Senator Mitch McConnell found himself at the center of a racism controversy following a January 19, 2022 press conference at the US Senate.
McConnell was speaking to reporters after killing the Democrats voting rights bill and managing to avoid a change to the filibuster when he accidentally hinted that African-Americans weren’t American. It might not have been exactly what he meant, but his poor choice of words quickly went viral online.
The Senate Minority Leader is currently under pressure from within his own party after his reported distancing from Donald Trump. The Senator voted to certify Biden’s win, infuriating Trump and his allies.
He’s also reportedly kept his distance from President Joe Biden, who once claimed McConnell was a “trusted partner“. While it may seem like he has few allies, the Kentucky Senator still has a strong grip on the party, while managing to avoid controversy like some of his colleagues.
However, he quickly became the subject of widespread debate after speaking to reporters about the historic votes in the Senate. McConnell, along with the rest of the GOP voted against the Democrats voting rights package, and then hours later voted against reforming the filibuster.
They were helped by Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, who crossed the aisle to vote with the GOP, perhaps the day’s biggest story till McConnell’s slip.
McConnell hints Black people aren’t Americans
During his conference, McConnell was asked about the concerns people of color would have now that voting reform is no longer possible. In response, he said, “The concern is misplaced. Because if you look at the statistics, African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.” Here’s a video of the statement:
Wow. Just wow.— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) January 20, 2022
Mitch McConnell: “The concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as American voters.” pic.twitter.com/ReOvHGJcnI
Without noticing his gaffe, he continued, “Turnout is up… this has been a Democratic party goal for decades.” McConnell likely meant White Americans or other Americans instead of just “Americans”, but the fact he chose to phrase his statement that way was enough to cause a massive storm, especially since it came just after the Republicans blocked voter reform.
‘You’re not supposed to actually say it’
The video inspired responses like, “Saying the @GOP quiet part out loud: “African Americans are not Americans.”, “Doesn’t get much worse than that, @LeaderMcConnell”, and “Is that an exact quote? If it is, holy f–k the masks are off.” One user tweeted, “Apparently, @LeaderMcConnell does not think African Americans voters are included in “American voters?” @GOP is getting more racist every day.”
Is that an exact quote?— BakerPlantLady (@BakerPlantLady) January 20, 2022
If it is, holy fuck the masks are off.
“So African-Americans are NOT Americans according to the LEADER of the republicans in the senate, Well I have to say that this tracks with their behaviour, but you’re not supposed to actually say it…,” one user mocked.
Another angry user tweeted, “African Americans ARE Americans, you fricking racist moron. You Republicans have shown your true colors. Time to vote you jacka—s out.” One person joked, “I think this counts as progress for him. He didn’t say “regular or normal” Americans.”
So African-Americans are NOT Americans according to the LEADER of the republicans in the senate,— Jimmy (@Jimmyrexalexand) January 20, 2022
Well I have to say that this tracks with their behaviour, but you’re not supposed to actually say it…
I think this counts as progress for him. He didn’t say “regular or normal” Americans.— The Plant Snob (@entireleaves) January 20, 2022