"You mean I’m not white? I'm shocked at this revelation!"
Louisiana's GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal, of Indian heritage, was humorously reacting to questions at a Christian Science Monitor reporters' breakfast about a portrait of the governor hanging in the capitol in Baton Rouge, showing Jindal with a distinctly lighter skin tone than he actually has, USA Today reported.
Jindal's joking comment was a reference to a line from the late African-American comedian Richard Pryor in the 1989 movie, "See No Evil, Hear No Evil," in which Pryor plays a blind man, ABC News reported,
but Jindal quickly turned the levity into a serious comment about the left's attitude on race.
"I think the left is obsessed with race," Jindal, who is considering a run for the GOP nomination for president in 2016, said, USA Today reports.
"The dumbest thing we can do is try to divide people by the color of their skin. The left is devoid of ideas and this is, unfortunately, what they’ve resorted to — name calling, attacking, dividing people by the color of their skin. This is nonsense. We’re all Americans."
Jindal's chief of staff, Kyle Plotkin, went on Twitter to respond to another Twitter user who posted a copy of the distinctly white portrait of Jindal, saying that the blogger was "race-baiting."
Jindal said, "The painting in question is owned by a constituent. It will go back to the constituent," ABC noted.
The "official" state portrait of Jindal shows him with his more natural, darker complexion.
"I think the whole thing is silly," Jindal told the group, ABC News reported.
"You're more than welcome to put in every article about me that I'm not white. It really doesn't bother me," he said.
The flap comes at a racially tense time for Jindal, who was accused on MSNBC's "NOW with Alex Wagner" last month of "trying to scrub some of the brown off of his skin as he runs to the right in a Republican presidential exploratory bid," by Muslim human rights attorney Arsalan Iftikhar, over Jindal's comments that there are "no-go" areas in European cities where Muslims hold sway, the Washington Times reports.
MSNBC has since banned Iftikhar from the show, saying, "We found this guest’s comments offensive and unacceptable and we don’t plan on inviting him back."
Pressed further about the painting, Jindal responded, "I didn’t see the tweets," he said. "I have a day job to run. I haven’t met the artist. The painting will go back to her," the Daily Caller reported.
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