-abortion legislation.
State Rep. Erick Allen, a Smyrna Democrat who is Black, said he believes that more elected officials should acknowledge problematic comments made in the past and grow from them.
“Although what was said in 2009 is disturbing, I’ve worked with Caroline the last couple of years in the Cobb Democratic Party and I know that is not reflective of the person who she is today," he said. “I think voters have a choice between someone who has evolved in their thinking around race and race relations, as opposed to someone who, even this year, vehemently opposed and voted against the hate-crimes bill.”
The Georgia Legislature approved House Bill 426 this year, which increases the penalty for people who are convicted of committing a crime against someone based on their race or other biases. Carson was one of 38 House members to vote against the legislation.
Holko said the fact that the comments called into question were made in 2009 was evidence of her evolution on the topics.
“If they went through the effort of finding an old post on an abandoned platform, and they had to go back 11 years to find something that meets the criteria of being unacceptable, I guess I’m doing pretty well,” she said.
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