New York Times luminary Nikole Hannah-Jones, architect of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, touched off a social-media uproar Friday after drawing a distinction between being “politically black and being racially black.”
“There is a difference between being politically black and being racially black,” tweeted Ms. Hannah-Jones. “I am not defending anyone, but we all know this and should stop pretending that we don’t.”
Despite insisting that she was not defending “anyone,” Ms. Hannah-Jones made her comments shortly after former Vice President Joseph R. Biden suggested that only Democrat-voting blacks are truly black in a heated exchange with radio host Charlamagne Tha God.
“I’ll tell you, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t black,” said Mr. Biden.
Ms. Hannah-Jones deleted her tweet because “the racist trolls are here,” but also responded to critics who accused her of demeaning black voters who support conservatives, as captured in a thread on Twitchy.
“I don’t think he was saying you are not racially black, or racially black enough if you vote for Trump. I think he was speaking about politics, yes,” tweeted Ms. Hannah-Jones on her “Ida Bae Wells” account.
She added that Mr. Biden, the putative 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, was “clearly saying no black person would vote for a white nationalist with his policies,” apparently referring to Mr. Trump.
Tweet quickly deleted by Nikole Hannah-Jones: pic.twitter.com/KDgqMVAz0a— Mollie (@MZHemingway) May 22, 2020
1619 Project architect Nikole Hannah-Jones is ‘not defending’ Joe Biden when she notes the ‘difference between being politically black and being racially black’ https://t.co/T6Gy2H5mln— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) May 22, 2020
Robert Woodson, a black conservative and longtime civil-rights leader, called her explanation “weak” and “disappointing.”
“What it demonstrates is that black Democrats will tolerate any insult as long as it’s coming from the correct political source,” said Mr. Woodson, head of the Woodson Center.
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway said that the Pulitzer winner “appears to support how whites are allowed more freedom of thought than blacks.”
“If you’re white, you’re allowed to be liberal or conservative,” tweeted Ms. Hemingway. “If you’re black, you will be marginalized and demeaned unless you think the way the powers that be say that you must.”
Ms. Hannah-Jones won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary earlier this month for her essay introducing the 1619 Project, which held that the true American founding was the year that the first African slaves were shipped to the colonies.
The series has been distributed to educators in “hundreds of schools,” according to the Pulitzer Center, despite extensive criticism over its accuracy and political bias.
Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy acknowledged that “many historians, perhaps most historians, believe that the preservation of slavery was not among the primary causes of the Revolutionary War,” but that “we do not regard this as a matter of settled ‘fact.’”
Mr. Woodson launched in February the 1776 Project in reaction to the 1619 Project, bringing together “independent voices,” both black and white, to “uphold our country’s authentic founding virtues and values and challenge those who assert America is forever defined by its past failures, such as slavery.”
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