Christa - posted on 11/13/2009 ( 32 moms have responded )
By Roland S. Martin
CNN Political Contributor
Editor's note: A nationally syndicated columnist, Roland S. Martin is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith" and "Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America." Visit his Web site for more information.
If you ask someone who is white to tell you the political party of someone who is pro-life, against gay marriage, believes in a smaller government, is a fiscal conservative and is a consistent critic of the policies of President Barack Obama, chances are they’ll say he’s a Republican.
If you ask someone who’s black and throw in that the individual you’re describing is also an African-American, chances are he’ll be called an Uncle Tom or a sellout.
Welcome to the world of Michael Steele and of other black Republicans.
When I told folks on Facebook and Twitter that I was interviewing Steele last week for my show on TV One Cable Network, “Washington Watch With Roland Martin,” the comments were not surprising. He was ripped, called every name in the book and castigated. Why? Largely because he’s a black Republican.
Yes, African-Americans are loyal to President Barack Obama and fiercely protective of him. Heck, when legendary radio show host Tom Joyner made some comments recently on his show that were perceived as critical of the president, folks called him an Uncle Tom. And Joyner was one of Obama’s biggest supporters doing the campaign!
There is little doubt that Republicans have had a sorry history with African-Americans for the last 41 years. The creation of the “Southern Strategy” by Richard Nixon, designed to exploit white fears about African-Americans in order to win at the ballot box delivered the South to the GOP well into this decade.
Republican attacks on social programs were viewed as being aimed at poor people and African-Americans in particular. The divisions were furthered amplified by Democrats, willing to use race to hype up black voter turnout in order to defeat Republicans.
If you want to get a reaction out of a largely black audience, tell them you’re a black Republican. Black members of the GOP are the butt of jokes from comedians, in TV shows and in movies. A member of al-Qaeda probably would give a black Republican a run for his money in terms of who is more disliked in the black community. The sense of being a turncoat against your race is pervasive.
And downright silly.
The reality is that no political party owns a bloc of voters. And just as I have criticized white Republicans for not reaching out and engaging African-Americans on issues they have in common, Democrats should not get a pass for their ability to depend on black voters while throwing them under the bus if needed.
As someone who has voted for Democrats, Republicans and independents, I’m focused on the issues. Last year, Michael Steele and I participated in a debate at Fayetteville State University, a historically black college. For the most part, we agreed on issues such as education, family, accountability of public servants and community service but disagreed on public policy positions that were more about being wedded to an ideology as opposed to personal principles.
We didn’t get mad or throw stuff at each other. We had a healthy debate on the issues and had a helluva time before the audience.
This is what we all should be able to strive for. Listening to one another and making a determination on what a person is saying, as opposed to depending on labels, is vital. So I would hope that black voters in Texas actually listen to Michael Williams, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, as he campaigns as a Republican for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. He deserves an audience, just like anyone else.
The day we end the name-calling and personal attacks will be a great one. Then we will have the chance to truly find out who a person is, rather than depending on silly labels that say nothing about who they are as a person and what they will be able to accomplish.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland S. Martin.
I think this is interesting. I think it shows that Obama probably got more support BECAUSE he's black then he did opposition because of it. I think it's sad that a member of the black community would feel such pressure to follow the "status quo". Thoughts??