Haley Faces Backlash Over ‘Brown’ Remark and US Racism Views

Nikki Haley | Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Presidential contender Nikki Haley recently sparked controversy following her remarks about her racial identity during a joint interview with NBC News and The Des Moines Register. Haley, who is of Indian descent, referred to herself as “brown,” sparking a wave of online backlash.

In the interview, conducted by Dasha Burns, Haley was asked about her approach to discussions on race. She responded by recounting her experiences growing up in South Carolina as part of an Indian family, stating that she was “teased every day for being brown.” This comment quickly became a focal point of contention online.

The Twitter sphere exploded with reactions, with many drawing parallels between Haley’s remarks and those made previously by Senator Elizabeth Warren, who claimed Native American heritage. One user, under the handle @EndWokeness, criticized Haley for feigning understanding of the discrimination faced by people of color, despite her privileged position.

This incident comes on the heels of another controversy involving Haley. In late December 2023, during a town hall event in New Hampshire, Haley was questioned about the cause of the Civil War. Rather than citing slavery as the primary cause, Haley focused on other factors, which drew criticism from both the public and fellow politicians across the political spectrum. Haley later clarified her stance during a radio interview with The Pulse, stating, “I’m from the South, of course, I know it’s about slavery.”

In her NBC News interview, when reminded of her previous comments on slavery, Haley attempted to shift focus to her personal experiences with racism growing up. She cited her involvement in addressing the racial profiling case of Walter Scott, a 50-year-old Black man shot by a police officer in South Carolina in 2015. Haley claimed credit for implementing the first body camera bill in the country in response to the incident.

Haley also referenced the 2015 Charleston church massacre, an anti-black mass shooting and hate crime. She stated that she was the one who “called for the Confederate flag to come down,” a move she said was not supported by other Republicans or Democrats.

Despite her attempts to clarify her stance on racial issues, Haley’s remarks have faced severe backlash on social media. Many users criticized her for claiming to understand the experiences of people of color and for her assertion that the United States “has never been a racist country.”

Nikki Haley, born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, is the daughter of Indian-immigrant Sikh parents. She adopted her husband Michael Haley’s surname after their marriage in 1996.