SANTA MONICA, CA – JANUARY 13: Debra Messing attends The 24th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 13, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Kanye West’s bid for the 2020 presidency has everyone up in arms — including Will & Grace‘s Debra Messing. Messing, a vocal supporter of former vice president Joe Biden, tweeted on Wednesday saying that West’s run for office, in her expert opinion, will result in some young Black voters casting their ballots for him instead of Biden, who currently has a sizable Black supporter base.
Retweeting singer and activist Ricky Davila who describes West as “a redhat wearing MAGA lunatic” who is engaged in a plan with Trump to “strip whatever support they can away from Biden as a last ditch effort,” Messing replied, “Absolutely.”
Absolutely. He’s playing Jill Stein. He’s trying to take you g black voters from Biden. It’s disgusting. https://t.co/9tlAkn3JxU
— Debra Messing✍🏻 (@DebraMessing) July 5, 2020
Messing’s take did not sit well with former Ohio State Senator and Bernie Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner who responded to Messing’s tweet calling the connotation racist. “1. Black voters are not owned by anyone. Our vote should be earned every election cycle. 2. We can think for ourselves & don’t need your help. 3. Sometimes it’s best to stay out of family business,” Turner wrote.
“Oh PLEASE, Nina,” Messing replied. “Kanye is an avowed Trump supporter. Trump’s numbers have plummeted, Trump doubled down on his racist platform at Mt Rushmore, and 100 days before election Kanye is going to announce NOW? I thought you were smarter than than Nina. Clearly it is an attempt to help.” West detailed in his Forbes interview that he is no longer supporting Trump.
Messing then doubled down, saying, “It’s not racist to say that Kanye can take Biden leaning voters from him.” She went on to tell Turner, who is a Black woman, “If you really care about the AA Community having their vote counted, I’ll have Stacey Abrams call you when I speak with her this week.”
But there is an apparent issue with Messing’s tweets that the actress continues to overlook: She is pitting two Black woman politicians against each other, and she is speaking for a community of Black voters that she doesn’t belong to. In a thread calling out her behavior, Turner said that Messing’s response and “lack of awareness” is part of the problem.
“For Black women I like, I use the ‘Black friend card’ and demand that they go check another Black woman. Moreover, I don’t respect the agency of Black people,” Turner wrote in tweets from the perspective of Messing. Turner says one of the key issues she finds in Messing’s rhetoric is that there is a perception that “all the suffering in the world started in 2016” when in reality “Black people, poor people, working-class people and other marginalized groups were catching hell well before 2016.”
“You prefer conformity & illusion over righteous critique & substance. You are dazzled by a type of politics that celebrates being ‘better than Trump’ without understanding how critically dangerous & low that bar is,” Turner wrote to Messing, after equating her behavior to being a stereotypical Karen.
Now I’m a bitter Black woman who can’t comprehend, @DebraMessing you are well out of your depth baby. You need to read this moment, but you can’t even do that. Stop using other people to cover for your ineptness. Repeat after me: I @DebraMessing am a racist and I need help. 1/ https://t.co/dMtDQe4VUh
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) July 8, 2020
Others replied to the exchange in support of Turner, saying that Messing’s position was out of line to begin with. “What people need to understand about my big sis Senator @ninaturner is that she’s an incredibly kind, good spirited woman. She is patient. She is brilliant. She is also incredibly magnanimous. She is making time to educate @DebraMessing because the moment demands it,” wrote Winifred Wayward, Bernie Sanders’ former senior advisor.
As messy as Messing’s take is, this isn’t the first time the actress has been called out for supporting racist rhetoric. In September, Messing issued an apology for “recklessly supporting” an Alabama church sign that read “a Black vote for Trump is mental illness.” She has historically gone to bat for other centrist candidates, like Hillary Clinton, in other major Twitter feuds, too.
But Messing isn’t the first white celebrity with an influential platform to try and tell Black people how to vote. She likely won’t be the last, either. Her concern over Kanye West’s candidacy may very well be shared en masse with Democratic voters — or at the very least, the “anyone but Trump” voters. But imposing concerns about West on Black voters is not only marginalizing and racist, but completely out of Messing’s depth as a white woman. Rather than using her energy arguing over what is best for Black people — or Black voters — Messing should reevaluate her messaging, and maybe take a beat to listen to the Black women in politics instead.
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