Democrats Face Performative Blacklash After Taking A Knee With Kente Cloth

Democrats Face Performative Blacklash After Taking A Knee With Kente Cloth

Democrats are facing a performative blacklash after taking a knee to honor George Floyd while wearing kente cloth. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference to unveil policing reform and equal justice legislation on Capitol Hill, June 8, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta). Pelosi of Calif. and other members of Congress kneel in silence at the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall, June 8, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington, reading the names of George Floyd and others killed during police interactions. Democrats proposed a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures, an ambitious legislative response to the mass protests denouncing the deaths of black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Whether it was well-intended or not, when Democrats showed up to the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center wearing kente cloth stoles in a show of Black “solidarity,” the gesture came off as clueless.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD ) kneeled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. That’s how long former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd.

Congressional Democrats wore the traditional African cloth to announce the Justice in Policing Act — sweeping legislation aimed at increasing the accountability of police officers.

The kente cloth stoles were handed out by the Congressional Black Caucus.

While the proposed police reform act has been praised, people reacted to the kente cloth-clad politicians on social media.

“Well this happened. @SpeakerPelosi finally broke her ominous SILENCE on the national uprisings against white supremacist violence. And while she looks fetching in her African patterned shawl we’re not going for SYMBOLIC GESTURES. LAWS AND PROSECUTIONS. Oh yeah and #CutTheCheck“, Black Authority tweeted @TheBlackChannel.

“This is so racist. Wearing Kente cloth and kneeling like white gods in unity as a performance not policy changes. Burn it down. Fvck Capitalism” Dinah is more than a Vote tweeted @DinahPoellnitz.

Rodney D. Pierce @MrRDPierce called for Democrats to focus on reparations, not kente. He tweeted, “@SpeakerPelosi and @DNC, while the Kente Cloth is laughable at best, you and the party would show true solidarity by giving my people our #Reparations, the debt that’s owed by the US government for chattel slavery, Jim Crow & ongoing racial injustice. #Reparations2020.”

But Rep. Bass, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, defended the clothing accessory choice to MSNBC.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 72: Jamarlin Martin Part 2. J Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, may not be around but his energy is present in new Black politics.

“The significance of the kente cloth is our African heritage, and for those of you without that heritage who are acting in solidarity,” Bass said at the news conference. “That is the significance of the Kente cloth. Our origins and respecting our past.”

Kente cloth is originally from modern-day Ghana and Togo. It is traditionally produced by the men of the Akan and Ewe people in a process that goes back to 1000 B.C., according to the African American Intellectual History Society, Today reported.

April Reign, creator of the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, said the cloth-wearing was a “show of solidarity” from “more seasoned folks,” according to Forbes. She added, “I just hope we don’t miss what happened after the performative part, which is that legislation is being introduced.”