Racial Allegations Color Hansen Clarke's Re-Election Bid

A robo-call is questioning the Detroit lawmaker's ethnicity.

Posted: 07/02/2012 01:07 PM EDT
Hanson Clarke faces racial tension in re-election bid.

Rep. Hanson Clarke's first bid for re-election to Congress has not been easy. After beating longtime Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, mother of disgraced former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2010, he's running for office in a district with new boundaries that will make it more challenging to win. Now with just a month to go before his Aug. 7 primary, Clarke's campaign says he's the victim of "racist rhetoric and race baiting by certain candidates" in the contest and is boycotting debates with his opponents, the Detroit Free Press reports.

According to the publication, the campaign wasn't specific but a radio host reported that a robo call was making the rounds claiming that the lawmaker isn't Black.

Clarke has said that he is the bi-racial offspring of an African-American mother and Indian father. Born Molik Hashim, in 1978 he decided to honor his mother by taking her maiden name and changing his name to Hansen Clarke. But on a copy of Thelma Hashim's death certificate obtained by the Free Press, her race is listed as white. In addition, the publication reports, at the lawmaker's request, the Thelma Clarke Organization for Youth Advancement, a nonprofit created in her honor, doesn't have any photos of her.

His four opponents have denied being behind the call. Former state representative Mary Waters, who is vying for the seat, says Clarke deserves to run for re-election but "you also have to be honest with those who elected you. That means if your ethnicity is in question then come forward to address it."


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