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Why did Gov. Ron DeSantis refer to Elon Musk as an ‘African American’?

The Florida Governor is tipped to run for President in 2024 and the Tesla CEO wrote on Twitter that he may offer his support to DeSantis’ campaign.

Gov. DeSantis refers to Elon Musk as an African American

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis raised eyebrows on Wednesday when he referred to Elon Musk as an African American, thanking him for his support for the Republican Party.

Musk had tweeted that he had voted for a GOP candidate for the first time (Mayra Flores in South Texas) and added that he predicts a “massive red wave in 2022.” He said that he was unsure who his pick for president in 2024 would be but that he was leaning towards DeSantis, who is rumoured to be considering a presidential run.

In response to that, DeSantis told reporters: “I’m focused on 2022… But with Elon Musk, what I would say is, I welcome support from African Americans, what can I say?”

Musk is from Pretoria, South Africa and grew up in the country during the period of apartheid. During this time there society was segregated by law with discriminatory policies imposed against non-white citizens.

What was Elon Musk’s childhood like in South Africa?

Despite spending most of his time in the business capital of Pretoria, Musk also lived in Johannesburg and Durban during his childhood. Numerically, White people were a minority in the country but they wielded almost all of the nation’s political, social and economic power.

The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953 allowed municipal sites like hospitals, schools and universities to be designated to a certain race, and Musk spent the vast majority of his childhood around only White people.

In an interview with some of Musk’s schoolmates, the New York Times outlines the anti-Black sentiment that his peers were surrounded with. The account details government propaganda being delivered to White neighbourhoods, while reports of atrocities against the Black majority were completely ignored.

Melanie Cheary, a classmate of Musk’s during his time at Bryanston High School admitted: “We were really clueless as white South African teenagers. Really clueless.”

After graduating from high school Musk moved to Canada for college and has rarely returned to South Africa since then. Many eyebrows were raised when DeSantis thanked him for his support as an ‘African American’ this week. Musk’s privileged upbringing in a wealthy White family in apartheid South Africa is rarely what is meant when the term is used in that context.


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