Illustration for article titled Loud, Wrong and White Democratic Strategist Apologizes to Black Woman for Whitesplaining MLK to Her and Saying She Has No Standing
Screenshot: CNN (YouTube)

Whitesplaining Martin Luther King Jr. to black people appears to have joined baseball, eating contests and lynching negroes as America’s newest pastime.


The latest culprit of this relatively recent phenomenon is Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen who not only attempted to explain her interpretation of MLK’s words in his Letter from Birmingham Jail to a black woman, but she reached all the way to the peak of Mt. Caucacity and found the unmitigated gall to tell said black woman she doesn’t have the right to invoke the renowned civil rights leader’s words.

It all started during a segment of CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” on Thursday when Rosen was defending presidential candidate Joe Biden against attacks from Bernie Sanders co-chair Nina Turner.


“Nina referenced Dr. Martin Luther King before, saying that he said from the Birmingham jail that we should be concerned about white moderates. That’s actually not what Martin Luther King said,” said Rosen.

Turner shot back, appropriately appalled by Rosen’s display of white privilege and entitlement, “He did say that. How are you going to tell me — about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Are you kidding me?”

Rosen continued being loud and wrong saying, “We should worry about the silence of white moderates. And what we have in Joe Biden is a man who is not silent.”

For the record, Rosen doesn’t have the faintest clue what the hell she’s talking about. Here are King’s exact words.


“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’”

It’s bewildering how anyone could interpret that as a condemnation of white silence when white moderates telling black people to wait for the right time for freedom and equality is in no way, shape or form silence, but even that faux-pas pales (pun intended) in comparison to her saying to Turner: “Don’t use Martin Luther King against Joe Biden. You don’t have that stand.”


The energy of one million black women rolling their eyes and their necks was almost tangible through Turner’s response. Here’s the rest of their exchange as transcribed by NBC News:

“Don’t tell me what kind of stand that I have as a black woman in America. How dare you,” Turner quickly responded.

Rosen went on to say that Turner has “a lot of standing as a black woman in America,” but that she doesn’t have the standing to “attack” Biden using King’s words.

“I didn’t attack anybody,” Turner said. “You’re taking it that way. Listen, don’t dip in to what I have to say about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. How dare you, as a white woman, sit up here and try to tell me what I’m supposed to feel and what I’m going.”

Rosen said that was not what she said and told Turner, “Don’t you do that.”

Rosen quickly received a ton of online backlash for her display of white authoritarianism forcing her to take to Twitter and apologize to Turner.


“On air thurs I said my colleague @ninaturner didn’t have standing to use MLK Jr. That was wrong. I am sorry for saying those words,” Rosen wrote in a now-deleted tweet, according to NBC. “Pls no need to defend me and attack angry black women. They have standing. I always need to listen more than I talk. We rise together.”

Her use of “angry black women,” of course, did not help her cause if she was looking to be forgiven.


Holly Figueroa O’Reilly, the founder of Blue Wave Crowdsource, an organization that supports Democratic candidates, tweeted, “’Angry Black women.’ This is at least as racist as telling a black woman she doesn’t have any standing to talk about MLK. I say this as a Biden supporter who is embarrassed by your white feminism: Hillary Rosen, this is a terrible apology. Do better.”


NBC News and MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley wrote in a tweet: “I don’t have time to dissect this. But suffice it to say, do better: ‘No need to defend me and attack angry black women. They have standing.’”


After all the backlash for her “apology,” Rosen attempted to explain herself through a series of contrite tweets saying that she was “humbly sorry.”

“I’m horrified that anyone would think i would call Nina Turner ‘an angry black woman’ I would NEVER!! After the TV hit last night, I was getting tons of ugly messages to keep fighting her using that phrase. I was trying to tell people to STOP. Cause I KNEW I needed to apologize.”


Of course, she needed to apologize; but does she even know what all she needs to be sorry for?

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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