An exclusive interview with Nikki Haley’s ‘Black friends’

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.   

After taking heat for telling New Hampshire voters that “the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run, the freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do,” Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley received an official endorsement from the most famous Black person in American history. 

Despite the oft-repeated efforts to whitewash this country’s racial legacy, there is one famous Black historical figure who will never be forgotten. In civil rights lore, this world-renowned influencer has more clout than Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and all of the Kardashians combined. They are cited in conversations about forgiveness, grace and racial righteousness more than the biblical prophets and the Founding Fathers combined. 

The Black friend.

The Black friend is an American hero. It can instantaneously absolve someone of bigotry during “uncomfortable” conversations about race, discrimination or actual history. Simply dating a Black friend in college can wipe away a white woman’s anti-Blackness and justify a co-worker’s microaggression. 

While the notorious negro acquaintance has rarely been spotted in real life, presidential contender Nikki Haley recently summoned up this Black savior to explain away her inability to remember the reasons for America’s original white supremacist insurrection. According to Haley, she can’t be racist because, well … Let’s hear what she had to say:

“If you grow up in South Carolina, literally in second and third grade, you learn about slavery,” Haley explained at a CNN town hall in New Hampshire. “I had Black friends growing up. [Slavery] is a very talked-about thing.”

To test the veracity of Haley’s statement, theGrio wanted to delve deeper into Haley’s relationship with her African-American allies. We figured it would be easy because her memoir contains vague mentions of “friends” during her childhood years. But, just when we thought we had hit a dead end, we were contacted by a secret organization that assured us that they could locate Haley’s elusive colored compatriots on the condition that we read Haley’s memoir “Can’t Is Not an Option.”

The following is a transcript of the interview.

Vic T. Shuss: Hello! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview. Before we begin, I want to make sure you read the book we assigned.

TheGrio: Umm … yes. I read it. Kinda. I mean … sure.  Can we start by introducing yourselves and telling us how you know Nikki Haley?

Vic T. Shuss I’m Dr. Victor Tyrone Shuss, the president and founder of the Brotherhood of  Laughably Absurd Characters Knowingly Fabricated by Racists Idiots to Excuse, Normalize and Deflect Supremacy (BLACKFRIENDS). I’ve been studying Nikki Haley for years. 

Mae Dupp: I’m Mable Dupp, but everyone calls me Mae. I’m a professional kickball player and also a member of BLACKFRIENDS. I’ve known Nimarata since elementary school.

TheGrio: Can you explain precisely what BLACKFRIENDS is about?

Vic T. Shuss: Well, we’re a medical research group dedicated to shielding racists from criticism. We mostly hide in the shadows. But, whenever a person gets in a racial bind for doing or saying something stupid, we are summoned to show that racist people aren’t racist. We’re kinda like the Superfriends for people who “don’t see color.” 

Mae Dupp: That’s how I met Nikki during a kickball game. In fact, I’m the only Black childhood friend mentioned in her memoir.

TheGrio: Wait … are you the kickball girl? I think I’ve read about you in Haley’s memoir. Let me see if I can find the passage. Oh wait, here it is: 

Then one day I went out to play our usual game of kickball with my friends at recess and noticed that everyone was huddled up, staring at me. I walked over and noticed that they were divided into two groups, a black group and a white group. One of the kids in the black group was holding the ball. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Whatever this was, it wasn’t going to be good. I walked over and said, “Are we playing today?” And one girl said, “We are. You’re not.” 

I was stunned. “Why?” I asked. She replied, “You can play with us, but you have to pick a side. Are you white or are you black?” she replied. I was in a panic. Which side could I choose? What was I? Then I saw the solution: change the subject. I grabbed the ball from the girl and ran as fast as I could to the field. “I’m neither!” I yelled. “I’m brown!” Before I knew it, we were all playing kickball on the playground. I had dodged the issue once again. But something told me it wouldn’t be the last time I’d have to.

— Nikki Haley, “Can’t Is Not an Option: My American Story”

Mae Dupp: Yep, that’s me. But that whole thing was just a misunderstanding. Bamberg School District is majority Black, so the white kids were constantly whining about losing. We didn’t want to disrespect her by asking her to help the white kids out, but she literally took our ball and ran away. It was a different time back then, so we had never seen anyone act like a “Karen” before. But after we straightened everything out, we became good friends.

TheGrio: So what do you remember about Nikki as a child? 

Mae Dupp: We mostly played kickball at school. That’s the only time she was around Black people. Even though she lived in a majority-Black town, her parents lived on the white side of the tracks and were not allowed to entertain Black people in their home. She wrote about it in her memoir. 

TheGrio: How did you two become friends with Nikki, Mr. Shuss?

Vic T. Shuss: Slavery.

TheGrio: Slavery? How did slavery make you her friend?

Vic T. Shuss: Well, remember when Nikki said: “In South Carolina … in the second and third grade, you learn about slavery”? Well, that’s actually true. Again, we went to a majority-Black school district; they taught us about slavery in the second grade. We even learn about how America’s race-based, constitutional, perpetual form of chattel servitude was different from other forms of slavery throughout history. Then, the third-grade curriculum goes right up to the Civil War. See, when you learn about history truthfully, it doesn’t make you uncomfortable. She wasn’t lying about that.

