The first black Miss Alabama, Kalyn Chapman James, was suspended from a Miami television station where she hosted a weekly art program after publicly calling the Dallas gunman a “martyr.” James filmed a tearful video clip from her car in a church parking lot admitting that she “doesn’t feel sad for the officers who lost their lives,” as she called gunman Micah Johnson a “martyr” and that she wasn’t surprised by the actions because “a lot of us feel the same way.” Though the beauty queen revealed that she knows her feelings “aren’t right,” she says she can’t help but feel the way she does, as she keeps mentally picturing “these young black men” being gunned down in their communities.
Kalyn Chapman James, the first black Miss Alabama and Top 10 contestant in the 1994 Miss America pageant, posted a video to her personal Facebook page following the Dallas shootings in which she revealed she was struggling with her feelings. James noted that she wanted to feel sad for the police officers killed, she “can’t help but feeling the shooter was a martyr.”
“I value human life. And I want to feel sad for them but I can’t help but feeling like the shooter was a martyr. I don’t want to feel this way and I know it’s not the right way to feel because nobody deserves to lose their lives. But I’m sick of this.”
Though James appears to be upset over her own feelings in the video, she concedes that many people probably feel the same way and are struggling with the conflict in their own head. She says she realizes that these cops had families and that people loved them and that they “didn’t deserve to die.” However, she says that “seeing these men — these black men — being gunned down in our community” is enough to make her unable to be surprised by the killing of officers and that she believes “a lot of us feel the same way.”
“And I know that those police officers had families and people who loved them and that they didn’t deserve to die but I’m so torn up in my heart about seeing these men — these black men — being gunned down in our community that I can’t help, I can’t help but feel like I wasn’t surprised by what the shooter did to those cops and I think a lot of us feel the same way.”
— Trussville Tribune (@TrussTribune) July 12, 2016
James comments immediately caused backlash with many noting that her views were insensitive during such a difficult and dividing time in our nation’s history. However, when reading James’ comments in their entirety, it seems that her views are more complex than initially noted by the media. The former Miss Alabama noted in a followup statement to AL.com that her anger resulted from the lack of conflict in other people’s minds regarding the death of black men.
“I went to church to address my feelings and deal with them from a perspective of forgiveness and love. Especially forgiving myself for feeling that way. I regret that any people lost their lives this week and I am saddened by all of the shootings that occurred. But, this is not about me. When reading about the killings of those black men, I was mortified by some of the comments about them. Many People were not conflicted at all about those deaths. Some were okay with this.”
— Kalyn James (@kalynjames) September 14, 2015
The Daily Mail report notes that James is also a television host for a weekly art program on Miami’s WPBT2 station and that following her controversial statement she was placed on paid administrative leave while the station investigated her statements further.
[Image via Twitter/Kalyn Chapman James]