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Shaun King ‘Outing’ a Distraction

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by Autumn A. Arnett


“Black Lives Matter” activist Shaun King

“Black Lives Matter” activist Shaun King

When the race of “Black Lives Matter” activist, Morehouse Man and Morehouse Oprah (Winfrey) Scholar Shaun King came into question earlier this week, many were quick to dub him “the second coming of Rachel Dolezal.”

But many, particularly his Morehouse brothers, decried the claims as “a distraction,” irrelevant and incomparable to the Rachel Dolezal saga.

For starters, said Darren Martin, a 2015 graduate of Morehouse College, King “doesn’t identify as ‘transracial,’ he identifies as ‘biracial.’”

King took to Twitter to respond to the allegations himself, saying: “If you have known me from when I was in elementary school at Huntertown Elementary until now, you’ve known me as black or bi-racial. I did not concoct a lie about my race to get into @Morehouse. I did not concoct a lie about my race to get an @Oprah scholarship. Every single person who knows me BEYOND Twitter, beyond trending topics and HIT PIECES, knows I have never lied about my race. Out of LOVE for my family, I’ve never gone public with my racial story because it’s hurtful, scandalous, and it’s MY STORY.”

But many of King’s Morehouse brothers ― and others ― say the claims are not only irrelevant, they don’t matter.

“Nobody cared about [Shaun Kings] race or anything else until he started calling out police brutality … miss me with that,” said former South Carolina state legislator and 2005 Morehouse graduate Bakari Sellers on Twitter.

“I’ll speak for myself. When I sat in NSO (New Student Orientation) at Morehouse in 2001, this guy stepped on stage at King Chapel and time stopped for a second. Although I was enrolled already, his ensuing speech sold me on Morehouse. Made me realize the company I was in and the institution that would become my home. That guy’s name is Shaun King. I’ll simply say that he’s my Morehouse brother… And that’s all there is to it,” said Sellers’ Morehouse classmate, Kyle Yeldell, via Facebook.

“He’s been in the gutter fighting civil rights issues first hand and has a long list advocacy for our community,” said Martin. “In that right, if he wants to interrogate and challenge his race and feels dispositioned in his racial identity–let him do just that. However, I have a family full of light-skinned individuals who could easily pass for white, but identify and are truly a part of the Black community.”

“The conversation that really sparks from this ‘outing’ or debate really is damaging to our community. It’s indeed a ploy to further separate and agitate a movement,” Martin added. “And it comes at a time where Black Lives Matter is already under fire and fighting internally. People who know how to control the masses know how to wield media and use it as a distraction. What do we get out of spending time and effort trying to prove if Shaun is White, versus using the same time and space to strategize policy that would advance the community?”

“Part of White supremacy is that White people get to define who is Black. It’s a form of power,” said The New Republic senior editor Jeet Heer via Twitter.

King said he will not allow the hurtful allegations and “outing” distract him from the work that needs to be done.

“In closing, I’m not going to stop doing what I do, being who I am, or fighting the fights that I fight to end police brutality,” King concluded on Twitter.

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