Black Republicans who don't believe racism is systemic subject to vicious attacks, slurs

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Audrey Conklin
·7 min read
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Some liberal pundits have labeled Black Republicans as racists solely based on the political party they represent.

The most recent example came Thursday when late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel mocked Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., saying the senator, who recently made headlines for his response to President Biden's address before Congress, "let the American people know the Republican Party isn't racist."

Scott said in his Wednesday night rebuttal to the president that America is "not a racist country," sparking backlash from some Democrats on social media.

However, prominent Democrats including Biden himself, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., agree with Scott, arguing that while the nation itself is not racist, it can improve its institutions and attitudes.

Kimmel mocked the South Carolina senator on his late night TV show.

"Every Black Republican senator got together to let the American people know the Republican Party isn’t racist," Kimmel said, "and then Tim promptly returned to the sensory deprivation egg he calls home."

While Kimmel criticized Republicans for the party's low Black representation in the Senate, there are only two Black Democratic Senators: Cory Booker of New Jersey and Raphael Warnock of Georgia. There have been only 11 Black Senators in U.S. history, among them Harris of California and former President Barack Obama of Illinois.

Kimmel, who has previously apologized for donning blackface to mock NBA star Karl Malone, received some criticism from right-leaning social media users following his show, but his comments were not unique.

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"Uncle Tim" trended on Twitter after Scott's speech Wednesday, a play on the "Uncle Tom" slur for Black people viewed as overly deferential to White people.

The term isn't new to Scott. The Vermont newspaper, Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus, published a cartoon by Jeff Danziger last August titled "Uncle Tim's Cabin," portraying Scott sitting outside a cabin with a Trump sign planted in his yard.

The slur has also been used against other prominent Black Republicans.

MSNBC's Joy Reid, who is Black, referred to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as "Uncle Clarence" while discussing the 2020 presidential election.

"The View" co-host Sunny Hostin, who is Black, said she was disappointed to see Scott "used" on Wednesday, and her co-host Joy Behar, who is White, said Scott didn't "understand" the difference between a racist country and systemic racism.

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"Yes, maybe it’s not a racist country. Maybe Americans, the majority, are not racist. But we live in a country with systemic racism," Behar said on the show. "The fact that Tim Scott cannot acknowledge this is appalling. How can you go out there and say that when you just said two minutes ago that you were the object and the victim of discrimination?"

During his rebuttal speech, Scott discussed his many experiences with discrimination and specifically mentioned the names he has been called by liberals, including "Uncle Tom" and the "N-word."

Behar took heat from former GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik on "The View" in September when hosts engaged Klacik, a Baltimore native, in a heated discussion about former President Donald Trump's admission to veteran journalist Bob Woodward of wanting to "downplay" the severity of COVID-19 early on and whether it "cost lives."

"First of all, I think that we didn't handle the pandemic as a country great as a whole," Klacik said. "This is why I talk about bringing the biotech industry right back to the Baltimore city port. We've allowed a lot of jobs and manufacturing to go overseas thanks to NAFTA in the Bill Clinton administration and that's why [Trump's] pulling it back."

Behar wasn't satisfied with her response.

"Excuse me, I have to say something to you," the co-host said. "He told Bob Woodward that it was a very serious issue and it's airborne and that it was terrible. And then he went out and told the American people, 'Don't wear masks, it's all going to go away.' You have to put some blame on your president. I'm sorry, you're putting it on something extraneous here. Talk to the point, please."

Klacik responded: "Is this the same Joy that paraded in blackface not too long ago? C'mon, Joy, I don't think you should be asking these questions."

"That's not true," Behar said. "Excuse me, excuse me! The Black community had my back. They know that that was not blackface, that was a homage."

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Nearly a year earlier, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron -- the first Black Republican elected statewide -- was blasted by the Kentucky Herald Leader during his race in 2019.

"This is what the @HeraldLeader — a "tolerant," left-leaning newspaper — thinks about black folks who dare to be Republican. You’re a racist following the KKK unless you hate @realDonaldTrump," he tweeted in response to a comic by illustrator Joel Pett published in the newspaper depicting Trump as a KKK member and Cameron holding his robe.

"Let’s make history on [Nov. 5] and show we don’t take orders from the elites anymore," he added.

Courier-Journal columnist and Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Joseph Gerth echoed that same narrative in a Friday op-ed targeting Cameron.

"Good news for all the racists out there who claim they’re not racists and for those who claim the system hasn’t been set up to benefit white people. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has their backs," he wrote.

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Gerth noted that Cameron "says there is no such thing as systemic racism in America," adding: "I'm not sure what America he lives in or what kind of Pollyanna world he resides, but Cameron’s reality clearly doesn’t reflect what those who open their eyes to the truth see."

In another recent example, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson told The Washington Examiner that local news outlet WRAL crossed a line when it published a February cartoon by cartoonist Dennis Draughon depicting Republican members of the North Carolina State Board of Education on which Robinson serves as KKK members.

"This depiction of me and other Republican board members was done by a news outlet here in North Carolina that says it prides itself [on] delivering fair, balanced news and providing a service to the people, where they're trying to get information that's valuable to their readers in understanding policy issues that are important to them," Robinson told the Examiner.

He continued: "In other words, WRAL has said that they stand against bigotry, that they stand against racism, that they stand against inaccuracies. Then, they post a cartoon that is not only bigoted but also historically inaccurate."

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Robinson said he would have left the image "alone" had it "been done by some private individual on Facebook" or Instagram, but the public nature of the cartoon published by a major news outlet, he is "holding WRAL to their standards."

Seth Effron, opinion editor for Capitol Broadcasting Company, issued a statement saying cartoons are meant to be "creative and provocative, u sing hyperbole and satire."

"The editorial cartoon by Dennis Draughon is meant to point out that these members of the State Board are trying to wipe out from the social studies curriculum the record of racism which includes the Klan and the segregationist practices that were imposed in our state and nation’s history," Effron said.

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Robinson told the Examiner that portraying members of the GOP, "which is the party that is responsible for ending slavery and for ending Jim Crow," as the KKK "is blatantly, historically inaccurate."

"The Republican Party ... was formed partly to stand up against the evils of slavery," he said. "To depict us, GOP members of the state school board, as racist because we are diametrically opposed to these standards, it is historically inaccurate. What's more, it's just wrong. It's wrong in every way that you can think of."

Fox News' David Rutz and Joseph Wulfson contributed to this report.