It’s 2018, and racism is alive and well during this year's election cycle. Even though it should be widely understood blackface is something no one should ever, ever, ever do, a photo of South Carolinan Kershaw County Council candidate and lawyer Brant Tomlinson in blackface is making the rounds.
The prolifically shared photo of the aspiring politician was taken his junior year of college, at a 2008 Halloween party, the holiday people most often use as an excuse try on cultures as costumes, making caricatures of people of color they have no business portraying. Tomlinson and three others went with the Jamaican bobsled team from Cool Runnings. The horrifying history of blackface in this country is well known, but Tomlinson claims he had no ill intentions and opted not to delete the post during an earlier self-evaluation.
"I think that’s one thing wrong with politicians: They try to hide everything they do," Tomlinson told The State. "I never in a million years really thought that would get a negative connotation on it."
He blathered on: “I was asked recently, did I think it was funny, doing this? And I looked back, and I didn’t. We didn’t do that to try to make fun of anyone or try to hurt anyone or to put out a negative connotation about how we feel about anyone. We did it strictly for this Halloween party.”
He’s claiming the circulation of this photo is a smear campaign by one of his opponents, and if that’s the case it’s certainly working. Tomlinson shared a statement that doesn’t even offer an apology for his actions. He's running for a seat in Kershaw County District 5, but if this statement is a reflection on how he deals with racially sensitive issues, of which there are plenty in South Carolina, perhaps there is someone better out there for the job.
Read Tomlinson's statement below:
One of my opponents has apparently paid an antagonist to distribute a photograph in an effort to misrepresent my reputation.
If it is the photo that has been shown to me, it was taken during my junior year in college in 2008 at a Halloween party where we were dressed as the Jamaican Bobsled Team from the popular movie and one of my all-time favorite movies - Cool Runnings.
It is unfortunate that local candidates have now resorted to the same type of toxic smear campaigns that have infected the political discourse at state and national level. We will continue to focus on issues that address how we can provide a brighter future for families across Kershaw County.