Gary Shipman, a white candidate for North Carolina’s House, says he can effectively promote diversity because he’s lived it as “a member of the African American community.” Shipman, a Democrat, is challenging Republican incumbent Holly Grange in New Hanover County, reports the News Observer. He told a crowd in Wilmington that he has empowered members of the gay and Black communities through work as a lawyer and as a member of the Democratic Party. “I’m a member of the African American community,” he declared. “I’ve been where you are. I’ve been in your communities.” According to the News Observer, Shipman lives in a house valued at more than $600,000. He said he was responding to another candidate – Leslie Cohen – who said he has tried to amplify the voices of the Black community. “Inite me and I will come,” she said. “Invite me to your churches and community groups, to whatever events you have. And to the extent that I can use my privilege to raise you up, I will do so.” Shipman said, “People don’t have to invite me in to the African American community because I’m already a part of it.” In a letter to the News Observer, Shipman wrote: “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. 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. Like other members of my family, many members of the African-American community have called me in the middle of the night when someone was sick or to come help them or some other member of their family, and I’ve responded — because they are my family.” Shipman also wrote: “I don’t see color, I see people; and not because I’m running for the NC House either — I’ve talked the talk and walked the walk for many, many years.”.