Friday, August 21, 2015

Shaun King and the White Savior Syndrome

Breitbart reported that:
An investigative blogger has accused Shaun King, a key figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, of misleading media icon Oprah Winfrey by pretending to be biracial in order to qualify for an “Oprah scholarship” to historically black Morehouse College. The blogger says King is white and has been lying about his ethnicity for years.

King is a high-profile campaigner against “police brutality” and “justice correspondent” for the liberal Daily Kos website who told Rebel magazine in 2012 that he was biracial, with the magazine reporting that he is the “son of a Caucasian mother and an African-American father.” He has also described himself as “mixed with a black family” on Twitter.

King has been lionised by the press, praised as hero of civil rights and social activism. He has written extensively about a childhood in which he was terrorised by “decades old racial tensions.” He claims to have been “the focus of constant abuse of the resident rednecks of my school.”

Yet, in recent weeks, rumours have been circulating about his ethnicity. A 1995 police incident report lists Shaun King’s ethnicity as white. And blogger Vicki Pate, who has been assembling forensic accounts of Shaun King’s background and family tree on her blog, “Re-NewsIt!,” has published her findings.

She claims that King is entirely white and says a birth certificate, which Breitbart has since independently acquired from the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics, names a white man as his father.

King’s case echoes that of Rachel Dolezal, a civil rights activist from Washington who claimed to be biracial while in fact being of caucasian origin. Dolezal continues to insist she “identifies as black,” despite her parents revealing that she is entirely white.

If Pate is right, Shaun King, who often uses black and white photographs of himself online rather than colour images, may have misled African-American hero Winfrey by applying for and accepting an Oprah Scholarship to the historically black Morehouse College. Oprah Scholarships are given exclusively to black men.
In response to this controversy, Shaun King wrote, in part:
The reports about my race, about my past, and about the pain I’ve endured are all lies. My mother is a senior citizen. I refuse to speak in detail about the nature of my mother’s past, or her sexual partners, and I am gravely embarrassed to even be saying this now, but I have been told for most of my life that the white man on my birth certificate is not my biological father and that my actual biological father is a light-skinned black man. My mother and I have discussed her affair. She was a young woman in a bad relationship and I have no judgment. This has been my lived reality for nearly 30 of my 35 years on earth. I am not ashamed of it, or of who I am—never that—but I was advised by my pastor nearly 20 years ago that this was not a mess of my doing and it was not my responsibility to fix it. All of my siblings and I have different parents. I'm actually not even sure how many siblings I have.
I do not know if Shaun King is black or white. Since Breitfart is an unreliable, biased source with a right wing agenda, I will reserve judgment until all of the facts have been revealed.

Throughout American history, progressive whites have been involved in various social justice movements. They participated in the Abolitionist Movement and the Civil Rights Movement. Many of them dedicated their lives to the fight for equal rights and justice. People like John Brown,Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and many others were martyrs for the struggle. That history must be acknowledged, appreciated and respected. Obviously, one does not have to be black to be involved in the African American struggle for justice.

For that reason, it is completely baffling that some people like Rachel Dolezal, and possibly Shaun King, feel compelled to virtually masquerade around in black face. People who engage in such deception are not worthy of leading any organization, especially not a black organization. When one lies about basic things such as their identity, how can anyone believe a word that comes from their mouth? Those people should not be spokespersons for the movement. They completely undermine the credibility of the organizations that they claim to represent. When they speak on important issues such as police brutality, racial profiling and mass incarceration, people will question the veracity of their statements. The movement cannot afford that.

Although I do not object to white involvement in the movement, I do have a problem with white "saviors" infiltrating, leading, dominating and controlling the movement. We cannot possibly be so desperate. We should not allow any and everyone to lead us.  Black organizations should be led and controlled by black people. We must shape our own destiny as a people. Whites and others can support us without joining and leading our organizations.

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