Sen. Barbara Boxer, Accused of Race Politics Today During the EPW Hearing

Anne Schroeder Mullins, Politico, July 16, 2009

While most people were paying attention to Day 4 of Sonia Sotomayor’s Senate confirmation hearings, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was grabbing the attention of all those watching the Environment and Public Works hearing this morning.

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Boxer was speaking to panelist Harry C. Alford, the president & CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

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Boxer then quoted a NAACP resolution that passed and put it in the record.

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Alford: “What does that mean, though? The NAACP has a resolution, what does that mean?”

Boxer: “Sir, they could say the same thing about what do you mean . . .”

Alford: “I’ve got documentation.”

Boxer: “Sir, they passed it. They passed it. Now, also, if that isn’t interesting you to we’ll quote John Grant, who is the CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta.” [She goes on to read quote.]

Alford: “Madam Chair, that is condescending to me. I’m the National Black Chamber of Commerce and you’re trying to put up some other black group to pit against me.”

Boxer: “If this gentlemen were here he would be proud that he was being quoted.”

Alford: “He should have been invited!”

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Boxer: ” . . . he’s proud, I’m sure, that I am quoting him.”

Alford: “All that’s condescending, and I don’t like it. It’s racial. I don’t like it. I take offense to it. As an African-American and a veteran of this country, I take offense to that!”

Boxer: “. . . offense at the fact that I would quote . . . ?”

Alford: “You’re quoting some other black man. Why don’t you quote some other Asian . . . or . . . you are being racial here. And I think you’re getting to a path here that’s going to explode.”

Boxer reviews what she had been doing and then mentions that “there is definitely differing opinions in the black community. Just as there are in my community.”

Alford: “You’re speaking on behalf of the black community?”

Boxer: “No. I am putting in the record a statement by the NAACP.”

Alford: “Why?”

Boxer: “Because I think it is quite relevant.”

Alford: “. . . Why are you doing the Colored People Association study with the Black Chamber of Commerce?”

Boxer: “I am trying to show the diversity of support that we have.”

Alford: “Diversity?”

Boxer: “And I will go ahead and do one more diversity of support . . .”

Eventually Alford declares, “We are referring to the experts regardless of their color. And for someone to tell me, an African-American, college-educated veteran of the United States Army that I must contend with some other black group and put aside everything else in here–this has nothing to do with the NAACP and really has nothing to do with the National Black Chamber of Commerce. We’re talking energy and that road the chair went down, I think, is god-awful.”

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