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Tim Scott Tells Black Church: Focus Less On Race

Presidential Candidates Speak At The Florida Freedom Summit

Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) speaks during the Florida Freedom Summit at the Gaylord Palms Resort on November 4, 2023, in Kissimmee, Florida. | Source: Joe Raedle / Getty

Back in September, we reported that polls were suggesting white Republican voters appreciate South Carolina senator and presidential hopeful Tim Scott because he’s a Black person who downplays racism in America and outright denies the existence of systemic racism. It seems as though Scott has understood his assignment for as long as he’s held public office, but especially since he became the only Black Republican presidential candidate. In fact, it’s almost as if his entire platform as a candidate has been centered around one thing: preaching to white people about how Black people are lying about racism.

Only, he isn’t really putting it on Black people. Like many in the GOP, he’s careful and crafty enough not to do too much in the way of being directly condescending to Black people. Instead, he’s making race relations in America out to be a purely political issue by laying it at the feet of Democrats and “the left.”

MORE: Polls Suggest White People Like Tim Scott Because He Downplays Racism

“There is a radical movement on the far left, and the more progress that America makes on race, the more some leaders want to deny it,” Scott recently told the congregants during an unscheduled stop at New Beginnings Church, a Black church in Chicago, according to ABC News. “Our country has made, however, tremendous strides since then on the issue of race — but lawlessness and fatherlessness and joblessness have gotten worse in the last 60 years and not better.”

From ABC:

His more than an hourlong speech at New Beginnings Church also called out Democratic leadership in Chicago for, in his view, failing the Black community. Many of those elected officials are Black.

“If everything can be based and blamed on systemic racism, the problems can’t be the liberals’ fault,” Scott told the audience. “They want us to sit down, shut up and don’t forget to vote as long as we’re voting blue. Instead of solutions, we are offered distractions and division.”

Scott’s narrative mostly fell flat on his audience, reportedly, and there’s a good reason for that: He was lying to the wrong people.

Normally, Scott’s audience is as white as his constituency, so he can give him the same old out-of-touch nonsense about the discussion and focus on racism in America beginning with Democrats and “liberals.” He knows white Republicans really can’t think outside of the red vs. blue, right vs. left political paradigm. But Black people know where the discussion on racism actually began. It began with Black people.

Our living rooms, our dinner tables, our cookouts, our barbershops and beauty salons, our academics, our protests, our communities, our churches—these are where systemic racism was discussed first. We’re the ones who did the work and forced these discussions to become national discussions. It wasn’t that long ago when no Democrat holding office would even utter the words “systemic racism” either because it would threaten them politically or because they were simply as obtuse about race as Republicans like Scott are. They didn’t talk about police brutality, and the very notion of reparations was as laughable to them as it was and still is to their Republican counterparts. Democrats, along with non-Black members of the ubiquitous “left,” hopped on the “systemic racism” train only after it became a mainstream concept—decades (if not centuries) after it had been established as a key issue for Black America. It’s much like the way white conservatives and liberals alike have adopted, appropriated and changed the definition of the word “woke” after Black people had been saying “stay woke” for literal generations.

Scott would know this if he were actually part of the Black collective instead of the GOP’s Sambo sockpuppet who thinks welfare has been harder “to survive” for Black people than slavery, and that, while racism isn’t that serious, Republicans are being treated as “second class citizens.”

“What Tim Scott and those of his ilk are doing, they’re trying to play on these emotional push pins that most African Americans don’t see. It’s not landing for them,” Nadia Brown, a political scientist and professor at Georgetown University, told ABC. “I think that is a call out to other conservatives, particularly white conservatives, who want to say, ‘I have a Black senator,’ or, ‘I feel comfortable voting for a Black candidate.’”

Again, that’s Scott’s issue. He must have thought his “America isn’t racist” shtick was a one-size-fits-all narrative that would work as well at a Black church as it would at a MAGA rally. He found out differently. (To be fair, it probably didn’t go quite as bad as when he was tap-dancing for white America on The View.)

More from ABC:

Afterward, attendees were eager to pepper Scott, who rarely addresses Black audiences on the campaign trail, with tough questions. Many of the exchanges were tense.

Attorney Rodrick Wimberly said he came to the church with his wife, Evelyn, “out of respect” for what Scott has accomplished. When it was his turn to speak with the South Carolina senator, Wimberly challenged Scott.

“I’ve seen both in the debate and also in statements you’ve made where you indicated that you don’t feel that there’s systematic racism,” he said. “There is statistical data to show, or suggest at the very least, that there is some issue where it’s systemic.”

Scott told him, “I’m saying that there is racism, but it’s not the system.”

The pair went back and forth on education, redlining — referring to discrimination in financial loans — and inequities in wealth before Scott was ushered away by his staff.

Yeah, Scott’s people definitely needed to get him out of there before too much critical thinking happened. Maybe they’ll advise him to stick to white conservative audiences since those are clearly the people who make up his community.


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