Former pastor-turned-Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King painfully unveiled Thursday that the white man whose name appears on his birth certificate is not his biological father because he's the product of an affair between his mother and "a light-skinned black man."
Questions about King's racial identity exploded in the media this week after Breitbart News highlighted the name of the man listed on King's birth document as Jeffrey Wayne King — a white man. And it forced King to make his private life public in an op-ed for the Daily Kos on Thursday.
"The reports about my race, about my past, and about the pain I've endured are all lies. My mother is a senior citizen. I refuse to speak in detail about the nature of my mother's past, or her sexual partners, and I am gravely embarrassed to even be saying this now, but I have been told for most of my life that the white man on my birth certificate is not my biological father and that my actual biological father is a light-skinned black man," wrote King.
"My mother and I have discussed her affair. She was a young woman in a bad relationship and I have no judgment. This has been my lived reality for nearly 30 of my 35 years on Earth. I am not ashamed of it, or of who I am — never that — but I was advised by my pastor nearly 20 years ago that this was not a mess of my doing and it was not my responsibility to fix it," he continued.
"All of my siblings and I have different parents. I'm actually not even sure how many siblings I have. It is horrifying to me that my most personal information, for the most nefarious reasons, has been forced out into the open and that my private past and pain have been used as jokes and fodder to discredit me and the greater movement for justice in America. I resent that lies have been reported as truth and that the obviously racist intentions of these attacks have been consistently downplayed at my expense and that of my family," he added.
As for the man who is his biological father, King told The Washington Post that he never knew him and realized he was likely biracial at age 8. He identified as black publicly throughout high school, and said by the time he went to college he "had honestly moved on from even wanting to know the details of who [his mother] slept with in January of 1979."
The whole saga sparked a flurry of commentary from conservative bloggers who characterized King as Rachel Dolezal part two.
In a Facebook post during the firestorm, King's wife, Rai, who said she has known her husband since they were in high school, said he has never lied about his race "not once" and dismissed comparisons to Rachel Dolezal.
"His story is beautifully difficult, and painful. And I've actually encouraged him to tell it publicly because it is a unique expression of this country's sordid and ridiculous history with race. But it's his story to tell. On his own terms. When he's ready to tell it. Out of respect for his mother, and all involved, I hope he continues to let the talking heads talk while he does the real work of holding judicial systems accountable for the 742 women and men they've gunned down this year alone," she wrote.
"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," she added.