The white South Carolina senator cited the elections of former President Barack Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris when asked during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” if there is systemic racism in policing and other institutions in the U.S.
“No, not in my opinion,” Graham said. “We just elected a two-term African American president. The vice president is of African-American-Indian descent. So our systems are not racist. America is not a racist country. Within every society, you have bad actors.”
Data demonstrates the existence and effects of systemic racism across scores of laws and institutions in the United States. Racial disparities are ingrained in almost every component of American society, including employment, wealth, education, home ownership, healthcare and incarceration. The elections of Obama and Harris do not change this, though they were a step forward in addressing the historically low representation of Black Americans in political leadership.
Graham also criticized President Joe Biden’s comments about racism last week. After Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd, Biden said racism in America issue needed to be confronted “head on.”
Graham’s faulty logic was panned by critics, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who said on CNN that Graham was trying to “tell us that the sky is not blue.”
“It’s as if saying we don’t have poverty issues in this country because we have millionaires and billionaires. I really don’t know what point he was trying to make with that statement,” Omar said. “It’s obvious we have a long way to go in this country if we have lawmakers who are refusing to acknowledge the fact that there is institutionalized racism that is embedded within our systems that we need to actively work in rooting out.”
See more of the reactions below.