After conservative websites and then the Daily Mail unearthed a birth certificate that lists both parents of Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King as white, King himself has decided to clear up the controversy in an essay for the Daily Kos.
Entitled “Race, love, hate and me: A distinctly American story,” King addresses the presence of a white father on his birth certificate head on, saying that the person listed is not his biological father. In his words:
I refuse to speak in detail about the nature of my mother’s past, or her sexual partners, and I am gravely embarrassed to even be saying this now, but 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.My mother and I have discussed her affair. She was a young woman in a bad relationship and I have no judgment.
King’s parentage was an open secret in the small town of Versailles, Kentucky that he grew up in, with classmates and their parents constantly alluding to it. He also writes that everybody treated him as black, that his loved ones told him that he was: “As you could imagine, this had a profound impact on me and soon became my truth.”
King also experienced open, violent racism as a teenager, set off by a physical fight he engaged in:
My freshman year in high school, another student and I got into a huge fight at a football game. The fight ended up setting off a powder keg of racial tensions at our school. The school paper back then referred to me as black and him as white. We were suspended for three days and while we were out, racial tensions boiled over so much that hundreds of white students staged a walkout because they had just been banned from wearing Confederate flags.
After that, students constantly harassed him, culminating in a March 1995 incident where a mob beat him so severely that he had to get three spinal surgeries. It was during his recovery that King became a Christian and went to the historically black Morehouse College.
King then ends by writing that he has never been ashamed of his family background, and that attempts to discredit him are all “a farce.” He says that this is the last time that he’ll address where he came from in public for a while, and that he is eager to get back to fighting for an end to police brutality.
MSNBC reported this latest news about King’s parentage before his essay went up, with reporter Joy Reid alluding to a similar incident where Department of Agricultural official Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign her post after a misleadingly edited video of remarks she made at an NAACP event went viral. That video was also spread by the late Andrew Breitbart, whose namesake website is behind this latest racial controversy.