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“Blackface” Drama Hits South Carolina

Interim solicitor under fire for allegedly racist remarks …

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This news outlet rolled our eyes a bit last month when NBC fired host Megyn Kelly over her defense of blackface as a Halloween costume.

“When I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as like a character,” Kelly said.

The politically correct legions immediately rallied … demanding Kelly be fired.

The 47-year-old made an emotional apology on the air in an effort to save her job … but it was to no avail.

We didn’t think Kelly should have been terminated over the controversy (especially seeing as NBC was forced to eat the full $69 million it owed on her contract).  Of course that decision wasn’t up to us, it was up to NBC.

Meaning the marketplace of ideas worked precisely as it is intended to …

This week, the blackface saga is creating major buzz in South Carolina – specifically, in the office of interim S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Heather Weiss.  Controversially appointed to her position by S.C. governor Henry McMaster in mid-September, Weiss has been ruffling feathers a good bit in her abbreviated interim role – which will come to an end in January when solicitor-elect Byron Gipson takes office.

According to multiple sources within the fifth circuit office, the interim solicitor recently made racially insensitive comments to multiple black subordinates related to these two subjects – one about blackface and the other about a character in a popular Disney movie.

“She said to one member of the staff who is black and who walks with a cane that (the staffer) reminded her of a monkey,” one of our sources told us. “When the staffer asked ‘what are you talking about?’ she said ‘you know, the monkey with the cane in the movie.'”

Weiss, who is white, is said to have eventually recalled the name of the monkey (Rafiki) and the movie in which it appeared (Disney’s 1994 blockbuster, The Lion King).

“She did this twice,” our source said.

Two fifth circuit staffers independently confirmed the substance of both of these conversations, although there is some disagreement on the precise wording – and corresponding meaning.

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Another source in the office told us Weiss recently approached a black subordinate and began grilling the staffer – a female – over the Megyn Kelly drama.  Specifically, Weiss is said to have asked the employee why it was considered offensive for a child to dress up as a black person and “put dark makeup on their face.”

When the employee attempted to explain why why such a costume would be offensive to a black person, Weiss is alleged to have “kept insisting that it wasn’t offensive,” reportedly adding that “it wasn’t fair that her child couldn’t dress up like Michelle Obama or Diana Ross” when black children were allowed to “dress up like a princess and put white makeup” on their faces.

“She made all of these comments in the open,” the source told us.

Obviously there are multiple sides to every story and – to her credit – Weiss did not shy away from addressing the issue when we reached out to her and extended an opportunity to share her perspective.  In fact, we found Weiss’ willingness to speak to us all the more commendable given this news outlet’s prior criticism of her brief tenure in office.

According to the interim solicitor, both of the individuals with whom she carried on these conversations are longtime associates.  As for the substance of the conversations, Weiss said they were “taken out of context.”

“I did not see the Megyn Kelly show or even the story on it,” she told us.  “I heard a bit about it on the radio and came in and asked an African-American friend of mine who works in the office if I was understanding what I heard and clarifying for myself what the issue was.”

As to The Lion King reference, “the second comment was to a very close friend who I look up to.”

“Due to the fact she had a distinctive walking stick I saw her present herself as if she was going to share her wisdom and referred to her as the wisest character in the Lion King who also carries a walking stick,” Weiss explained.  “I realize now that it was overheard and taken out of context.”

“I was talking with my friends who know me and my intent,” she continued.  “This has been an eye opening experience and I realize that sometimes people hear things and infer a different meaning.  I wish they had addressed any concerns with me or the people I was talking to directly.”

Weiss permitted her employees to speak freely with this news site about the controversy, but no one was willing to go on the record with us one way or the other.

“I’m just going to wait her out,” one employee told us, referring to the fact Weiss has only a month-and-a-half left on the job before she presumably returns to her former position as a deputy in the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson.

This news outlet is not going to excoriate Weiss for these comments.  We believe they clearly constituted bad judgment on the part of someone running a government office, but given the short-term nature of her tenure – and the lack of clarity regarding her intentions – we are not going to blow this story up anymore than we already have.

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