U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly says he is a person of color because he is white | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly says he is a person of color because he is white

The story swirling around Washington D.C. right now is about President Donald Trump and his racist tweets directed toward four progressive Democratic lawmakers, all women of color. But some of his allies, like U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler), are trying to take heat off the president, but causing controversies for themselves.

On Sunday, Trump claimed they came from other countries, despite three of them being born in the U.S. and the other a naturalized U.S. citizen, and told them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Those tweets have led to even more questionable comments from other government officials, including Kellyanne Conway asking a White House reporter his ethnicity, and U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-York) tweeting that he is “disappointed to find that many in the media are just awakening to the anti-American and anti-Semitic comments uttered consistently by some socialist leaders.”


Not to be outdone, is western Pennsylvania's own Kelly. Today, he shrugged off Trump’s remarks when he told a VICE News reporter that he is a person of color because he is white.

“You know, they talk about people of color. I'm a person of color. I'm white. I'm an Anglo Saxon. People say things all the time. But I don't get offended,” said Kelly to VICE News. “With a name like Mike Kelly you can’t be from any place else but Ireland.”


The term “person of color” has referred to non-white people throughout the entirety of American history, as white people have been the majority since Europeans colonized the original 13 colonies.

This isn't the first time Kelly has downplayed the experiences of people of color in America. In May 2018, Kelly interrupted U.S. Rep Maxine Waters (D-California) while she was discussing discrimination during a committee meeting.


"We're trying to make America great every day and every way and the best way to do that is to stop talking about discrimination and start talking about the nation,” said Kelly. “We're coming together as a people in spite of what you say."

Waters responded saying that Kelly was “outrageous” in thinking he knows “more about discrimination" than Waters, a Black woman who has faced vicious attacks from several conservatives, including comments on her appearance.

Daniel Smith Jr., who today announced he would be running against Kelly in Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District, criticized Kelly’s statement on Twitter.


Smith, who is openly gay, unsuccessfully ran against anti-LGBTQ state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) in 2018.

Kelly isn't the only Republican in the area to make insensitive comments regarding race in the aftermath of Trump's tweets. Former congressional candidate and state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) tweeted an odd reference to a 1960s TV show called the Mod Squad, which included a photoshopped image of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an afro.


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