A week ago, Lamar White Jr. tweeted out a picture of what he thought was the official portrait of Louisiana Governor and presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal.
Reaction to the portrait of the pale looking Jindal prompted countless jokes that Jindal was trying to look white. It’s a notion that perhaps was propelled by Jindal’s recent remarks that he didn’t believe in hyphenated Americans.
“My dad and mom told my brother and me that we came to America to be Americans. Not Indian Americans, simply Americans,” he said last month.
Now White’s tweet and subsequent reaction to it has prompted a response from the Governor himself.
— Lamar White, Jr (@CenLamar) February 3, 2015
“I’m not white,” Jindal joked in response to a question asking about the portrait. In a story reported by the Capitol Hill publication
The Hill he said “I will give you permission in every picture you run of me…you have my permission to put in a disclaimer that I’m not white.”
According to Jindal’s press office, the picture White tweeted out is not the Governor’s official portrait, but one loaned from a constituent.
Nonetheless, the controversy has started a serious debate about Jindal’s views on skin color. One interesting commentary was published in the South Asia Mail.
“Jindal’s skin tone in his portraits matters especially because it suggests that the “official” image of an American political leader is someone that is not of South Asian or Asian race. The touchy question of skin color remains regardless of the portrait maker’s intent, because throughout history, and arguably still today, differences in skin tone, such as those between Jindal’s portraits and Jindal himself—even if just a few shades—were specifically used to construct race and Americanness.”
You can read the blog in its entirety in South Asia Mail.