Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) said Tuesday that he was not offended by President Donald Trump telling four congresswomen of color to “go back” to the “crime infested places from which they came.” Kelly, who is white, argued he too is “a person of color.”
“They talk about people of color. I’m a person of color,” Kelly told Vice News. “I’m white. I’m an Anglo-Saxon. People say things all the time, but I don’t get offended.”
Almost all early sources of the term “person of color” refer to people of mixed African ancestry and later black people generally. While the exact definition of “person of color” has varied over time and place, in the U.S. today it typically refers to any person who is not white or of European descent.
The president’s tweets targeted Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) — progressive freshmen congresswomen who have been outspoken critics of Trump and his administration.
In the seemingly unprompted attack, Trump said the congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” before criticizing the U.S. Three of the four congresswomen were born in the U.S., while Omar immigrated from Somalia as a child.
In the wake of his comments, Democratic lawmakers publicly condemned the president. On Tuesday, the House passed a resolution officially denouncing Trump’s words as racist. The 240-187 vote was split along party lines, with only four Republicans voting with their Democratic colleagues.
Most GOP lawmakers have defended the president’s remarks or dodged questions about whether they were racist, but a few have spoken out against him. Kelly was not one of them.
“He does not offend me,” he said. “Are some people offended? I’m sure. But there’s people offended no matter what he says. If he says ‘good morning,’ they’re unhappy about it.”