“Sylvia Thompson,” a Snopes reader wrote by email in November 2017, “is supposedly a black conservative woman writer.”
Her name can be found on a variety of non-mainstream right-wing web sites, next to headlines such as “Liberal Progressivism’s Assault on Black America” and “No, America Should Not Have a Muslim President."
But Thompson’s columns can’t be found in mainstream newspapers, and she doesn’t have a Twitter account or a personal web site for her writings.
The reader continued: “Is this simply a matter of 'fake news' and a 'fake personality' hoax to rally right-wingers and racists to support 'her' supposed anti-black opinions?”
In August, Twitter suspended the account of ‘Nicole Mincey,’ a young, black female Trump-supporter, when — after she was retweeted by President Trump — web sleuths discovered that Mincey did not exist.
In this climate, it's perhaps inevitable that some might view with suspicion the authenticity of an older black woman popping up on right-wing web sites and offering views that are out of line with a majority of the black community.
For example, here's Thompson weighing in on the NFL national anthem protests:
...I am an American black citizen, and I have had it up to the gills with black people who embrace victimhood. I also highly resent my being expected to do the same in order to affirm my "blackness."
However, Sylvia Thompson is not the creation of the alt-right or the virtual alter ego of a real-life white man. She is a black conservative woman writer, and has been for years.
Born in Beaumont, Texas but now living in Spring Hill, Tennessee, 30 miles south of Nashville, Thompson has been plowing the same rhetorical furrow for more than a decade.
Readers of the Tennessean newspaper might be familiar with her letter-writing. Here she is in 2007, condemning what she calls the "homosexual agenda" (Thompson has elsewhere written ominously about "homofascism.")
Although feeling sympathy for people trapped in disordered lifestyles, the majority of Americans do not see foisting the acceptance of homosexuality on society as a wise, sane or healthy endeavor.
It's clear that she has carried this worldview through to her columns, which have appeared on Barb Wire (the web site founded by Christian conservative attorney and former boxer Matt Barber), Canada Free Press and Renew America, the web site launched by perennial Republican presidential candidate and broadcaster Alan Keyes.
We repeatedly attempted to contact Thompson, who did not get back to us. But we spoke to Carol Swain, a former Vanderbilt University political science and law professor, who has met Thompson, corresponded with her, and is familiar with her views and writing. When it was put to her that some people had questioned the authenticity of Thompson's identity in light of her conservative views, Swain — who is herself a black conservative woman — told us, "It's such a joke":
I don't believe there's one particular way to be black ... White America and white liberals ... are very misinformed if they believe that there aren't black conservatives out there, or that there are only a handful.