Behind in the polls, GOP Senator David Perdue held a closing rally in his bid for the nomination in the Georgia Governor’s race last night. He was still lambasting Governor Brian Kemp, which was to be expected, and the rally featured an on-screen appearance by Donald Trump. But when I was reviewing the coverage of the rally this morning, a headline at Business Insider caught my eye. It claimed that Perdue had capped off his campaign “with a racist remark against Stacey Abrams” during a rally earlier in the day. That seemed like an odd choice to make on the eve of the election, right? I was immediately curious to see what he had done. Was he crazy enough to toss out the n-word on television? Well… no. It was nothing like that. Let’s take a look at what he actually said.
Former US Senator David Perdue closed his campaign for governor of Georgia Monday with a racist jab at Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams and a tele-rally with Former President Donald Trump…
“When she told Black farmers, ‘You don’t need to be on the farm,’ and she told Black workers in hospitality and all this, ‘You don’t need to be’ — she is demeaning her own race when it comes to that,” he told attendees at a campaign stop in Dunwoody, Georgia, about Abrams, who is a Black woman. “I am really over this. She should never be considered for material for governor of any state, much less our state — where she hates to live.”
“She said that Georgia is the worst place in the country to live,” he also said during that rally. “Hey, she ain’t from here. Let her go back where she came from if she doesn’t like it here.”
CNN has a segment where they play the clip of Perdue making those comments and the panel then goes on to talk about how horribly racist it all is. You really only need to watch the first few minutes of this, so judge for yourself.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m really not sure what Perdue was talking about there, but making the jump from what he actually said to charges of racism is quite a leap.
CNN seemed to be focusing on two different remarks. The first came when Perdue said “she ain’t from here. Let her go back where she came from…” We’ve heard this comment directed at people in the past who immigrated to the United States from elsewhere. The implication seemed to be that ‘if you weren’t born here, you’re not welcome, so go back to your own country.’ If that’s how you view it, then you’re free to consider it as being racist or at least some sort of “ist.”
But Stacey Abrams was born in Minnesota and raised in Mississippi until her family moved to Atlanta, where she attended high school. Telling someone that they should “go back to” Mississippi after they described Georgia as “the worst state” to live in is not racist. At worst it’s some overly enthusiastic state pride being shown.
So was it the other half of the remarks that has everyone up in arms? “When she told Black farmers you don’t need to be on the farm” seems like an odd thing for Perdue to bring up, but it was also an odd thing for Abrams to say originally. The same goes for the remark about hospitality workers. CNN is claiming that Abrams was just trying to say there should be more and better jobs for Black Georgians than farming and hospitality work. But Black people already work in pretty much every industry you can name. And many farmers are proud to work the fields and produce the nation’s food. Why is it demeaning for Black voters to be farmers? If anyone was being a racist, it sounds to me like it was Abrams.
Sadly, that headline is all that most people will bother to read. And they will go to the polls today thinking that Perdue is some typical white racist saying typical racist things about a Black woman. Of course, as I wrote earlier this morning, I highly doubt that Perdue has much of a chance of becoming the nominee in the Governor’s race anyway, but I suppose the media couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take one last parting shot at him.