A white Republican lawmaker in South Carolina asked his black colleague last month whether he would prefer to be living in Africa – and then proceeded to lecture him about all the things he wouldn’t have today had his ancestors not been sold into slavery generations ago.
The cringeworthy exchange took place last month on Wake Up Carolina! – a popular talk radio show based in the Pee Dee region of the Palmetto State. The lawmaker posing this line of questioning? State representative Phillip Lowe of Florence, S.C. – a man who is no stranger to speaking before thinking. The lawmaker on the receiving end of the interrogatory? First-term state senator Mike Reichenbach, also of Florence.
“So I’ve got a question I don’t know … don’t answer if you don’t want to,” Lowe asked Reichenbach. “So if you could go back in time and you could say, alright, the first boat was headed over to Africa to bring slaves …”
“You asking me or you asking Reichenbach?” host Ken Ard interjected, seeking to clarify exactly where Lowe was going with his question.
“I’m asking Reichenbach,” Lowe responded, but he quickly added that “but anybody that wants to talk about it can call in to talk about it.”
Continuing with his question to Reichenbach, Lowe went back to discussing that “first boat headed over to Africa.”
“So if you could’ve stopped that – but knowing that your lineage, you’d be here somehow that your mom and pa would have somehow found each other … would you trade living in Africa, growing up in Africa, and say that small village in Africa instead … and you could stop slavery, but you would be living in Africa, now,?” he asked. “If it didn’t happen then you are where you’re at now. Slavery happened. Whatever happened. And your lineage happened and you are here where you are in Florence, South Carolina – what would you take, Africa or Florence?”
What in the world, right?
“I can understand the genesis of the question but it’s an impossible one to answer because I’ve never lived in that small village in Africa,” Reichenbach responded.
Lowe apparently wasn’t satisfied with that response, and proceeded to rattle off all the advantages the successful car dealer enjoys as an American citizen that he presumably wouldn’t enjoy in the proverbial small village.
“Well, you don’t have … a dealership,” Lowe responded. “You don’t have a house over here at the lake, everything changes and you’re living in Africa in a small village.”
Huh? Has Reichenbach not busted his ass to run one of the areas most successful dealerships?
Lowe proceeded to tell the senator “we’ve all been through stuff … terrible things you read about in the Bible” prior to restating his question about Reichenbach’s preferred geography.
“Would you be happier in Africa – or America?” he asked Reichenbach a second time.
To his credit, Reichenbach took the high road – equating the question to Jesus Christ asking his heavenly father in the Garden of Gethsemane whether the “cup” of his impending crucifixion could pass.
“It’d be a wonderful utopia to say like ‘well, it could be this or it could be that and they both turn out well, which one would you have?'” Reichenbach said. “But life isn’t that clean or linear or clinical.”
To listen to the entire exchange for yourself, please visit the Wake Up Carolina! website. The exchange between Lowe and Reichenbach referenced above is contained in the November 17, 2023 episode. It begins at the 1:19:45 mark.
Lowe, 64, has served in the S.C. House since 2007. Reichenbach, 51, was elected last March to fill the unexpired term of state senator Hugh Leatherman. Both lawmakers are members of the Republican party.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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