Checkmate: Kentucky governor's comments about chess team irk residents

Members of a chess club in Louisville were the subject of a video by the governor of Kentucky.
Caption
Members of a chess club in Louisville were the subject of a video by the governor of Kentucky.

Credit: AFP Contributor

Credit: AFP Contributor

Comments by the governor of Kentucky about a West Louisville chess club have some social media posters wishing he had kept his comments in check.

In a promotional video he tweeted, Gov. Matt Bevin said the club was "not something you necessarily would have thought of when you think of this section of town."

The West Louisville Chess Club "primarily targets" young children who live in the West End of Louisville, according to Lyndon Pryor of the Louisville Urban League. Most of the club members shown in the video were black.

Bevin published his video on Tuesday, the Courier Journal of Louisville reported.

The governor toured Nativity Academy, an independent private school.

“Gov. Bevin met with the West Louisville Chess Club to showcase an important program that is encouraging sportsmanship and character building among Kentucky’s youth,” Bevin’s spokeswoman, Elizabeth Kuhn, said in a statement. “It is disappointing that some are trying to shift the focus away from the incredible accomplishments of these talented kids.”

Councilman David James, who represents District 6 in Louisville, was present when Bevin filmed the promo. James told the Courier Journal that it is a sign of Bevin's deteriorating relationship with the state's black community.

"It was just an obvious move by the governor to take photos with the African-American community," James told the newspaper. "To perpetuate a stereotype of the African-American community like that is unbelievable."

Community leaders said the comments were offensive.

"Bevin … Blacks in West Louisville enjoy chess, tennis, and many other activities not associated with guns and violence," Donovan Taylor, the secretary for the Chickasaw Neighborhood Association said on Facebook. "To think less of West Louisville shows your thinking of the residents of the area."

"It was a very funny video," Taylor told the Courier Journal. "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."

Kentucky Sports Radio Host Matt Jones, who often dives into politics in his programming, took to Twitter to call out Bevin for the comment.

"That's a really tone-deaf, dumb intro by the Governor," Jones said on Twitter.

Other Twitter users also jumped in to call the governor's comments offensive.

"Ummmmm. … why exactly wouldn't you think that there would be a chess club or 'incredible young minds' in the West End of Louisville?" Twitter-user Erin Andando said. "Please do elaborate."

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