Sen. Tim Scott: 'I Heard So Often, You're Just Not Black Enough'

By Melanie Arter | November 6, 2014 | 11:52am EST

Rep. Tim Scott (R.-S.C.) (AP Photo)

( - Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) won a historic victory in Tuesday’s primary election, becoming the first black man elected to the Senate since Reconstruction, but according to him, race relations in this country are worse compared to several years ago.

“I probably tilt towards it’s a little worse than it was several years ago,” Scott told Fox News Channel on Wednesday when asked for his assessment of a an exit poll where only 20 percent of respondents said race relations have improved, 40 percent say it’s about the same, and 38 percent say it’s gotten worse.

Scott pointed to what some blacks say is not being “black enough.”

“Over the last couple of years, what I’ve seen happen – and it’s unfortunately happening by our own peers. When I was a high school kid, I heard so often, ‘You’re just not black enough.’ I’m not sure what that was supposed to mean, but simply said, too many kids today are facing a choice of dumbing down in order to fit in. I would say to them: Don’t fit in,” he said.

Scott pointed to another historic win – in Utah, former mayor Mia Love became the first black Republican female elected to the U.S. House. He said the election of other African American Republicans – Congressman-elect Will Hurd in Texas and newly elected Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford – should inspire blacks to feel okay with not fitting in.

“That’s one of the reasons why I started the conversation by simply saying this: Don’t fit in. Be you. Do the natural thing. Don’t do the normal thing. Do the natural thing, and if it’s in your heart to be inconsistent with what they say is the status quo, break it,” Scott said.

“And we should all be speaking out, because there shouldn’t be a single stereotypical definition of what it means to be black enough. We should all be looking first and foremost [at] how much of an American are you,” he added.

Still, Scott said the most progress on race in the past 50 years has been made in the south. That’s because, “voters now vote for people that think like them, have the same values that they do, no matter what they look like,” he said.

“This is really good news for all of us who are born and bred in the south,” Scott added.

In 2013, Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Scott to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Jim DeMint. On Tuesday, Scott won a special election to finish the final two years of DeMint’s second term.

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