In the ad, which premiered on YouTube on Sept. 6, Walker quotes Warnock, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden’s comments about race.
“Democrats use race to divide us,” the ad starts, following messaging Walker has echoed throughout his campaign.
The ad then quotes Abrams reference to Georgia’s voting bills as “a redux of Jim Crow in a suit and tie” and quotes Harris saying, “America has a long history of systemic racism.”
“America has a preexisting condition. It’s called racism,” Warnock is quoted in a snippet.
Walker then concludes, “Sen. Warnock believes America is a bad country full of racist people. I believe we’re a great country full of generous people. Warnock wants to divide us, and I want to bring us together.”
The opposing candidates are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to racism. Warnock stresses that it’s an issue that America has failed to address long before the racial awakening of 2020. Walker believes that colorblindness and a kumbaya mentality are the solutions.
Walker has sprinkled the colorblind rhetoric on the campaign trail to paint himself as a candidate who plans to unite the country across race lines and slammed the incumbent, a pastor at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s church, as divisive. Just like King, Warnock has used the pulpit to address racial issues, which has extended to the Senate floor.
Warnock’s quote from the new ad was pulled from a sermon at a New Baptist Covenant event in June 2017, before he was a senator. In the speech, Warnock bemoans the disproportionate incarceration of Black people.
“We’ve got a lot of problems, but I would not be a prophet if I did not tell you that racism is America’s preexisting condition. Like the insurance companies, nobody wants to go there,” Warnock said. “Nobody wants to cover it because we wonder what it would cost. We, the land of the free and the incarceration capital of the world.”
“In this land where we warehouse 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, although we are only five percent of the world, we are to ask ourselves what has it cost us not to cover it, not to face up to it, not to confront it, not to deal with it. Racism is America’s preexisting condition,” he continued.
Walker, in a hearing on reparations last year, said Black people should learn to forgive instead of pushing white guilt.
“We use Black power to create white guilt. My approach is biblical: How can I ask my heavenly father to forgive me if I can’t forgive my brother?” He said. “My religion teaches togetherness. Reparations teach separation.”
Walker told Axios in April that his parents “taught me when I was a little boy, there’s no color in right and wrong.”
In 1980, as a high school star football player, Walker reportedly declined an opportunity to speak during civil unrest between Black leaders and white supremacists in Wrightsville, Georgia.
Although, in his famous speech, King said he dreamt of a world where people are judged by their character and not their skin color, clinical psychologist Monnica Williams said colorblindness is also a way for white people to ignore cultural differences and racism. It is not enough to heal “racial wounds” and, in the end, “operates as racism,” Willams said.
Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University, said Walker’s new ad seems to target white voters, in particular “independents who are fatigued about talking about race.”
“If he hopes to over-perform the typical Republican candidate in the state amongst Black voters, this isn’t the ad to do it,” she told Axios. “Because most Blacks acknowledge racism, both structural and interpersonal.”