By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
LINCOLN, Neb. — Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers said all white people are racist and that his blood was “polluted” by white people last week while filibustering a bill and lambasting a state education board member who has rejected calls for his resignation after his blog called the president a “half-breed.”
Chambers, a 77-year-old African American senator who is the state’s longest serving lawmaker, made the comments about race while filibustering a bill that would increase the fee for marriage licenses.
His comments came after three weeks of debate and calls for the resignation of State Board of Education member Pat McPherson, whose blog repeatedly used derogatory, inflammatory language to describe minorities before it was shuttered in January.
The state’s two largest newspapers, the governor, Nebraska’s U.S. senators, congressmen, the NAACP, state teachers union, Omaha City Council, Omaha School Board and state education board itself have called on McPherson to resign over the blog. He has refused, saying he didn’t write or vet the blog posts and isn’t racist.
While trying to whittle away eight hours filibustering, Chambers talked Thursday about how his ancestors were enslaved and sexually abused by some of the nation’s “righteous,” Christian founding fathers.
What they were declaring in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence was that they could do anything they wanted with black girls and women, he said.
“Oh yes, I have a great store of bitterness in me,” he said. “Why do you think I’m not black? Because some white person or persons jumped a fence and polluted the blood that is in my veins to this day.”
Recounting how blacks were promised voting rights if they served in the military, he said “white people don’t keep their word.”
Listeners to KFOR Radio were appalled and shocked by Chambers’ comments after they were replayed on the Coby Mach Show. Some said Chambers is a racist and should resign, too.
Chambers routinely denigrates “white people” and his fellow senators as racist and is rarely challenged, but his diatribe Friday finally raised the ire of a fellow filibusterer, Sen. Dave Bloomfield, R-Hoskins.
“I grow a little weary of the constant charge that we are all racist,” Bloomfield said on the floor of the Legislature. “What I see Senator Chambers doing here on a regular basis here I also feel is wrong.”
Chambers responded to Bloomfield by saying, “I make hats, and if one fits and you put it on your head, that’s on you.” He said he’s not going to stand on the floor of the Legislature and pretend things are as they should be in America.
“I simply said I was tired of hearing this body referred to as racist,” Bloomfield said.
That only riled up Chambers more, who then recounted how he’s often ignored by store clerks who serve white customers first, in an example of “white privilege.”
“When you’re black, it doesn’t change,” he said. “If I walked around here humble, afraid to look a white man in his face, they would chew me up and spit me out.”
Nearly yelling, Chambers referred to “that racist” — McPherson — and how his blog’s denigrating language impacts children.
“Whether you like it or not means nothing to me, because I don’t like the way my children are treated,” he said, recounting how he used to go to schools where black children were being beaten, and later got corporal punishment banned in schools. He said society is reaping what it sowed by mistreating those children.
“They don’t know anything else,” he said.
Chambers said his legislative office receptionist often gets calls from people who say profane, racist things — to the point where he tells her not to take any messages from anyone.
“And you all are so tender and sensitive, you couldn’t survive having to live like I live,” he said. “While I’m fighting on this floor, I have other things on my mind.”
Patrick Jones, an associate professor of African American Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who has called on McPherson to resign, declined to comment on Chambers’ statements Friday.
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- Nebraska education board member’s blog has long been inflammatory
- New debate in Pat McPherson saga
- Nebraska education board refuses to resign over racist blog
- Pat McPherson case spotlights gap in state’s recall laws
- State senator says all white people are racist and ‘polluted’ his blood
- Residents trade shots over ed official’s blog