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The birthers are back -- this time for Kamala Harris

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Here we go again. Birtherism is back.

Just as the original birthers rose up in 2008 to raise what turned out to be bogus questions about Barack Obama's birth certificate, new birthers appeared online after presidential candidate Kamala Harris' impressive Democratic debate performance Thursday to question whether she's really black.

Joining them, at least briefly, was Donald Trump Jr.

The president's eldest son retweeted, then deleted, a black right-wing activist's tweet during the Democratic debate that falsely claimed Sen. Harris was not black enough to be discussing the plight of black Americans.

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"Kamala Harris is implying she is descended from American Black Slaves," said the tweet posted by Ali Alexander, a rising figure in a hive of right-wing media personalities. "She's not. She comes from Jamaican Slave Owners. That's fine. She's not an American Black. Period."

 

President Trump's former campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson also chimed in, claiming Harris was not African enough to run as a minority presidential candidate. "While Obama is actually African American -- Harris is not," she tweeted, even though people of African descent have predominated Jamaica for centuries. "Who is best to speak for the AA (African American) Community?"

Who, I wonder, appointed Pierson and Alexander -- who also has gone by the names Ali Akbar and Ali Abdul Razaq Akbar, according to various reports -- to be chief of the race police? Harris, a first-term senator and former prosecutor from California who was born in Oakland, is the biracial daughter of a Jamaican father and a Tamil Indian mother. Except for her high school years in Montreal, she has been a Californian.

But the resurrection of the "Who's black enough?" or "Who's too black?" question for the first time since Obama's election tells us less about the candidates than it does about the rest of us Americans. We're a diverse mulligan stew of a society that still is coming to grips with our turbulent racial history and new questions -- and anxieties for some -- about our national identity.

We've seen similarly groundless origin questions raised about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican born in Canada; Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat born in American Samoa; and even the late Sen. John McCain, born in the Panama Canal Zone, as soon as each of them ran for president.

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(c) 2019 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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