Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) conceded to black college graduates on Friday that she is “not a person of color” after she was heavily criticized and mocked for taking a DNA test and claiming that she is part Native American.
“As a country, we need to stop pretending that the same doors open for everyone, because they don’t,” Warren reportedly said in a commencement address at Morgan State University, a historically black institution, according to the Washington Post. “I’m not a person of color. And I haven’t lived your life or experienced anything like the subtle prejudice, or more overt harm, that you may have experienced just because of the color of your skin.”
Warren’s admission that she is not a “person of color” falls short of the apology that some of her advisers and Democrats of color have reportedly advised Warren to make.
The New York Times revealed last week that even Warren has realized her DNA test, which she used to claim she could be 1/1024th Native American, has been an unmitigated disaster. The Times noted that Warren has “yet to allay criticism from grass-roots progressive groups, liberal political operatives and other potential 2020 allies who complain that she put too much emphasis on the controversial field of racial science.”
“Advisers close to Ms. Warren say she has privately expressed concern that she may have damaged her relationships to Native American groups and her own standing with progressive activists, particularly those who are racial minorities,” the Times noted. “Several outside advisers are even more worried: They say they believe a plan should be made to repair that damage, possibly including a strong statement of apology.”
Though Warren and her allies in the media have insisted that she has never benefited from claiming to be part Native American, a 1997 Fordham Law Review article described Warren as Harvard Law School’s “first woman of color.”
Politico reported in 2012 that the Fordham Law Review piece was “based, according to the notes at the bottom of the story, on a ‘telephone interview with Michael Chmura, News Director, Harvard Law (Aug. 6, 1996).’”
Politico further noted at the time:
The mention was in the middle of a lengthy and heavily-annotated Fordham piece on diversity and affirmative action and women. The title of the piece, by Laura Padilla, was “Intersectionality and positionality: Situating women of color in the affirmative action dialogue.”
“There are few women of color who hold important positions in the academy, Fortune 500 companies, or other prominent fields or industries,” the piece says. “This is not inconsequential. Diversifying these arenas, in part by adding qualified women of color to their ranks, remains important for many reasons. For one, there are scant women of color as role models. In my three years at Stanford Law School, there were no professors who were women of color. Harvard Law School hired its first woman of color, Elizabeth Warren, in 1995.”
Though Warren has been working behind the scenes to put together a national organization ahead of a potential 2020 campaign, even her hometown Boston Globe suggested last week that she take a pass on 2020.
“Warren missed her moment in 2016, and there’s reason to be skeptical of her prospective candidacy in 2020,” the Globe, which has been her primary cheerleader, wrote in an editorial. “While Warren is an effective and impactful senator with an important voice nationally, she has become a divisive figure. A unifying voice is what the country needs now after the polarizing politics of Donald Trump.”
The Post also reported last week that after the blowback Warren got after her DNA test, one of Warren’s longtime political architects who was expected to have a prominent role in a potential Warren 2020 presidential campaign will meet with Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke about potentially joining his 2020 operation if O’Rourke decides to run.