Screenshot: America Rising (News & Observer)

WARNING: If you experience severe second-hand embarrassment, like if you can’t watch “The Office” without skipping the David Brent dance bit, you may want to close this tab right now.

Gary Shipman, a Democratic candidate for the North Carolina House, was asked at an event last weekend how he would promote diversity and inclusion. His response, as the The News & Observer reported on Wednesday: “I’m a member of the African-American community.”

Shipman, who is white, continued: “I’ve been where you are. I’ve been in your communities.”

Fuuuuuck! No!!! You can’t do that! You aren’t a member of a community just because you’ve “been in” a community! I have been to New York, but I’m not a New Yorker; I have been to Subway, yet I am not part of the Sandwich Artist community.

Incredibly, Shipman managed to make it worse, in emails with the newspaper about those remarks (emphasis added):

Reached Monday, Shipman said he understands why some might misconstrue what he said but clarified that he’s not black and never claimed to be. But he doubled down on the claim that he’s part of the black community, adding that “other members of the African-American community” see him that way too.

Shipman cited his work as an attorney, as a party official as well as personal relationships.

“I’ve eaten at many a fish fry held by my ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’ ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’ in that community; I’ve celebrated birthdays, births, marriages, graduations, Christmas, Thanksgiving, July 4, etc., with many members of the African-American community,” Shipman wrote in an email to The News & Observer.

“There are people within that community and elsewhere that refer to me (and treat me) like their ‘brother’ or ‘pops’ or ‘uncle’, and I refer to them (and treat them) like my ‘brothers’, ‘sisters’ and children,” he wrote.

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“Brother.” In quotes. Hello, Fellow Black Americans, I have eaten your, what is this, “fried” fish, and found it to be most enjoyable.

Look, I am white—I am English and white, which is arguably an even worse type of white—so I’m not going to say, white people, amirite? But I am going to say that I would rather spend a night of passion with Jeff Sessions than be so presumptuous as to ever claim membership of a racial community that I can literally never be a part of or fully understand, particularly one shaped by hundreds of years of violence, oppression, and exploitation, and one on whose backs the horrible ancestors of my racial cohort have profited. I’m sorry, Gary, we just don’t get to do that. It’s not for us. That’s one of the rules of being white. Don’t say you’re part of the black community, don’t sing along with the choruses of certain rap songs, and apologize for everything, all the time. Them’s the rules.