The Problem With Black Republicans

It has become a norm in the Black community to vote democrat, even if we don’t know exactly who the candidate is.  This is a major issue because members of the Democratic Party don’t always implement policies that benefit the Black community. Voting for democrats blindly is very harmful to the democratic process. Nevertheless, the allegiance to the democrats continues. I have never professed to be a member of either party, however I recognize that I definitely have a preference for Democrats over Republicans as well.

Indeed this is a complex issue because the Black community is complex and not monolithic. However, upon a scan of Black community members, many would appear to side with Republicans on certain “conservative” issues. Still there is a major disconnect between the Republican Party and African American voters. As I watched Allen West’s interesting Black Republican panel on C-SPAN, an issue was raised by one of the attendees. How do they get more Black voters to understand and join the Republican party? This same concern was raised recently on a blog ran by Frances Rice, a co-founder of the National Black Republican Association. Rice asks, “But how do we win 25% of the black vote?”

Well, the problem lies in a horrible public relations track record on the part of the Republican Party when dealing with Black voters over the last few decades.

1. In the name of conservatism, many proposed policies promote individualistic approaches to education and economic growth. Consequently, unions, affirmative action and government assistance can be perceived as unnecessary handouts and are constantly under the strain of possible cuts by Republican politicians. This causes historically disadvantaged communities to continue existing as last on the totem pole with stifled opportunities for upward mobility. However, as many Black republicans point out, self-determination and perseverance play important roles as well. And I think for the most part, many would agree with the self-determination aspect of this argument. However, in a modern world, built and based on historic inequalities and disenfranchisement, sometimes self-determination is not enough to secure equal pay, equal rights and equal access to the pursuit of happiness. Until the Republican Party takes steps towards recognizing this, it is going to have a hard time amongst Black communities.

2. The Republican Party may have been the party of Frederick Douglas, but in 2012 the party is certainly hell bent on reasserting the good ole days.  Barack Obama stated in his recent State of the Union speech, ” I won’t go back! I won’t go back!” I was immediately reminded of the reoccurring statement amongst Republicans and Tea party members, ” Let’s take our country back!”  or “returning to the days of the patriots”. These statements always threw me off. Where are we taking America “back” to? These moments of patriotic nostalgia conjure up frightening images for many African Americans. For many of us “going back” carries negative imagery tied to racially intrinsic historic pains. Are going back to the days when Black was synonymous with “the help”? Newt Gingrich’s recent comment about having children serve as janitors only makes matter worse. Are going back to the days when we knew “our place”? Are we going back to the days when American was synonymous with White Anglo Saxon, Protestant, Heterosexual? Indeed, this rhetoric is off putting along with the disturbing imagery, which often accompanies it.

Juan Williams tried to get Newt Gingrich to answer for his racial/hate mongering statements and Williams was bombarded by heinous heckles during the South Carolina debate. Though Williams’, questions were valid and necessary, his Republican counterparts refused to acknowledge it.

Also, let us not forget presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s Black people or “Blah” people statement. “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn money, ” said Santorum. He later changed his tune and insisted that he said the word “Blah” instead of “Black”. This is a sad cause of nonsensical denial mixed with a blatant disregard for any ounce of respect towards African Americans. And yet, where was the outcry from well-known Black republicans?

Furthermore, the Obama is a “Black Monkey”, “Muslim, Communist”, “Welfare President” rhetoric & imagery has gone on long enough. Ever since Obama was elected president, there have been town-hall meetings with derogatory pictures of Obama positioned with a turban on his head and a bone through his nose, saying “go back to Africa”.

Even though much of this rhetoric may not come from Black Republicans, their association with the Republican Party makes matters worse when trying to connect with members of the Black community. Especially when they are trying to convince members of the Black community to join them.

If Black Republicans want more members of the Black community to learn about the benefits of their party, they are going to have to do a better job of openly and admittedly holding their party accountable for racially divisive and hatefully charged rhetoric. If they could somehow, get their party to see how off-putting this rhetoric is to potential members, huge strides could be made. However, at the moment, their counterparts appear to be having a good ole’ time basking in the warmth of racially charged rhetoric and hate mongering in order to secure votes among the waning population of America that still awaits the return of Mammy. And it is for this reason that many members of the Black community can not relate to the Republican Party. Thus, Black Republicans take notice. However, good your intentions maybe, the antics of your counterparts and your refusal combat them have ruined your opportunity to connect with the majority of the Black community.


Jessica Ann Mitchell

Jessica Ann Mitchell

Jessica Ann Mitchell has a M.S. in Public Relations and a M.A. in Pan-African Studies. Mitchell specializes in multicultural outreach and communications. She also writes on her personal blog at To reach JAM email her at

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19 thoughts on “The Problem With Black Republicans

  1. lol. Jam so true!!!! republicans will never get my vote when every time I turn around they are saying and doing something outrageous

  2. Again, not knowing and making a statement about racism being a Republican issue is just wrong! Think about where your freedom started, think about the party that in 1948 wanted to deny you the rights to vote, to live even to get an education. Neither party is a strong choice. Quit the “follow the Leader” routine and think, research and come to a real conclusion instead of being led! Black folks are just as likely to be a racist as White, Asian, Latin or others. Maybe even better we ned to control opur own destiny with our own political party based on inform decisions and realities about what and who we are. There are many good Black Republicans that resent the labels and the name calling that Black Democrats resort to! I am Black republican with my own mind and I decide who I vote for and not always along party lines because someone promised me a free ride! I heard a rumor a political obituary for Blackmen and Women too!

