Barbara Lee, Nikki Haley

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Calls Out Nikki Haley For Saying America ‘Has Never Been A Racist Country’

Lee called Haley's opinions 'clueless' and 'dangerous.'

California Democratic representative Barbara Lee slammed presidential candidate Nikki Haley for her shocking comments about racism in America. During an interview with CNN on Jan. 19, Lee unpacked Haley’s statement that America is not racist–and “has never been.”

During a Jan. 16 interview with Fox News, Haley was asked to respond to an MSNBC host’s comments about the Republican Party.

Fox News host Brian Kilmeade asked Haley if she was “involved in a racist party.”

Haley answered, “We’re not a racist country, Brian. We’ve never been a racist country.”

“Our goal is to make sure that today is better than yesterday. Are we perfect? No. But our goal is to always make sure we try and be more perfect every day that we can. I know I faced racism when I was growing up. But I can tell you, today is a lot better than it was then. Our goal is to lift up everybody. Not go and divide people on race or gender or party or anything else. We’ve had enough of that in America.”

Congresswoman Lee took offense at Haley’s remarks.

Lee began, “Racism, institutional racism, is in the DNA of this country. When you look at what has taken place, look at our Native Americans, the genocide of Native Americans. When you look at what has taken place as it relates to African Americans, 250 years plus of enslaving African Americans, and then you look at the disparities now in our community in terms of healthcare, unemployment, the wealth gap, housing. You can’t tell me that systemic racism does not exist. It’s not just a little kink.”

She continued to recall a racist incident that she experienced while working in Congress. She explained that a white male stopped her when she was attempting to get onto a “members only” elevator before voting. He accused her of stealing her Congressional designation pin. 

“He blocked me from getting into the elevator and told me I was not a member of Congress and it was for members only,” Lee told the outlet. “I said, ‘Sir, I’m a member of Congress.’ And I showed him my pin, and he said, ‘Whose pin did you steal?’ This is an example of what personal racism is and how people of color constantly have to deal with this each and every day.”

Lee also referenced other comments that Haley made at a New Hampshire town hall three weeks ago. The former UN ambassador said that America was no longer a racist country. When talking about the cause of the Civil War, she neglected to talk about slavery.

When pressed on the issue of slavery, Haley said, “What do you want me to say about slavery? [It was about] the freedoms of what people could and couldn’t do.”

Lee, who is currently running for a seat in the Senate, called Haley’s words “very dangerous [and] clueless.”

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