As it became resoundingly apparent that Donald Trump‘s desperate attempt to overturn the election’s results will not work, one of his loyal minions in congress decided to renew a baseless and racist birther conspiracy theory about the Vice President-elect.
The overtly racist social media posts from Iowa Rep. Steve King this weekend about Kamala Harris and “slaves” not only lent further credence to suspicions he’s a white supremacist but they also brought attention to the Republican’s glaring ignorance about some basic facts about world history.
“I’m reading that @KamalaHarris made history as first woman, first black woman, first Asian woman, etc = a boatload of intersectionality points,” King tweeted Sunday. “But Kamala, are you descended from slaves or slave owners?”
The backlash was swift, with Twitter users astutely pointing out that King’s tweet ignored the horrific transatlantic slave trade in Jamaica, where Harris’ father was born.
King subsequently tweeted that his first original post was in the context of the topic of reparations, which he falsely suggested Harris had no interest in.
Harris’ mother was born in India. She met her future husband in the 1960s while they were both graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley before Harris was born in Oakland.
For anybody even remotely aware of King and his rich history of racism, his Twitter activity this past weekend was nothing more than a misguided attempt at discrediting the election and questioning the heritage of the first Black and south Indian vice president in United States history.
To be sure, “The slave trade is said to have drawn between ten and twenty million Africans from their homeland, with approximately six hundred thousand coming to Jamaica (one of the largest importer of slaves at the time) between 1533 and 1807,” according to the National Library of Jamaica.
Donald Harris, the father of the vice president-elect, confirmed in an essay he wrote for Jamaica Global Online that his family was enslaved.
“My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town),” he wrote.
Even as Black world history is not taught in the U.S. at the level some might like, the transatlantic slave trade in the Caribbean is widely acknowledged; just not by King and his fellow racist Republicans who refuse to accept a Black woman being a literal heartbeat away from the presidency.
Harris has been the victim of racist birther attacks for years now and King’s tweet was simply a throwback to those false and hurtful claims. Photos of Harris with lying captions claiming her “family came to Jamaica from India to exploit the black African slaves we bought like cattle” began back in 2017 and persisted through Election Day, the Associated Press reported.
Newsweek came under fire in August for publishing a racist birther op-ed questioning Harris’ eligibility for the election.
There were also the debunked social media claims that Harris as a presidential candidate planned to increase taxes on homes in order to pay for reparations were removed from Facebook. Fact-checking website Politifact confirmed that was a lie.
The notion that she was not interested in exploring reparations for slavery was completely false.
“This stuff needs to be studied,” Harris said in Iowa last year. “Because America needs a history lesson, to be honest about it, and we need to study it in a way that we are having a very comprehensive and fact-based conversation about policies and the connection between those policies and harm if we’re going to have a productive conversation. It can’t just be, ‘Hey … write some checks.'”
On top of that, President-elect Joe Biden’s “Lift Every Voice” plan for Black America said his administration will explore reparations for slavery “on day one.”
King, for his part, is likely just taking out is racist frustrations on Harris while realizing his relevance on Capitol Hill is quickly coming to an end. He lost his primary election back in June and will be gone from Congress come January.
He has a history of making racist comments. At the start of this year, King defended white nationalism in another instance of his display of ignorance about history.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” he asked the New York Times in an interview published on Jan. 10.
This is America.