In his Republican response to President Biden's address to Congress on Wednesday night, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the only Black Republican in the Senate, spoke personally about the racism he has encountered from all directions. "I have experienced the pain of discrimination," he said. "I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason. To be followed around a store while I'm shopping."
Scott said he has "also experienced a different kind of intolerance," from "liberals." "I get called 'Uncle Tom' and the N-word — by 'progressives'!" he said, throwing in some criticism of a Washington Post fact check contextualizing his "cotton to Congress" family origin story. "Believe me, I know our healing is not finished."
Less than a minute later, Scott suggested that while Black kids were once told the color of their skin made them "inferior," white kids are now told the color of their skin makes them "an oppressor." "You know this stuff is wrong," he said. "Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country."
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Scott emphasized his assertion about America and racism in a post-speech tweet, and some people weren't sure how he squared the circle.
Maybe, in Scott's theory of America, people do racist things but the country that enslaved Black people and quashed their rights for centuries has progressed to a point of post-racism (or even overly aggressive anti-racism). "Original sin is never the end of the story," he said. "Not in our souls, and not for our nation. The real story is always redemption." The story he's referring to did not end with redemption.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.