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WisDems: What they’re saying: “Eric Hovde says he’s familiar with Black culture because he visited Africa and runs homeless shelters”

MADISON, Wis. — Yesterday, the Washington Post reported on comments from Eric Hovde made about the Black community during an interview with 101.7 The Truth radio on Juneteenth in Milwaukee. Hovde suggested he understands Black culture because he has spent time in Africa and runs “homeless shelters for abandoned kids” there. These comments come as Hovde faces increasing scrutiny for repeatedly insulting Wisconsinites, including Hovde blaming single mothers for societal problems and using racist stereotypes that demonize Black women.

“Another day, another example of Eric Hovde insulting the people of Wisconsin,” said Arik Wolk, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Rapid Response Director.

See below for what Wisconsinites are seeing and reading about Hovde’s insulting comments about the Black community:

Washington Post: GOP Senate candidate says he’s familiar with Black culture because he visited Africa and runs homeless shelters

  • Republican Eric Hovde, who is running for Senate in Wisconsin, said he is familiar with Black culture because he has spent “a lot of time” in Africa and because he runs “homeless shelters for abandoned kids.”
  • Host Ben Hooks asks Hovde if there’s anything he’s “going to take away from this that you didn’t know about Black culture before that, you know of today.”
  • “Look, I’ve spent a lot of time in Black culture,” Hovde replied. “I’ve spent a lot of time in places like Africa, because I have homeless shelters for abandoned kids and rescuing kids … out of the streets. And I’ve been involved in schooling and charter schools and things of that nature.”
  • During the interview, Hovde noted that that was the first time he participated in a Juneteenth celebration and acknowledged that he didn’t know much about the holiday — which has come to symbolize the end of slavery in the United States — until about a decade ago.

MSNBC: Senate hopeful Eric Hovde steps in it while talking Black culture

  • When one of Lowe’s co-hosts asked what knowledge about Black culture Hovde planned to take away from the event that he hadn’t already known, Hovde responded by listing his purported bona fides:
  • “Look, I’ve spent a lot of time in Black culture, and as Torey knows, I’ve spent a lot of time in places like Africa because I have homeless shelters for abandoned kids and rescuing kids out of the streets. And I’ve been involved in schooling — charter schools and things of that nature.”
  • These remarks were reductive and ignorant of the array of Black experiences. Visiting “places like Africa” doesn’t necessarily make one familiar with Black American culture (which is what was being celebrated at this Juneteenth event). And the implication that one understands Black culture by virtue of their work with homeless shelters, abandoned kids or charter schools reeks of stereotype and white paternalism.

WCPT: During Milwaukee’s Juneteenth celebration, he said in a radio interview that he understands Black culture because he has spent time in Africa and runs homeless shelters for abandoned kids there

  • This is the same Hovde who has blamed Black mothers for societal problems. He has said repeatedly that he—well essentially comes off as some kind of a white savior character. 
  • Saying you’ve spent time in homeless shelters in Africa doesn’t necessarily speak well of what you think you understand about Black culture in the United States.

Heartland Signal: Eric Hovde says he ‘spent a lot of time in Black culture,’ cites work on homeless shelters in Africa

  • During a radio interview last week, Wisconsin Republican Senate candidate Eric Hovde made a rapid series of gaffes, including saying he is involved in Black culture through running homeless shelters for abandoned African children.
  • While revealing that he was still learning about the history of slavery in Wisconsin and that he was celebrating Juneteenth as a holiday for the first time this year, Hovde pledged he would return for future celebrations. 
  • “Because I like party. I like dancing. I like food.”
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