UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon, MSNBC correspondent Joy Reid told colleague Richard Lui that she had spoken to King and that he is biracial (via Gawker):

The story essentially is that the two people who are listed on Shaun King’s birth certificate, his mom and his dad, his mother is his biological mother, the man listed on his birth certificate is not his biological father.

I think getting into further details about who his biological father is, unfairly drags his mother into a story—and she is not a public figure. This is a very private story between his mom, dad, and the person who is his biological father. But Shaun King, since he was about 8 or 9 years old, has known that his dad is not his biological father.

* * * The issue of whether Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King ever explicitly misrepresented himself about his racial background appears to hinge primarily upon one sentence in a 2012 Rebel Magazine article and CNN host Don Lemon’s account of an exchange he had with King. At least insofar as King’s public profile is concerned.

The sentence from the Rebel profile read: “The son of a Caucasian mother and an African-American father, King was born on Sept. 17, 1979, in Versailles, Ky., a town of 8,500 people.”

By Thursday, the mainstream media was in full-tilt mode about King, whose parents are apparently both white, being the “new Rachel Dolezal,” referencing the former NAACP executive from Washington who was outed as white earlier this year. The leads from coverage by New York Daily News and CNN invoked Dolezal’s name before considering the accuracy of that comparison.

The King story gathered steam in recent days after right-wing outlets The Daily Caller and Breitbart.com published “gotcha!” stories, casting doubt on King’s right to claim that he had been the victim of a hate crime at his Kentucky high school and questioning the legitimacy of his Oprah Winfrey-sponsored attendance at Atlanta’s historically black Morehouse College.

Then, on Wednesday, CNN’s Don Lemon reported that a “family member” of King’s had told the news anchor that the 35-year-old activist and online entrepeneur is white, and that the hate crime incident, in which King sustained injuries in an attack by other students, was racially motivated because King was “a white guy dating a black girl” (via Mediaite):

Lemon also revealed that he had a conversation with King about his racial identity. “Initially he did not answer but later referred to himself as biracial,” he said. “But then when I asked him if that’s what it shows on his birth certificate I did not hear back from him. No answer on that.”

Meanwhile, King insists he never lied about his race.

As to the issue of whether he was the target of a hate crime, King mentioned on Twitter a Facebook post in which a classmate from his Kentucky school supported his own account of the attack.

King also defended himself in a series of additional tweets, including this one, in which he articulated his racial identity in his own words: “If you have known me from when I was in elementary school at Huntertown Elementary until now, you’ve known me as black or bi-racial.”

King’s wife Rai chimed in to defend her husband in her own Facebook entry on Thursday:

Just know this, there is nothing fake about Shaun King. He’s no Rachel Dolezal. What’s white about him is white, and what’s Black about him is Black and always has been from the time he was a child. There’s no spray tan, no fake Black hairstyles, no attempt to make himself appear any more ethnic than he already does. Whatever you think you know about him, you don’t. Whatever you think has been uncovered, hasn’t. There is no part of his life that surprises me, his children, nor our closest family and friends. He has no secrets, but he does have a private life. And no amount of ignorance will force him to disclose the details of that private life until he’s ready. He doesn’t belong to you. And he owes nothing to anyone.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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