The mask slips, and Republicans accidentally tell the truth about how they feel about people who look like me. Today's contestant: GOP Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, up for re-election in 2016.
In a little-noticed interview last week, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) described African-American neighborhoods as areas that people in his state try to avoid.
The comment, with its racial undertones, came during a sit-down interview with the Peoria Journal Star and followed a question about how to encourage business development in Kirk's home state.
“I want to make sure we have elected people constantly looking at helping the African-American community,” Kirk said. “With this state and all of its resources, we could sponsor a whole new class of potential innovators like George Washington Carver and eventually have a class of African-American billionaires. That would really adjust income differentials and make the diversity and outcome of the state much better so that the black community is not the one we drive faster through." [emphasis added.]
Wait, what? So Sen. Kirk, you normally find yourself driving faster through black communities? Exactly why is that, especially since you represent a state with nearly 1.9 million African-American constituents? Is it out of fear? Disgust? Anger?
"We" would like to know.
The notion that people hit the gas when driving through black neighborhoods is a common racial stereotype about urbanization and criminal behavior among African-Americans. The fact that an elected senator from a state with a sizable black population would make such a comment was deemed unfortunate by at least one African-American leader in Illinois.
"I think what he was trying to say is, he was trying to relate that to crime. But boy, it was a poor choice of phraseology," said George Mitchell, president of the NAACP's Illinois State Conference.
No, Sen. Kirk was being honest about how he views the 15% of the state that is black. He's afraid of them.
Perhaps he's afraid he'll be voted out of office in 2016. I can't imagine his Tea Party antics are going over well back in Peoria, especially now that he has to go up against Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth.