A day after overseeing Republican obstruction of voting rights legislation in the Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell made a racially disparaging comment about Black voters, setting off a torrent of backlash online.
In a press conference held on Wednesday (January 20th), the Senate Minority Leader spoke at a press conference regarding the previous day’s debate and failed votes to advance a bill that contained the Freedom To Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act which included an attempt to change the filibuster rules to do so. A question was posed by a reporter honing in on concerns from Black voters and other voters of color about this obstruction to Senator McConnell. “Well, the concern is misplaced because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans,” the senior Senator from Kentucky said. “A recent survey, 94% of Americans thought it was easy to vote. This is not a problem.” The implication in those words set off a firestorm online, with the Congressional Black Caucus sharing the clip of his comments with the caption: “It’s definitely giving #MitchPlease. African Americans are ARE Americans, 365 days a year!”
A spokesperson for McConnell claimed that the Senator meant to say “other Americans” and not just “Americans” in a statement to the press on Thursday. But many weren’t buying it, given McConnell’s past history of disparaging comments towards Black people. Virginia Representative Donald McEachin posted a letter to the Senate Minority Leader through his Twitter account, condemning his comments saying in part: “This is 2022, and being American is not synonymous with looking or thinking like you. African Americans are, in fact, American citizens deserving of our recognition, respect, and equal protections under the law.”
Presently, Senator McConnell has made no further comment about his remarks. We’re not holding our breath.