CNN Panel Chaos: Keith Boykin Questions Paris Dennard's Race

CNN Panel Chaos: Keith Boykin Questions Paris Dennard's Screenshot via YouTube
On Monday, a panel discussion on CNN devolved into chaos when one African American commentator seemed to question another African American commentator’s race-affiliation.

The on-air brouhaha began when progressive, Keith Boykin, said: “… the reality is that President Trump has not done enough, and I'm ashamed that you as an African-American, Paris, will not say that.”

Boykin’s remark struck a nerve in Paris Dennard, a vocal Trump supporter, who began to reply with the following:

Well Keith, I don't need you to try and pull my black card. I am well aware of my blackness, and don't need you to try and classify me as being one.

Boykin interjected, asking Dennard: “Are you?”

Dennard continued, even more troubled:

I understand what racism is. Keith, don't go there. Do not go there. I know what it means to be a black man in this country, and I experience racism on a regular basis by being a Trump supporter and by being a proud American who happens to be a Republican. I get racist comments about my family, about my mother, about my girlfriend, about my character — every single day, mostly coming from black people if you wanna get down to it.

The rest of the exchange is as follows:

BOYKIN: That's the racism you experience? We have people who are being murdered for being black in this country, not because they supported —

DENNARD: Keith, let me finish! My family is from Georgia; we have members of my family that went missing because of the KKK taking them up. So don't come to me and tell me what it means to be a blank person in this country. I fought every day in the George W. Bush White House —

BOYKIN: I asked you a question, Paris. Calm down and answer the question.

DENNARD: No, no, no. I won't calm down because I won't be attacked by you about my blackness because I happen to be a Republican, and I listen to our president who —

BOYKIN: Paris, you're really going off the rails here.

DENNARD: I am going off the rails because you have no grounds and no respect to attack somebody like this. You don't like me —

BOYKIN: Paris, you're obviously very sensitive and defensive about this issue, Paris, because you have your own issues and demons to resolve.

DENNARD: Keith, you better watch your mouth when you talk to me. Get your guests under control. Get them under control because I will not come on this show and be disrespected, have my ethnicity attacked …

BOYKIN: But you can disrespect African Americans every day when you come on this show?

DENNARD: And you don't represent them at all. You don't represent the 8% who voted for this president.

The conversation continued in this vein. Once Brooke Baldwin was able to calm Dennard down, she offered Joseph Pinion, another African American Trump supporter, the floor, and he summed things up eloquently:

I think that the reality is that this is where we've been at as a nation for a very long time. So, I don't think this is something that necessarily is new. I think that for a lot of Americans, they’re just finally realizing the fissures that have existed in this nation for a very long time. I listened to what just occurred right now — it's heart-breaking because again, I look at both of you, you are my brothers. And regardless of what's happening right now in this country, we have to find a way to fix these issues as brothers. Not tearing each other down, not engaging in black-on-black intellectual crime in prime time, you know?

So, I understand that we get frustrated when people try to castigate us. I get ridiculous things on Twitter — same way as you do, Paris — and I understand the frustration and the anger, but you cannot drive out hate with rage. …

I think there are realities that we need to confront on the Republican side, as well as just as a nation. I think that when you have a president that habitually communicates in the language of hyperbole, when you contrast that with the statement that he made over the weekend, it makes it very difficult for people who have been marginalized, for people who do not necessarily feel like they have felt the warm embrace from this president, to believe that he is being sincere. That is just the outcome of what has transpired, for better and for worse.

And so I think, again, ultimately, it’s incumbent on us, those of us who have this platform, those of us who have been blessed with the opportunity to have input on issues that impact people's lives to be able to sit down and say: “What is our objective?” And then see that there is not one path to get there, but that multiple forces from different standpoints can work together to get us to where we're trying to be as a society.

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