Vice President Harris said clearly that the U.S. has racism in its history, bucking remarks to the contrary from GOP presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“There is no denying that we have, in our history as a nation, racism,” she said in an ABC News interview Wednesday. “I think we all would agree that while it is part of our past, and that we see vestiges of it today, we should also be committed collectively to not letting it define the future of our country.”
“It’s unfortunate that there are some who would deny fact, or overlook it, when in fact, moving toward progress requires that we speak truth,” she added, referencing Haley’s remarks earlier this week.
Haley denied the country’s history of racism in a Fox News interview Tuesday.
“We’ve never been a racist country,” Haley said. “Our goal is to make sure that today is better than yesterday. Are we perfect? No. But our goal is to always make sure we try and be more perfect every day that we can.”
A Haley campaign spokesperson later clarified her comments to The Hill, noting that while the country “has always had racism … America has never been a racist country.”
DeSantis echoed a similar sentiment later Tuesday.
Harris, the country’s first Black vice president, has often leaned on her experience as a Black woman to discuss combatting the country’s racist history, from slavery to segregation.
But the vice president has also signaled that she agrees with Haley and DeSantis about the modern day. She said in 2021 that America is not a racist country now, but she has taken issue with extending that ideal to the past.
She has also repeatedly acknowledged the impacts of the history of racism in the U.S. on the present day.
“There’s no question that this system is deeply flawed,” Harris said in a 2019 interview during her own presidential campaign. “There’s systemic racism in the system.”
“I’m Black, and I’m proud of being Black,” she added. “I was born Black. I will die Black, and I’m not going to make excuses for anybody because they don’t understand.”