Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the U.S. Senate, was asked by NBC News host Craig Melvin whether the Republicans are using him as a token as they deal with the intense racial conflict resulting from the police killing of George Floyd.
"You have faced a fair amount of criticism, especially over the past few days, because you are the only black Republican senator. Some have said that your party is using you, they've even thrown around the word 'token,' as well. Your response to that criticism?" Melvin asked Scott during an interview.
Despite the insulting implication of the question, Scott laughed it off and clearly explained how his experience as a black man uniquely qualifies him above his Republican colleagues to take the lead on race matters:
Well, I am also the only person in my conference who has been racially profiled driving while black. I'm the only one in my conference that's been stopped seven times in one year as an elected official, perhaps the only one in my conference wearing this Senate pin that was stopped from coming into the building. So if there's someone in the conference who understands discrimination and profiling, it's me. It's the reason why I asked to lead this charge, because it is a personal issue, it is the right issue. And frankly, I think it helps to have someone who's been a victim of this situation and who still has a tremendous respect for where our country can go together.
So I shrug those comments and criticisms off. But you've got to know, when you're a black Republican, you're like a unicorn. People are going to criticize you when you wake up, when you go to sleep, if you say you like apple pie and football, there's a lot of critics for that, too. So God bless their souls.
Scott is leading Republican efforts to draft police reform legislation. He will lead a working group that also includes Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and James Lankford of Oklahoma.
"None of us have had the experience of being an African American in this country and dealing with this discrimination which persists here some 50 years after the 1964 civil rights bill and the 1965 civil rights bill," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said of his decision to have Scott lead the police reform effort, according to Politico. "We're still wrestling with America's original sin. … And I think the best way for Senate Republicans to go forward on this is to listen to one of our own."