Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Tuesday that CNN anchor Don Lemon has been trying to suppress a clip of himself arguing that Sen. Kamala Harris is not African-American.
Carlson made the claim during an on-air takedown of Harris’ performance in the Democratic debates last week and the media’s reaction to it. He criticized the California senator for invoking her blackness to criticize frontrunner Joe Biden’s handling of racial issues.
“Oh, barf,” Carlson said after playing footage of Kamala’s much-celebrated attack on Biden. He went on to note that “many black voters appear skeptical of Kamala Harris.”
“One of them recently tweeted that Harris’ life story doesn’t bear much resemblance to that of most African Americans,” Carlson said, referring to a post last week by black right-winger Ali Alexander. “Her parents were from India and Jamaica.”
Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican.
I'm so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It's disgusting. Now using it for debate time at #DemDebate2?
These are my people not her people.
— Ali Alexander (@ali) June 28, 2019
Carlson pointed out that when Donald Trump Jr. retweeted and later deleted Alexander’s post, “CNN denounced him as a terrifying racist.” The host showed footage of a series of critics blasting Trump over the tweet to prove his point.
However, Carlson recalled, Lemon made a very similar argument to Alexander’s in February during a panel discussion on his CNN show.
“This tape has been floating around Washington, and Don Lemon apparently has been calling other anchors – even on other channels – and asking them not to replay it because he’s embarrassed of it,” Carlson said. “But we think you have a right to see it and you can decide for yourself if Don Lemon is also an anti-black racist.”
Then, he rolled the tape.
Don Lemon challenges Kamala Harris
In the clip, Lemon was seen clashing with fellow black journalist April Ryan over whether Harris had the right to proclaim her blackness. Echoing an argument that Harris herself has made, Ryan suggested that the candidate was facing the same kind of divisive rhetoric that former President Barack Obama had on the campaign trail.
“OK, that’s fine. I agree with that. But is she African-American?” Lemon asked. “No one is trying to take anything away from her. All she had to do was say: ‘I am black, but I’m not African-American.’ That’s it.”
Ryan countered that Harris could very well have African heritage since her father immigrated to the United States from Jamaica, where most residents are the descendants of slaves shipped over from that continent.
But Lemon apparently wasn’t willing to accept Harris into the tribe unless she could prove that her progenitors suffered from institutional racism inside the borders of United States.
“Jamaica’s not America. Jamaica’s not America. Jamaica’s not America,” Lemon repeated. “Jamaica did not come out of Jim Crowe. I’m just saying.”
“I was born black. I will die black”
Carlson wrapped up his monologue by saying that Lemon had demonstrated the “logic of identity politics.”
“Here’s Don Lemon telling you that Kamala Harris is not an African American,” he said. “He thinks it’s important that you know that, and yet that’s not racist because Don Lemon is a Democratic voter. That’s the logic of identity politics.”
Lemon and Alexander have not been alone in suggesting Harris doesn’t have the heritage of oppression to qualify as African-American.
A leading exponent of this view has lately been American Descendants of Slaves, which presents itself as an interest group for Americans whose African ancestors were enslaved in the United States. Under the Twitter hashtag “ADOS,” members of the movement have essentially accused Harris of appropriating their identity.
Several of their criticisms came up when she was interviewed on the “The Breakfast Club” radio show in February, which is what prompted the CNN panel discussion. The radio hosts noted that Harris’ parents are immigrants, that she spent her high-school years in Canada, and that she is married to a white man.
Harris pointed out that she was born in Oakland, California, and had spent the great majority of her life in the United States. Regarding her husband, she said that she “just happened” to fall in love with a caucasian.
However, she rejected the premise that such details are relevant to her blackness.
“I’m black, and I’m proud of being black,”she said. “I was born black. I will die black, and I’m not going to make excuses for anybody because they don’t understand.”\