Shannon Sharpe on Nikki Haley

Last week, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley twice argued the United States has “never been a racist country” after previously denying the cause of the American Civil War was tied to slavery. On a Sunday episode of his late-night sports talk show Nightcap, Shannon Sharpe responded sharply to Haley’s comments, pointing a finger directly at Haley’s family history to illustrate why she is wrong.

Haley’s parents immigrated to Canada and then South Carolina from Punjab, India, in the 1960s. Haley’s birth name was Nimarata Randhawa. She now goes by her middle name, Nikki, a Punjab word, and took her husband’s last name.

“Why’d you change your name? That’s not your given name,” Sharpe taunted. “Remember your father, he had to go teach at HBCU because where you came from and that name you had, you couldn’t teach at now (Predominantly White Institution). You better stop playing, Nikki. We pull receipts here.”

Haley’s father, Ajit Randhawa, taught at the HBCU Voorhees College when he arrived in the U.S.

Sharpe took issue with Haley attempting to shirk her background while also arguing race plays no factor in how people are treated in America in order to appeal to voters who might be ignorant or in denial of the role race plays in the country.

“There were people that came over, and they were able to drop their last name and get an American name,” Sharpe said. “Now you tell me what I can drop to not be Black.”

Sharpe then expanded his argument to include Black politicians like Tim Scott, another South Carolina mainstay who ran for the Republican presidential nomination this year.

“Sometimes you are trying to appease a base that’s never going to accept you,” Sharpe argued. “All you do is just give them validation because they say, ‘see that Black, how he says he’ll take on the Black establishment, he’ll take on the Black community.'”

In reality, Sharpe added, you just provide racists and bigots a symbol to latch onto to protect themselves.

“To know what they say about you when they go home and they close them doors. If you only knew,” Sharpe said. “You couldn’t go to Sammy Sosa’s doctor to make them think that you any other way.”

Sosa has visibly lighter skin than he did during his MLB career, but has denied any procedures to alter his appearance.

Sharpe is driving home the point that no matter how Haley, who is of South Asian descent, or a Black man like Scott or any other racial minority might try to appease white people in power, they cannot run away from their race. America was a colony of a Western imperialist nation, built into an economic power through slavery.

As a Black man who grew up poor in rural Georgia, Sharpe understands this as well as anyone. Like Charles Barkley recently, Sharpe clearly couldn’t take Haley spreading nonsense on a national stage, representing the South, any longer.

[Nightcap on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.