The Georgia senator appeared to compare his experience in Asia to racial discrimination against Black Americans and immigrants living in the United States
All eyes are on Sen. David Perdue‘s runoff race against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff to keep his Georgia U.S. Senate seat — a political battle that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of the U.S. Senate or whether Democrats are able to flip the upper chamber and hand a huge legislative advantage for President-elect Joe Biden.
As the country grapples with racial violence and discrimination against Black Americans and immigrants, a national outcry for changes in policing and protections for people of color had led to millions of Americans taking to the streets earlier this year in mass protests.
More specifically, citizens, community leaders and activists have galvanized in a collective effort to end longstanding white supremacy in the United States.
Sen. Perdue, who is white, claimed in previous interviews that he understands the plight of marginalized people in America because he, too, has been discriminated against — suggesting that discrimination goes both ways despite polls showing that most Americans agree that people of color are treated less fairly than whites.
Following the fatal police shooting of Rayshard Brooks, an unarmed Black man, in Perdue’s home state of Georgia in June, Perdue said in an interview with Fox News that he and his family were victims of discrimination while living in Asia. That experience, he appeared to suggest, made him uniquely aware of what it’s like to be discriminated against, which he described as an “emotional thing to me.”
“I grew up in the Deep South. My dad was an educator. My mom and dad were teachers. My dad integrated one of the first school systems in Georgia. I’ve lived with this my entire life,” Perdue told Fox News.
“I’ve also lived in Asia, where I had discrimination perpetrated toward me and my family. This is an emotional thing to me, and this is very serious.”
Perdue made similar comments comparing his experience as an “immigrant” months later in an August interview with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce while discussing the topic of immigration.
“I’m a business guy, but I’ve lived outside the country, I’ve been an immigrant, you know, in other countries … it’s a double-faceted issue. It really is. Number one, we want to protect the sanctity of our borders … that’s just what civilized countries do,” Perdue said.
“We also wanna bring in quality people. This country was built on immigration, there’s just no question about it. So, there’s a great misunderstanding, when you want — confusion around when you want to protect the sanctity and integrity of a border, doesn’t mean you want to shut down immigration.”
When asked for comment on Perdue’s statements on discrimination, Rep. Maxine Waters told theGrio, “Senator Perdue is spending his time trying to convince people that he understands the plight of Black Americans in this country, while simultaneously helping to block the Heroes Act — which the House originally passed nearly 200 days ago,” referring to the $3 trillion stimulus package passed by the House of Representatives in May, which the U.S. Senate has refused to pass.
“During this pandemic, Black Americans are more than twice as likely as white people to be behind on rent, Black-owned businesses are disproportionately struggling, and on top of it all, Black Americans have experienced the highest death rates due to COVID-19.
The congresswoman added, “It is very clear that Senator Perdue is only pretending to understand the plight of Black Americans, as evidenced by his continued opposition to the direly-needed Heroes Act. Our very lives depend on this critical relief which he continues to help block.”
A request for comment on this article from Sen. David Perdue’s office was not immediately returned.
Perdue’s runoff against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff is on Jan. 5. If successful, Ossoff would become the first Democrat to hold the seat since 2003.
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