I don’t know if this was a surprise to anybody with a clear understanding of the black community’s relationship with the Republican Party. But in a speech at DePaul University in Chicago, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele admitted that for the past forty years the party of the conservatives had a southern style strategy that focused primarily on the needs of its white male constituents in the southern states while simultaneously alienating the African American community.
About forty years ago America was in the infancy of the civil rights movement. This is about the time people like Alabama Governor George Wallace was standing in the doorway of Alabama University and made it clear that racial segregation was a major entitlement for the white community. These are the same white people who spat on and harassed black people who sat at lunch carters demanding service. These are the same white people who threatened black students as they tried to attend Little Rock High School. These are the same white people who cheered and applauded when the news hit the airwaves the civil rights icon Dr. King was murdered as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. And these are the same people who wanted to use their political influence to keep the black community from becoming the true equal of the dominant community as much as possible.
Now, considering that this is the attitude of the pool of people serving as the party’s base, what incentive does a black person with strong affiliations to the black community have to support such a political agenda? It’s a fair bet that the great majority of the black people who call themselves Republicans have zero interest in addressing the issues pertinent to the black community. Yes, a nation wide unemployment rate approaching double digits might be pretty important to everyone, but the black community has been dealing with double digit unemployment rates for years. While the national rate might be somewhere in the ten percent range, the black community rate might be up in the sixteen percent range. But this issue of unemployment rates doesn’t register as a problem until it becomes a problem to the dominant community.
Some people will point a finger at Mr. Steele, not the middle one, and say that he’s off his rocker. The Republican Party is the party that freed the slaves after all. Any Republican affiliation with anybody who indulges in racism is totally coincidental and is often considered an anomaly to the larger party and any act of racism is an isolated incident from people who don’t have a single racist bone in their body. True, there might not be a single racist bone, but there are more than enough acts of racism by some high profile conservatives to call into question conservative’s sensitivity to matters of race.
More often than not conservatives will say that there’s absolutely nothing in their party’s agenda to prevent people from the black community from getting their fair share of the American dream. All black people have to do is work hard or get a quality education where they can compete fairly for various opportunities. But as soon as the black community asks for so much as a dime to make black community schools the equal of schools in the white community because the black community schools have been left to fall into such poor conditions, conservatives will say that black people need to stop asking for handouts and pull themselves up by their bootstrap. If black people would only learn to think outside the box and demonstrate some kind of personal responsibility and quit trying to appeal to the dominant community’s sense of social responsibility.
Many conservatives who heard Mr. Steele’s political assessment will simply dismiss him as irrelevant. Many will say that Mr. Steele is simply trying to inject some degree of race into the debate as to why so many of his party constituents see him as such an embarrassment to their cause. Many conservatives will say that their party is truly color blind and is far more effective at helping the black community through rough times with a social responsibility cheerfully referred to as tough love instead of the doting mother kind of love that retards personal growth. Funny how these people don’t have a problem being a doting mother to one of America’s corporate conglomerates that lobbies hard to get a multi billion dollar contract.
Many people will say that Mr. Steele missed the mark. They will say that if anything is holding the black community back it is black people’s insistence for undeserved handouts and special consideration. And that is one way to look at things. It could be called the conservative way of looking at things. But when we see high profile conservatives referring to black people with racially charged terms or descriptions, and so many conservatives continue to support such blatant disregard for the black community, it is a serious misrepresentation of facts to say that these attitudes play no roll in the subjugation and alienation of black people.
Whether or not people see Mr. Steele’s statement as accurate is moot. Whether we recognize it as true or not is little more than a matter of perception. Conservatives will say that there is no foundation. People in the black community will say it is about time somebody in the Republican Party admitted what has been going on for the past forty years or so. Do black people have any reason to vote for the Republican Party? Not really. As far as the majority of the black community thinks, the Republicans appear to be the worse of two evils.