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Shaun King has responded to allegations that he pretended to be black in an open letter posted Thursday.
The Black Lives Matter activist and Oprah scholarship recipient, whose race was called into question Wednesday by conservative media, opened up in a Daily Kos post titled, “Race, love, hate, and me: A distinctly American story.”
“I have been told for most of my life that the white man on my birth certificate is not my biological father and that my actual biological father is a light-skinned black man,” wrote King. He explained that his mother was in a bad relationship when she was young and had an affair and that he and all of his siblings (he admitted that he is uncertain how many he has) have different parents.
“For my entire life, I have held the cards of my complicated family history very close to my chest. I preferred to keep it that way and deeply resent that I have been forced to authenticate so many intimate details of my life to prove who I really am. This, in and of itself, is a form of violence,” King wrote in the letter.
He called out Breitbart, The Daily Caller and TheBlaze as sources who “falsely reported my family history” and “falsely reported that my wife and I were never in a brutal car accident, that I lied about how many kids we have (we have five now, but have had more/less because we’ve fostered, adopted, housed many of our nieces and nephews), that I lied about my race to get a scholarship from Oprah, that I lied about how many back surgeries I’ve had, and more.”
King said that when he was young, children and their parents began telling him that they knew whom his black father was, though his mother did not discuss race often inside the home, and he never brought up the subject with her.
“By the time I reached middle school, I fully identified myself not even as biracial, but just as black,” he explained in the letter. “Adults who loved and knew me, on many occasions sat me down and told me that I was black. As you could imagine, this had a profound impact on me and soon became my truth.”
He claimed in the letter that he never has identified himself as white: “Never have I once identified myself as white. Not on forms, not for convenience or privilege, and not for fun and games, have I ever identified myself as white. I was never a white guy pretending to be black.”
“My work has never been about me, and I’ve never made a big deal about my race. I’ve actually tried hard to avoid ever making a big deal out of it and have, instead, simply tried to do good work that matters,” he wrote.
He concluded: “My focus will continue to be ending police brutality. I believe it is the pre-eminent civil rights issue of modern America and that, together, we can fight against it effectively.”
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