Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is often touted by Republicans as a shining example that the party dominated by older, white men is actually inclusive to less-old, less-white men. Jindal, who was born in Baton Rouge to parents who had immigrated from India, is even toying with a presidential bid.
Unfortunately, it appears that not everyone is exactly thrilled with his dark skin tone, and in a painting hanging up at the very front of his office, he is depicted… well… with a very pale complexion.
— Lamar White, Jr (@CenLamar) February 3, 2015
If you were a stranger who happened into the Jindal office, you may understandably assume that the Governor of Louisiana is Caucasian. You certainly would have no clue as to what Jindal actually looked like. If he passed you in the hall, you probably wouldn’t even think twice about it.
As a reference, Twitter user Logan Smith created a side-by-side of the real Jindal and the one portrayed in the painting.
— Logan Smith (@LoganJames) February 3, 2015
The good news: The artist got the crooked smile right. The bad: The dude in the portrait looks like what would happen if Sen. Paul Ryan and a loaf of wonderbread had a baby.
The awkwardness of the painting was first noted by Louisiana blogger Lamar White, Jr. (whom you may remember broke the story about disgraced House whip Steve Scalise and his affiliation with a white supremacist group), but it appears that his claim that this is the “official” portrait of Jindal is incorrect.
As noted by Jindal’s Chief of Staff, Kyle Plotkin, his official portrait, also hanging up in his office, is this one:
It’s not clear if that is much better. Sure, Jindal has a bit more color, but he looks sunburned, not ethnically Indian.
Sadly, Louisiana, a former slave-owning state, is still marred with some of the highest levels of racism in the United States. A study done by the University of Rochester in 2013 found that Louisiana and its neighboring states of Mississippi and Texas had the highest concentrations of racist attitudes in the country. In a more informal survey, The Atlantic found that during the 2012 election, Louisiana and Mississippi also featured the highest amount of racist tweets per capita and it wasn’t even close.
Four years later, an aspiring presidential candidate, even a Republican one, Jindal may be forgiven for perhaps wanting to de-emphasize his skin color, while leaning hard on the ultra-conservative ideologies he shares with many of his constituents.