When I was a little girl, sometimes a cousin of my father who looked a lot like him and was also named Clarence would appear on Howard University TV as a conservative pundit. Everytime he came on, my father would go through a number of emotions, mostly dark ones. This man was a great source of shame for the family. I never met him. I assume he’s dead now.

Anyway, this one time, my father’s evil twin was on the tv again and I don’t know what he said but my normally sunny, cheerful father turned beet red, his fists curled and I began to worry about the health of the tv, which was also where Sesame Street came from. This is how most black people feel about black conservatives.

I’ve seen Michael Steele’s elevation to chairman of the RNC hailed as “change”. I’m not so sure. And a nation of African-Americans joins me in one of the largest eyerolls in history (e.g. read here and here). We haven’t forgotten the “Southern Strategy” or David Duke or the McCain-Palin campaign or Katrina or (angry shudder) Clarence Thomas. See the only brand lower among black people than the GOP is any black person associating themselves with the GOP. Above watch as Condi Rice lies to Sherri on The View about Katrina, failing to mention that she was out shoe-shopping in New York as offers poured in from around the world to aid the black people dying in the Gulf Coast – those the administration, including Rice, couldn’t be bothered to lift a finger for. Rice said to Sherri literally: “The U.S. will do better next time.” Um…if you look carefully, you can see Sherri and Whoopi vomit a little in their mouths.

I don’t agree with everything in Sophia Nelson’s article at the Root, but I do agree with this:

the GOP’s real problem with black people is not so much that the white conservatives in the party do not reach out to blacks, but that so-called black conservatives do not do enough outreach to black voters.

Black conservatives as a group, particularly the prominent intellectuals, seem to go out of their way to attack the black community. Consider conservative author Star Parker’s intellectual meditations titled, Pimps, Whores, and Welfare Brats or Uncle Sam’s Plantation. Ouch!

Most black conservative commentators are largely viewed by blacks as opportunistic, attack dogs for the white conservative establishment. This perception is entirely unhelpful in a community that understands that its core interests are in equal access and opportunity, health care and community redevelopment.

In short, black conservatives often can’t get a hearing on important issues among blacks because they have positioned themselves as hostile to the interests of black people.

JJP Commenter GoldenAh had this to say:

I don’t see how that’s going to help this ancient, really old, extremely white (no black elected officials) party all that much. The GOP lost big, juicy southern states like Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. At this interesting rate of shrinkage, they may have Texas, the deep south, western states, and West Virginia left to play with.

Will the Repubs in those locales be happy with a black man as head of the RNC? Nope, can’t picture it.

Would be interesting if their efforts were sincere to expand their base. Either they grow, or they shrivel up and stay a wacky “minority” party.

And see, that’s the bone of the problem. Black people just don’t believe a word that black conservatives say. Our working assumption is that a black conservative is willing to align his or herself with a party that openly attacks black people for one or all of the following reasons:

  • self-hatred paired with hatred of all black people (Clarence Thomas, Ward Connerly)
  • mediocrity paired with overwhelming ambition (Clarence Thomas, Armstrong Williams)
  • cynicism and avarice paired with overwhelming ambition (Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Michael Steele)

We generally believe that black conservatives have chosen that path in order to take the fastest route they could find to fame, money and power. If it means selling the rest of us down river, so be it. Michael Steele is a classic case: he actually got paid to run for Lt Governor of Maryland by the Republican party. I know: quelle surprise!

Do you know how many people have whispered in my ear, licking their lips: “Can you imagine where our careers would be if we became Republicans?” It’s the siren lure that any black person interested in politics must ultimately confront and reject. The GOP has a high hurdle to leap if they think just elevating a paid shill like Steele to RNC — blatant, desperate tokenism — will impress us. But I don’t think we’re the target. The folks the GOP is trying to convince they’ve changed ain’t us. We know they know we know exactly what they think of us. No, this little ruse is designed to impress other white people.

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