The political world was introduced to Indiana lawmaker Vanessa Summers on March 24 when she told a Republican colleague that his 18-month-old son was racist. All the media attention that followed prompted her to cut her Facebook account. Prior to the radio silence, however, it was revealed that she also believes that fetuses still inside the womb can also be racist.
For those who aren’t up to speed, the Indy Star reported on the Indiana Democrat last Tuesday:
The already contentious debate over Indiana’s proposed “religious freedom” bill took a surreal twist Monday afternoon when — in the midst of discussion on the bill — a Democratic lawmaker said that a Republican lawmaker’s child was “scared” of her because she is black.
The comment by Rep. Vanessa Summers drew audible gasps, in no small part because the child — the son of Rep. Jud McMillin — is 18 months old.
“I told Jud McMillin I love his son, but he’s scared of me because of my color,” Summers told McMillin, who is white, during debate over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the House.
The comment was made as state representatives jousted over Indiana’s controversial religious liberty bill, which critics say is discriminatory towards gay and lesbian citizens.
Prior to locking down her Facebook account, Ms. Summers said:
“I’m not sure what all the fuss is about over this. I’ve known for years that babies can be racist. One time I put my hand on a constituent’s stomach and I could feel that fetus move. It was a racist movement — a quick jerk as if it believed that by getting too close to a black woman its stem cells might be altered. Perhaps it thought its pigmentation would darken. This may sound like a piece of satire, but I assure you that it is not. I would even go so far as to say that a white zygote is possible of racist behavior when observed under a microscope by a black scientist. Don’t quote me on that because I’m still looking into it.”
Audio of Ms. Summers’ initial racism charge has been made available by multiple news outlets, including The Daily Beast on March 27.
“He looked at me like I was a monster and turned around and cried. And I told him you need to introduce your child to some people that are dark-skinned so he will not be scared,” the Democrat told the Indy Star.
Rep. Jud McMillin denied the charge. “I can tell you that if he reacted the same way he reacts with anybody brand new, he buries his head in his dad’s shoulder. Whoever it is, it’s what he does. He’s an 18-month-old kid; he’s in a new environment up here in the place like the Statehouse but doesn’t know anybody. I honestly don’t remember anything out of the ordinary,” he told the Indy Star.
When asked about racist zygotes, he took a more diplomatic stance.
“If Ms. Summers believes that racist mitosis is possible, then I suppose that will have to be studied vigorously using the scientific method. Personally, I do not believe a fetus is capable of telegraphing such unacceptable behavior in the womb. I once heard Ms. Summers say, ‘If a fetus can feel pain, it can inflict pain — including racial injustice,’ but that seems like a stretch to me,” the Republican lawmaker wrote on Facebook March 28.
Calls to Ms. Summers’ office for comment on racist zygotes have been unsuccessful.