Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is facing scrutiny after he appeared in a promotional video in which he seemed surprised that black schoolchildren play chess.
In the video, which featured a chess club at a predominantly black middle school in Louisville, Ky., Bevin says the club is “not something you necessarily would have thought of when you think of this section of town.”
“I’m going to go in and meet the members of the West Louisville Chess Club,” the governor said in the video released on Tuesday. “Not something you necessarily would have thought of when you think of this section of town.”
Enjoyed meeting the members of the West Louisville Chess Club at Nativity Academy at St. Boniface…Incredible kids with incredible minds. #WeAreKY pic.twitter.com/ePnrmkmR0g
— Governor Matt Bevin (@GovMattBevin) July 10, 2018
Bevin recorded the brief introduction while visiting Nativity Academy. The school’s student body is 86 percent black and 1 percent white, according to education nonprofit, GreatSchools.org.
The video quickly drew blowback from some community leaders and members who described the governor’s comments as tone-deaf.
David James, a councilman representing District 6 in Louisville, told the Courier Journal that Bevin’s comments pointed to his deteriorating relationship with the black community in Kentucky.
“It was just an obvious move by the governor to take photos with the African-American community,” James told the publication. “To perpetuate a stereotype of the African-American community like that is unbelievable.”
Donovan Taylor, the secretary for the Chickasaw Neighborhood Association, also said he found the governor’s comments offensive.
“Bevin … Blacks in west Louisville enjoy chess, tennis, and many other activities not associated with guns and violence,” Taylor said. “To think less of West Louisville shows your thinking of the residents of the area.”
“It was a very funny video,” Taylor added. “It’s laughable to have such a small view of west Louisville. It is definitely offensive. If it’s not racist, it’s classist. It’s disturbing.”
Elizabeth Kuhn, the governor’s spokeswoman, said in a statement to ABC News that Bevin met with the chess club to “showcase an important program that is encouraging sportsmanship and character building among Kentucky’s youth.”
“It is disappointing that some are trying to shift the focus away from the incredible accomplishments of these talented kids,” Kuhn added.
According to the Courier Journal, Bevin has not yet revealed whether he plans to run for reelection in November 2019.