TheGrio: Wow! So Nikki really did learn a lot about slavery! She wasn’t lying.

Vic T. Shuss: No, she didn’t know a damn thing about it.

TheGrio: But you just said …

Vic T. Shuss: I know what I just said! But if you read her memoir, you know that Nikki skipped the second grade. So when she got to the third grade, she had no idea what was going on! And, of course, her parents didn’t know a lot about U.S. history, so I had to tutor her!

TheGrio: So you taught her what you know about slavery? That’s very kind.

Vic T. Shuss: Well, no, I didn’t. I was gonna get around to it, but then she switched schools and went to that segregation academy, so history didn’t matter anymore.

TheGrio: Wait … what do you mean? History always matters. 

Mae Dupp: Not at Orangeburg Prep. It’s what you call a segregation academy. They were created after desegregation so that white kids wouldn’t have to go to school with Black kids. Orangeburg Prep used to give confederate flag lapel pins to their graduates, and the school was still flying the confederate flag when she attended! Are you sure you read the book?

TheGrio: That’s right. She left Bamberg County schools to attend Orangeburg Preparatory Academy! When we looked through her high school yearbook, we discovered that Orangeburg Prep did not have a single Black student in the entire “upper school.” 

Mae Dupp: Their kickball team sucked, too. 

Nikki Haley, asked what caused the Civil War, leaves out slavery. It’s not the first time

TheGrio: So if she went to a white, pro-confederate school, why did you want to be her friend?

Vic T. Shuss: Well, we were aware of Nikki’s disability, so I wanted to search for a possible cure.

Mae Dupp: We would never abandon someone with her impairment. Poor thing.

TheGrio: Wait? I didn’t know Nikki Haley had a disability.

Mae Dupp: Man, I don’t wanna call you a liar, but I’m starting to believe you didn’t read the book.

Vic T. Shuss: If you did, you’d clearly see that Nikki suffers from White Humans’ Inability To Even Notice Ethnicity or Skin Shades  (WHITENESS). Congenital whiteness is a mental disorder that makes people believe they “don’t see color” because they don’t have a racist bone in their body.  For years, we thought it only affected white people, but Nikki Haley is proof that anyone can become a victim of WHITENESS.

Mae Dupp: Yeah, that’s how I met Dr. Vic. He believed she was a special case until I told him that Nikki Haley was faking her WHITENESS. That’s why we did this interview. We came here to expose her lies.

TheGrio: What specific lies are you referring to?

Vic T. Shuss: Well, for someone who “doesn’t see race,” Nikki Haley sure plays the race card a lot. If you read her book — and you can stop lying, because I know you didn’t — in a state that’s 26% Black, Haley’s gubernatorial appointments were 7.7% Black and 92.3% white. 

Mae Dupp: She conveniently sees race when she wants to play up her ethnic and racial background. She thinks the subject is “divisive” but brags that her father taught at an HBCU. Her first words to me were, “I’m brown!” When she equivocated about removing the confederate flag from South Carolina’s statehouse during a meeting with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, she was taking the white side.

Vic T. Shuss: Nimarata Haley is a feckless, heartless, desperate politician whose only political move is to appeal to the worst parts of her party. 

Mae Dupp: She is a living, breathing dog whistle to white supremacy. Also, she is terrible at kickball.

TheGrio: Wait … I thought you guys said you were Nikki’s friends. Why would you say this kind of stuff about a friend?

Vic T. Shuss: I also said we were Black.  

Mae Dupp: The question is, why would someone who actually had Black friends say this kind of stuff about slavery, history or Black people in general? Black people are the reason Nikki Haley is even a presidential candidate. We fought for the immigration laws that brought her family to America. We built the institutions that fed her family. She was educated at a university built by leased Black labor on the literal graves of enslaved people. 

Vic T. Shuss: People lie all the time to get what they want. For instance, to get this interview, you claimed that you read Nikki Haley’s book.

theGrio: Good point. I apologize.

Vic T. Shuss: It’s OK. To be fair, you know as much about Nikki Haley’s history as Nikki Haley knows about yours. You know what that makes you?

TheGrio: I know. It makes me a liar.

Mae Dupp: I was gonna say, a BLACKFRIEND.

Michael Harriot is an economist, cultural critic and championship-level Spades player. His New York Times bestseller Black AF History: The Unwhitewashed Story of America is available everywhere books are sold.

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An opinion article criticizes Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley for her comments on the Civil War and her claim of having Black friends. The article includes a satirical interview with a fictional organization called BLACKFRIENDS, who debunk Haley’s claims and expose her lies about her childhood and her relationships with Black people. The interview reveals that Haley attended a pro-Confederate, segregation academy and had few interactions with Black people. The interviewees accuse Haley of using her supposed Black friends to deny racism and mask her political motivations. The article concludes with a note from the author, Michael Harriot, and criticizes Haley for her political maneuvers. Overall, the article presents a critical and satirical analysis of Haley’s claims about her relationships with Black people and her understanding of race relations in America.

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