Dixon defended blackface, blasted hijabs on her TV show

By: - October 27, 2022 4:41 pm

Republican candidate Tudor Dixon does a TV interview after a debate with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on WXYZ Channel 7 at Oakland University in Rochester, Oct. 24, 2022 | Pool photo from Robin Buckson / The Detroit News

GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon defended blackface, called hijabs oppressive garments, and amplified racist remarks and conspiracy theories during her two years hosting a daily TV show on the far-right media network Real America’s Voice.

As Dixon tries to soften her image in the final days of her race against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Metro Times found numerous instances in which she used her platform to sow divisions, make insensitive comments, and spread misinformation about the 2020 election and COVID-19.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer does a TV interview after a debate with Republican challenger Tudor Dixon on WXYZ Channel 7 at Oakland University in Rochester, Oct. 24, 2022 | Pool photo from Robin Buckson / The Detroit News

Polls show that Dixon is narrowing Whitmer’s lead in the race as the West Michigan Republican tries to appeal to moderates and independents by toning down her rhetoric. But Dixon — who said her experience as a conservative commentator prepared her to run — has a history of using inflammatory rhetoric and giving voice to fringe characters in the pro-Trump MAGA movement.

Real America’s Voice is a far-right alternative to Fox News, providing a steady diet of Trump propaganda and conspiracy theories. The network also distributes Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast.

Dixon’s show ran from June 2019 to May 2021, the month she announced her gubernatorial campaign.

In one segment in June 2020, Dixon defended blackface after YouTube star Jenna Marbles apologized for doing an impression of rapper Nicki Minaj that involved darkening her skin with makeup.

“What is acting if you are not acting like someone else?” Dixon asked. “She was being funny.”

Dixon added, “It was clearly comedy, and so this is where we are right now. Comedians have to go by the wayside. We can no longer have comedy.”

Also in 2020, amid the protests for racial justice following George Floyd’s death by Minneapolis police, a number of companies reviewed their logos and branding. Mrs. Butterworth’s parent company Conagra Brands announced that it would review the shape of its syrup bottles, which have been criticized as an example of the “mammy” stereotype.

In a segment, Dixon imitated Mrs. Butterworth’s voice, saying, “So every Saturday my husband comes out of the pantry with the Mrs. Butterworth and says, ‘Hello girls, I’m thick and rich,’” Dixon said.

In the same segment, in discussing a similar move by the former Uncle Ben’s rice brand, Dixon’s co-host Matt Locke said, “You want to be really over the edge? What are all the Asians going to say about the rice going away? Gotta have some Uncle Ben’s!”

On a separate show, Dixon called hijabs “oppressive garments” and suggested Iranian women are being “murdered by their own family” for marrying without their consent. Many Muslim women say they are happy to wear a hijab, as it is a symbol of their faith.

On another show, Dixon repeated the racist claim that suggests Planned Parenthood aims to control the Black population.

“We have so many Black activists who are now coming out and saying Planned Parenthood puts 80% of their clinics into Black communities,” Dixon said. (In 2015, NPR reported that a Guttmacher Institute survey of all of the nearly 2,000 abortion clinics in the U.S. found that 60% were in majority-white neighborhoods.)

In another segment, Dixon agreed with Locke when he made an apparent joke about transgender people.

At campaign events in the last week, Dixon questioned the safety of COVID vaccines

“I feel Black today,” Locke said. “Can I not? Can I not be Black today? Can I not be a woman today? Can I be a chandelier? What do I feel like today? We’re warping the lines of reality.”

Dixon agreed, saying, “We keep bending to the mob.”

She added, “We cannot be held down by men who have decided to transition or think they are going to transition into womanhood because it’s different.”

On Dixon’s show, Locke also claimed that Democrats had constructed a “perfect storm,” saying the George Floyd protests and the COVID-19 pandemic were part of a complex scheme to beat former President Donald Trump. Locke defended Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis lawyers who brandished guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020.

“These people are lucky they didn’t show up at my house because there’ll be a lot of them laying on the ground,” Locke said. “I would be shooting first and asking questions later.”

Dixon responded, “This is what so many people are saying we are going toward a true civil war in this country.”

Maeve Coyle, a spokeswoman for Whitmer’s campaign, said Dixon’s comments during and after her media career underscore that she is a danger to Michigan.

“Tudor Dixon’s long record of racist and bigoted statements while pushing conspiracy theories and casting doubt on our democracy is dangerous,” Coyle told the Metro Times. “After spending years platforming anti-abortion activists and election deniers, Dixon is now trying to force her extreme agenda to ban abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the mother and undermine our elections on Michiganders.”

She added, “While Dixon has a well-documented history of embracing and making racist, offensive statements, Governor Whitmer has brought people together to make historic investments in public education, secure major increases in funding for law enforcement, strengthen Michigan’s infrastructure, and fight like hell to protect access to abortion and reproductive freedom.”

Dixon has continued to make controversial statements during her campaign.

In a speech at Oakland County Republican Party headquarters on Oct. 13, Dixon mocked Whitmer’s laugh, saying it sounded like a “snort” from Vice President Kamala Harris.

“When you are held accountable to the things that you’ve done … and all you can do is snort out a Kamala Harris-style laugh and say, ‘I don’t even know how to respond to that,’ then I guess that you’re not in the right job.”

Trump and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich have also mocked Harris’ laugh, drawing criticism from Black activists.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon speaks at a Macomb County Trump rally, Oct. 1, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

“If it weren’t her laugh, it’d be her smile or the way she dressed,” Arisha Hatch, vice president of Color of Change, a group that advocates for racial justice, told The Los Angeles Times. “It is just another conversation that demonstrates how difficult it is to be a woman-of-color leader in this country.”

On the campaign trail, Dixon perpetuated stereotypes of Asian-Americans and China, saying in January that “my Asian friends were the hardest workers in the class.”

She used xenophobic rhetoric to attack the deal with Chinese battery company Gotion High Tech, which brought $2.4 million in private investments and 2,350 jobs to Big Rapids in Michigan.

“We are truly bringing in a company that has its corporate ties in China,” Dixon said on Breitbart Radio. “This where where they come from. They’re a Chinese company. They incorporated a leg of their business into California. And they’re like, oh, this is now an American company. This is not an American company. This is a Chinese company. And you and I both know how China works.”

Last week, Dixon was featured at a fundraiser hosted by Carle Higbie, a disgraced right-wing activist who resigned from the Trump administration after making racist anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ+ statements.

Dixon’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

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Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist with the Detroit Metro Times. He operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker, Neavling was a five-year veteran of the Detroit Free Press, covering Detroit’s city hall.