A national organization working to boost Joe Biden’s support within the south Asian community is lashing out at former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley for claiming “America is not a racist country.”
South Asians for Biden, a grassroots group not officially affiliated with the former vice president’s campaign, took to social media on Monday shortly after Haley told the Republican National Convention that it was now “fashionable,” among some Democrats, to assert that “America is racist.”
“That is a lie. America is not a racist country,” Haley, who was the country’s first Indian American elected to a state governorship, said in her remarks. “This is personal for me. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants… I was a brown girl in a black and white world.”
A number of progressives initially took umbrage at the line, many noting that Haley had also admitted during the address that her family had faced “discrimination and hardship” in the past because of their background. South Asians for Biden, however, took such criticism a step further, suggesting that the former ambassador—whose full name is Nimrata Nikki Haley—was forced to “change her name” to avoid racist inclinations.
“If America isn’t racist why did Nimrata Haley feel compelled to change her name to ‘Nikki,'” the group wrote on social media. “Maybe just the Republican Party is?”
The attack quickly proved controversial, with many noting that “Nikki” translates to “little one” in Punjabi, which is the native language of Haley’s parents. As such, South Asians for Biden was forced to delete its initial tweet and issue a statement expressing regret over “the tone of the message.”
“Upon further reflection, an earlier tweet drawing attention to the name of Ambassador Nikki Haley has been removed. South Asians for Biden regrets the tone of the message,” the group wrote. “We will continue to focus on the very real issues facing South Asian voters this election.”
Upon further reflection, an earlier tweet drawing attention to the name of Ambassador Nikki Haley has been removed. South Asians for Biden regrets the tone of the message. We will continue to focus on the very real issues facing South Asian voters this election.
— South Asians for Biden (@SAforBiden) August 25, 2020
The Biden campaign did not respond to requests for comment on this story. This is not the first time that the campaign or one of its allies has drawn criticism for perceived racial insensitivity. Most notably, the former vice president during a radio appearance in May seemed to suggest that any African American voter considering backing President Donald Trump over him “ain’t black.”