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'Both parties are mired in white supremacy,' says ex-candidate in Denver facing threats over tweet

Saira Rao leaving Denver for "a few weeks"
Posted at 4:51 PM, Jul 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-09 21:56:28-04

DENVER -- Saira Rao came up short in her bid to unseat Denver's longtime congresswoman in last month's primary election, but she's now getting death threats over a single tweet she posted against racism and white supremacy.

Rao, the daughter of Indian immigrants, is drawing the ire of white voters — from both political parties — who say she's the racist one, not them.

In a tweet last Thursday, Rao shared a New York Times op-ed from April titled "Should I Give Up On White People?" She also commented, "Short and long answer: YES."

Over the weekend, Breitbart ran a story about the tweet, which ushered in waves of angry messages and emails.

Rao did her first television interview with Contact7 Investigates reporter Ryan Luby on Monday.

Luby: "Do you hate white people?"

Rao: "No."

Luby: "Have you given up on white people?"

Rao: "I hate white supremacy. I do not hate white people."

She said she's given up on trying to convince white people — including those in both political parties — to stop white supremacy.

"White people have to dismantle it," Rao said. "Brown and black people cannot. It's not even a possibility. We've been trying forever."

She said she doesn't worry about her safety over the growing number of hateful messages, but worries about her children. She's leaving Denver on Tuesday for "a few weeks" and won't say where she's going.

"You can't escape white supremacy. I don't think moving somewhere permanently is going to change anything," Rao said. "But in this moment right now, I feel like we've gotten enough bad stuff our way that I don't feel safe for my kids right now."

Among the messages appearing on social media is one from a man who said, in part, "YOU are numb-minded racist, a leftist and anti-American."

Via email, someone said, in part, "You are an ungrateful racist. You and your family have a great life in the United States. Whites do not apologize for inventing the Western culture from which you now benefit. We fought and suffered for our great land - your family did not ... You make me sick and I'm a registered Democrat."

Rao said she started fighting against racial inequality long before she ran for office and said her tweet has nothing to do with losing the primary election against incumbent Rep. Diana DeGette in a nearly 70-30 split. But she said the election, in part, confirmed her views about white supremacy and racism.

"One thing I learned is I was absolutely right — that the Democratic Party is super racist, the Republicans haven't cornered the market on racism," Rao said. "I'm a University of Virginia grad, NYU law grad, former Wall Street lawyer, successful entrepreneur. Do you know how many people said to me, 'You're not qualified?' Really, what do I have to be? What makes someone qualified? You know what makes someone qualified? Being white."

Though she lost the election, she said her campaign started a movement to tackle racism and to rally support from disenfranchised voters.

"I think what Donald Trump has shown us is that the emperor has no clothes and what I wanted to do was elevate the conversation of anti-racism and equity and that's exactly what we did," Rao said.