A West Virginia lawmaker can be seen singing a racial slur in a video obtained Wednesday by HuffPost.
In the video, West Virginia House Delegate Saira Blair (R) and a friend belt out explicit lyrics to Lil Wayne’s 2010 rap single “Gonorrhea,” which appear uncensored below.
The lyrics they sang along to are: “I call it how I see ya. I wish I never met ya. I wouldn’t wanna be ya. Pussy-ass nigga, I don’t want your gonorrhea. Pussy-ass nigga ―”
Blair confirmed the video’s authenticity in a statement to HuffPost and said it was filmed in the summer of 2015. Blair was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in November 2014.
“This video was taken in the summer of 2015 and shows my roommate and I singing along to a Lil’ Wayne song, which is clearly heard playing in the background,” Blair said. “I do not condone the use of racial epithets, and if taken in context, it is clear that singing the lyrics was not meant to offend anyone.”
The video was originally posted to the roommate’s Snapchat, a source close to the matter told HuffPost. While Blair defended her use of the slur as simply “singing the lyrics,” black activists have repeatedly rejected that argument. During an event in November at a high school in Illinois, author Ta-Nehisi Coates explained why non-black people shouldn’t use that epithet while quoting rap lyrics.
“Words don’t have a meaning without context,” Coates said. He explained that even though certain communities can choose to use a derogatory term ironically among themselves, it doesn’t make it OK for those outside that community to do so.
“For white people, I think the experience of being a hip-hop fan and not being able to use the word ‘nigga’ will be very insightful,” he continued. “This will give you just a little peek into the world of what it means to be black. Because to be black is to walk through the world and watch people doing things that you cannot do.”
In a December 2014 interview with the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Blair said she believed Americans are “past the point of looking at things from a racial perspective” and that talking about “racial tendencies” creates further division.
“The issue of race is never going to go away unless we stop talking about the issue of race and stop saying black power, white power, Hispanic power,” Blair told the Gazette. “As long as we keep creating that division it’s not going to be solved... I think harping on the racial issues, the racial tendencies, that enhances them.”
Blair made history in November 2014 when she defeated a two-term incumbent delegate at the age of 18 to become the youngest elected legislator in U.S. history. Blair’s father, Craig Blair, is a Republican state senator in West Virginia and served as her 2014 campaign manager. On top of her legislative duties, she is currently studying economics and Spanish at West Virginia University.
Last week, the 21-year-old lawmaker was the only person in the West Virginia House of Delegates to vote against House Bill 4145, which sought to increase teachers’ pay by 5 percent. Public schools across West Virginia were closed for nearly two weeks as thousands of teachers went on strike to demand higher pay and lower health care premiums.
“We’ve already voted out a pay raise, one that was fair and within our budget,” Blair told West Virginia News last Wednesday about her no vote.
Blair announced in January that she would not seek re-election in 2018, citing plans to attend graduate school outside of West Virginia.
John Isner, a Democrat running for Blair’s seat in the 2018 West Virginia House election, called the video “extremely disappointing.”
“It shows a massive lack of maturity,” Isner, 25, told HuffPost in an email. “This is another example of why we need to make changes here in West Virginia.”
This story has been updated with Blair’s past comments on race and a comment from John Isner.