Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, announced his bid for the presidency on Wednesday, and almost immediately Twitter lit up with the hashtag "#BobbyJindalsSoWhite," where critics of the governor mocked his bid to represent diversity on behalf of the Republican party. Jindal is the first non-white governor to represent the state of Louisiana, and among only a handful of non-white politicians to run for president. Jindal is an Indian-American who was born in Baton Rouge, La. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Punjab, India, six months before he was born.
In his campaign announcement, Jindal stated that he is "tanned, rested and ready." Critics say his use of the word "tanned" reads as euphemistic, as though he were playing down his race in order to appeal to conservative voters. The outrage was strongest in India, where Jindal's political maneuvers have garnered great interest on behalf of a nation.
In his campaign speech Wednesday, Jindal stated, "We are not Indian Americans, Irish Americans, African Americans, rich Americans or poor Americans. We are all Americans." While the message means to convey notes of harmony, the voices on social paint a different picture. More than just jokes, the tweets portray a politician who ignores his status as a minority American - and more than that, one who might not be sympathetic to the needs of disenfranchised communities.
One thing is certain: the negative press seems to be receiving equal billing with Jindal's announcement to run, demonstrating the power social has in developing formative associations that shape reputations in the long run.