A series of videos making the rounds on conservative websites shows a black Tea Party protester engaging pro-union protesters at the Colorado Statehouse Tuesday, and at least one such exchange was unmistakably racist. Complicating matters, though, is the fact that the initial report the report failed to ascertain pertinent details, greatly undercutting the news value of the footage. We filled in some of the blanks, with a little help from the site that originally posted the videos. (h/t The Blaze)
What is evident is that at least two of the people at the protest (and to a lesser extent, a third) made remarks to a black Tea Partier that ranged from racially tone-deaf (“get behind that fence where you belong“) to out-and-out reprehensible (“Do you have any children…that you claim?”): (video from RedWhiteBlueNews)
So just who are the racists again?
I say odd for several reasons. First of all, racism is not a football, that only one team can possess at a time. What’s odder, though, is that GP and The Blaze are rightly outraged at the treatment received by this Tea Partier, yet never think to ask what the guy’s effing name is. I’m not saying that simply identifying him as “black guy” is racist, just that it undercuts the outrage significantly, revealing it for the tit-for-tat that it obviously is.
They also make the unsubstantiated leap that the woman who asked him if he has any kids is an “SEIU protester” (The Blaze appends “alleged” to the phrase).
I contacted the proprietor of RedWhiteBlueNews.com (who asked that his real name not be used), and he informed me that he’s working on posting more video. He is a retired police officer, not a professional journalist, and he’s working to get a lot of content posted in a short time. Although not in his original report, he did make a commendable effort to get pertinent details.
He told me that the woman in red who asked if the man had any kids was actually not a protester, but rather, a random buttinski who just happened to be in the capitol that day.
That doesn’t make what she said any less reprehensible (nor does it mitigate the self-identified teacher who called the Tea Partier “son” and threatened to stick his sign in an undisclosed location), but it is a fact, and facts are important. (For the record, she later explained her comment to RWBN by saying that “the black conservative was such a “free spirit” that she assumed he would possibly not own up to the responsibility of being a father.” No sale here, but take it for what it’s worth.)
RWBN also put me in touch with the Tea Partier in question, Leland Robinson. The Denver video has turned Leland into something of a celebrity, as he told me his phone has been ringing off the hook all morning.
Robinson, as it turns out, is a 52 year-old entrepreneur, interior designer, and limousine driver who was attending his first Tea Party protest. As he reveals in one of the videos from the protest, he’s also gay, and while he supports legalizing gay marriage, believes that “we can get everything we want from gay marriage, without gay marriage.”
He also said that he takes comments like those he heard at the Denver protest would have bothered him as a younger man, but now he takes them “as a compliment. They’re holding me in high esteem in their minds.”
I also asked Robinson why he thinks it is that so few black people are members of the Tea Party, as compared to the rest of the population. He replied, “Because between our education system, and our churches, they’re being run by a few people…how do I put this…Everyone wants to belong. Hispanics are suffering the same problem. You’re born Hispanic, that means you’re born liberal. If you’re born into a Catholic family, that makes you Catholic. You can’t think for yourself, and you can’t be a Christian, you can’t be a Jew, you can’t be anything else, because you were born that way.”
“As far as black people are concerned,” he continued, ” we are being denied the truth. Martin Luther King was a Republican. How many black people know that?”
Leland recommends that people challenge leaders in their communities, and think for themselves. He also says that being within such a small group of black conservatives makes him even more sure that he’s right. “You can’t get 98% of black people to believe in anything.”
As is often the case, there’s much more to this story than meets the eye, but one thing that everyone should be able to agree on is that Leland Robinson didn’t deserve to be treated the way he was.
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