A white North Carolina Democratic candidate brushed aside questions earlier this week about ensuring diversity in his state by saying he is a member of the black community.
House of Representatives candidate Gary Shipman said he doesn’t need to worry about diversity because he has already experienced it as a member of the African-American community, reported The News & Observer Wednesday.
“I’m a member of the African-American community,” Shipman said. “I’ve been where you are. I’ve been in your communities.”
Shipman made the comments at an outreach event after he and other candidates were asked by “Suit Up Wilmington Outreach” leaders how they intend to get black people excited by their campaign and how they will raise diversity.
When one female candidate offered to go to African American events in the community, Shipman said he didn’t need an invitation because black people already viewed him as one of them.
Shipman later tried to explain his comments after an inquiry from the News & Observer, saying he doesn’t really believe he is black but that he was just trying to illustrate how embedded he is in the community.
“I’ve eaten at many a fish fry held by my ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’ ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’ in that community; I’ve celebrated birthdays, births, marriages, graduations, Christmas, Thanksgiving, July 4, etc., with many members of the African-American community,” Shipman wrote in an email to The News & Observer.
Shipman previously decided to enter the race to challenge current Republican Rep. Holly Grange because he believed that “it is indeed time for our priorities to shift back towards the things that our state and region have historically stood for and represented.”
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