Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson has made headlines and earned a suspension from his A&E show after making homophobic comments in a GQ interview, but his remarks about race in the south have drawn the ire of some in the civil rights community.
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once,” Robertson told the magazine, referring to his time growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in Louisiana. “Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash.”
“We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy,” he continued. “I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Janaye Ingram, national executive director of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, blasted those remarks for their “ignorance” Wednesday.
“His narrow-minded delusions about the state of happiness felt by black people during the 50s and 60s civil rights era are some of the same arguments spewed by the proponents of Jim Crow laws at that time and obviously are contrary to the truth,” she told Radar. “He is not an authority on the Black experience, no matter how many Black people he has known, seen, or heard sing.”
Ingram said that she didn’t expect Robertson to be “an expert on what the Black experience was like” before the civil rights advances of that time, adding that it’s a further insult to say he only had contact with black people because his family was “white trash” to begin with.
“He may accept a lower than equitable status for himself and his family, but he cannot transfer his acceptance to black people,” she said.