A white nationalist wedge

Oh fabulous, we get to have another round of birtherism.

Kamala Harris broke out from the other nine Democrats onstage during the second Democratic presidential primary debate on Thursday, calling on her personal experiences of racial injustice as a black woman.

“As the only black person on this stage, I would like to speak on the issue of race,” Harris said.

That’s when she was attacked on Twitter by a conservative provocateur for not being an “American black.” It’s a play straight out of the racist birther playbook used against Barack Obama when he ran for president a decade earlier. This time, though, those kinds of allegations don’t have to circulate for years on obscure right-wing forums before they reach a mainstream audience. On Thursday night, spammers and even one of President Trump’s sons spread the attack to millions of people within hours.

Harris, 54, was born in Oakland, California to a father from Jamaica and a mother from India. She spoke of her experience growing up black in the debate, recalling a story about neighbors who wouldn’t let their children play with Harris and her sister because of the color of their skin.

But it doesn’t count, see, because Jamaica and India are FOREIGN.

The attacks on Harris’s background started Thursday when Ali Alexander tweeted she is not an “American black.”

“She is half Indian and half Jamaican,” Alexander wrote. “I’m so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It’s disgusting. Now using it for debate time at #DemDebate2? These are my people not her people. Freaking disgusting.”

Here’s the thing, though. Racism doesn’t make that distinction. Racism doesn’t care; racism just racisms because that’s what it does. How very superficial, right? Well were we expecting racism to be profound?

Alexander’s claim was picked up by Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted it to his nearly 3.6 million followers.

“Is this true?” Trump Jr. wrote. “Wow.”

Of course he did. He’s dim like his father, and mean like his father, and down in the muck like his father.

At least one known network of bot accounts was found spreading Alexander’s original tweet, BuzzFeed reported.

Has anyone explained why it is that Twitter can permaban Meghan Murphy from Twitter but is helpless to deal with networks of bot accounts?

Shireen Mitchell, a technologist and founder of the group Stop Online Violence Against Women, said the accusation against Harris plays into a long-running debate that has been used to drive a white nationalist wedge through black communities.

“We are and have always been, for centuries in this country, having this little fight about who gets opportunities as black people and who doesn’t,” Mitchell said. “That includes colorism; that includes distinctions of where the ship actually landed; it includes if you are (and I am) a descendant of a slave who was born here versus a descendant of slavery from another country. Those distinctions, from my perspective, make no sense ever. But what it does is allow for white nationalist and nativist conversations to be planted in my community.”

I don’t think the kids in Harris’s neighborhood growing up interrogated her about where her parents were born.

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