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I listened carefully to a black senior citizen who phoned into “Keeping it Real with Rev. Al Sharpton,” a national radio show where I serve as a co-host. The caller suggested that we ignore the racists in America because we give them too much attention and it’s a waste of our time.

When the caller hung up, I said I respectfully disagreed with her.

And I still do.

Years ago, a popular political pundit said: “The American people forget how quickly the American people forget.”

And this is why we can’t ignore bigotry and racially-inflammatory comments, especially when the racism and disrespect to President Barack Obama comes from a United States senator.

We must constantly remind African American people why it’s important to vote and why it’s crucial, now more than ever, to become involved in the political process.

Last month, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, told a racially-insensitive joke that insulted Obama — and black people on two continents –while attempting to poke fun at Obama’s struggling website launch for the Affordable Care Act.

“You may have noticed that all the Nigerian email scammers have become a lot less active lately,” Cruz told the audience. “They all have been hired to run the Obamacare website.”

By using “Nigerian” in his warped wisecrack, was Cruz deliberately trying to link Obama to African scammers because Obama’s father is African? Or was Cruz trying to fire up his radical conservative base by introducing Obama’s African roots to the discussion of Obamacare?

Cruz insists it was just a joke. But last week we learned the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the Cruz family.

A video surfaced recently that showed Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, a prominent pastor, telling a conservative Tea Party group that Obama should go “back to Chicago, back to Kenya.”

COMMENTARY: Why We Can’t Ignore Obama’s Bigoted Critics  was originally published on

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