An apology for Clarissa Brooks

Shaun King
Jan 20 · 3 min read

Yesterday I reached out to Clarissa Brooks, a young organizer, to apologize to her directly. I would like an opportunity to do so face to face, as well, if she would consider it. In an attempt to correct what I felt was great harm caused by Ms. Brooks, I basically traded my hurt for hers. And that’s not OK. I do not wish to silence her, to silence Black women, or to silence the LBTQ community. I love and support these communities daily.

But my actions have clearly betrayed my heart this past week and I regret that tremendously. At the moment in which a single Black woman feels intimidated by my actions, I’ve clearly made a mistake. Period. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been wronged — I still have a responsibility to use my influence in a way that never causes harm.

Of course, my only original intent was to address a single very damaging false tweet from Ms. Brooks, but in doing so, she felt bullied by me and threatened by others. That’s a fail. I am thankful that Clarissa deleted the false tweet in question here, but this process has done more harm than good.

To be clear, I did not raise any money for Cyntoia Brown, as Ms. Brooks alleged, and I certainly was not holding on to any money for Cyntoia Brown, since I never raised it in the first place. I have also never received, held, touched, managed, or even had access to any money I’ve ever raised for families impacted by police brutality or racial violence. Not a single family on earth has ever said this or would ever say this. On March 1st, I am releasing a public accounting of every dollar I’ve ever raised for families in the Black Lives Matter Movement, along with statements of support from them clearly stating that I have never done such a thing.

Regardless of my intent, Clarissa sincerely felt bullied by my private outreach and public statements. No matter what led to my communication with Ms. Brooks, I do not want her to feel or be intimidated in any way. I also do not want her to be silenced.

Again, I would again like to sincerely apologize for the impact my outreach has had on her. It was not my intent to be abrasive or overly aggressive, but I was. And I sincerely regret that my actions to correct something harmful to me have caused any additional harm or stress to her or anyone else — including other men and women who posted other false allegations. The best apologies are changed actions. I will change my actions moving forward.

We must find a way to address false allegations without causing harm — and I want to be a part of that process. I am working directly with respected movement leaders to figure out a community based way to solve any future conflicts of this kind before they escalate.

We are living in tumultuous times and our focus should be fighting against the oppression and injustices that are against us — not battling those who are on the same side of seeking justice and peace.

Shaun King

Written by

Husband, Father, Journalist, Activist.

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