Less than an hour after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) challenged Joe Biden’s record on race during part two of the first Democratic debate last night, hundreds of “suspect” Twitter accounts began to claim that the presidential candidate is not Black and questioned her US citizenship.
Donald Trump Jr. bolstered the racist campaign by retweeting a post questioning the California Democrat’s ability to address issues of importance to black Americans because she is the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant.
The president’s eldest son, in a tweet he’s since deleted, shared a tweet that read: “Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican. 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.”
The Washington Post noted that the Twitter account retweeted by Trump Jr. is suspected of being a bot account targeting black voters.
Donald Trump Jr. publicly questioned whether Kamala Harris is black and then deleted it. The media is missing. You can fight back right now against Trump Jr. by making a donation directly to Kamala and helping us have her back too. Retweet & chip in here: https://t.co/12f5cv5bDr pic.twitter.com/iIT1yVL6MA
— Party Majority (@PartyMajority) June 28, 2019
Shortly after his tweet, a slew of Twitter accounts began pushing the same racist message.
A lot of suspect accounts are pushing the “Kamala Harris is not Black” narrative tonight. It’s everywhere and it has all the signs of being a coordinated/artificial operation. #DemDebate2 pic.twitter.com/DTeB2qWJnm
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) June 28, 2019
Buzzfeed News reports:
Just as Barack Obama’s US citizenship and background became a full-fledged conspiracy theory — promoted at the time by Donald Trump — Harris has also been targeted with disinformation questioning her race and legitimacy as a US citizen. Obama birther conspiracy theorists and prominent neo-Nazis, including Andrew Anglin, have questioned her eligibility to run for president, and she’s been labeled an “anchor baby.”
In fact, Harris was born in Oakland to an Indian mother and Jamaican father, and is eligible to run for president.
“Seeing the tweets declaring that Kamala isn’t black enough because her parents are from Jamaica and India, I had an immediate flashback to the 2008 campaign,” said Shauna Daly, who led the fight against online smears on the Obama campaign. That campaign faced an early wave of rumors about Obama’s race and religion, which later coalesced into false claims about the president’s birthplace, whose most famous champion was Donald Trump.
The racist message was also amplified by Katrina Pierson, the president’s former campaign spokeswoman.