  3. Thank you for the great article, “The Problem With Black Republicans”. I am an independent, however, I study the person I plan on voting for. Until the republican party understands and realizes people in their party like Karl Rove and others, and the Tea Party’s rhetoric, encourages black people to run to the democratic party, we will never see large black voting blocks move to the Republican Party. I clearly remember the Tea Party holding a rally shortly after Barrak Obama was sworn in, carrying guns. Imagine if the Tea Party was all African Americans, holding a rally while President Bush was in office and carrying guns, we would have seen the National Guard dispatched and an outcry against such a militant act.

    Please understand, I do not particularly want to see policies for any one group, but policies that cover at least 90 percent of the American population that include provisions for the disadvantaged. For example, if taxes went down to zero, would that somehow move the disadvantaged up? I think not.

    Would love to see you write an article on, “Black Leaders” and where are they? I talking about any new ones, not Jesse Jackson, Rev Al and the like, but the new 21st century black leaders that are drum majors for African American issues.

    Thanks for your contributions.

  4. “If Black Republicans want more members of the Black community to learn about the benefits of their party, they are going to have to do a better job of openly and admittedly holding their party accountable for racially divisive and hatefully charged rhetoric.”

    To me, this statement says it all. Worst of all, some Black Republicans try to defend those statements. I think African Americans should be active in both parties in order to make sure that our needs are addressed from all sides.

  5. Great Article. Black republicans/conservatives in the public media rarely hesitate to criticize liberal black leadership for their shortcomings (real or imagined). Yet there is stone cold silence when it comes to white republican fear-mongering. Shame on them.

  6. I loved the article. Just to add to the topic a little… If you listen to most Republicans when they speak in public forums, they have no respect for our President or the office he holds. They call him “Obama” when they and have address previous presidents are “President” so and so. Their lack of showing even that much respect to President Obama is proof enough that they have no rspect for the African American community, our issues and only pander to us with thes so called “Black Republicans” to try and get votes. Just my two cents anyway

  7. This is an excellent article. You have raised so many important points, Jessica Ann.

    I particularly liked the part where you said:

    “If Black Republicans want more members of the Black community to learn about the benefits of their party, they are going to have to do a better job of openly and admittedly holding their party accountable for racially divisive and hatefully charged rhetoric.”

    I don’t think the problem is PR, however. The problem is we KNOW the Republicans’ track record.

    The Republican Party is the party of big business. Therefore, they have left many people out in the cold. African Americans, Latinos, blue collar workers of all racial and cultural backgrounds, unemployed people, all the people who lost their homes and their jobs in the mortgage mis-selling scandal and the subsequent financial meltdown.

    Yes, Black people do tend to favour self-sufficiency. But that does not mean we want to support a party that stands for exploitation.

    We need to learn from history. FDR was a Democrat who used Government funds to GET PEOPLE BACK TO WORK. This was despite the fact that he came from a wealth family, and is one reason why many Black people have voted Democrat ever since. (Not that the Democratic Party has an unblemished record.)

    He did NOT use government funds to bail out the bankers and financiers.

    I don’t see the Republicans stopping being the party of big business, which is why I , for one, will never vote Republican.

  8. I love this article, because of the willingness to address the topic. I was a Democrat for most of my life. /Support and/or voted for Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, and Clinton twice. I did this because I was supposed too. I did not know why or care, but I assumed that Republicans did not like me because I was black and being from the south, didn’t do anything but help this assumption. One day in 1998, I had a conversation with a republican about why he saw politics that way he did. I realized that he could articulate things like freedom, small government, self determination and individual responsibility in way that I had never heard before. I went home and decided to lay my philosophy and my beliefs against the democratic party platform. It was scary how far apart they were from one another. It took me about 3 years to come to grips with awakening (still voted for Gore in 2000). Right after 9-11, I changed my party affiliation and political issues are so clear to me now.

  9. Jessica,

    Well done! You wrote an informative article. Although you discussed the history of the Republican party, I do not vote because of the history of political parties. I try to keep an open mind and I have been listening carefully to both parties. If the Republican party weren’t so mean, I would probably be a Republican. I believe in independence and self-determination; however, I know that many people are struggling to achieve those qualities. Everyone is not equipped to start a start a business. Should people be punished because they cannot be an entrepreneur?

    I have been listening for the Republican party’s ideas or plan to balance the budget and all I hear is more tax cuts for the wealthy. Rich people SAID they were willing to pay higher taxes, so why are Republicans saying “No?” I think the party is stuck on stuck. If they could articulate a clear plan that does not disparage or target African-Americans, I would take them seriously. Thank you for a great article.

  10. This is a good article. The Republican party will have to change in fundamental ways in order to attract large numbers of African-Americans. I do not believe the desire for change is present in the core of the party and its supporters. This is evident to me based on the speakers participating in CPA this past weekend. White Nationalists? Rick Santorum? Newt Gingrich? As if these unfortunates were not enough, the organizers thought is necessary to import Daniel Hannan, a member of the British and EU Parliaments to tell the audience how to protect their legacy and heritage. I listened to his nearly half hour speech with genuine interest as he was making points that I agreed with in many cases – thinking – wow this guy is talking about an America I would like to see. However, as is the case with contemporary conservatives, if they talk long enough, they’ll inevitably say something offensive, insensitive, and altogether off-putting. Alas, so it was with Mr. Hannan. Listening to the speech was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Mr. Hannan did not disappoint, delivering with about 2 minutes left in his speech when he stumbled over the phrase “white anglosphere” and then finished his speech with “God Bless the Alliance of Free English-Speaking Nations”. Does it take a rocket scientist to understand why African Americans in their right mind are not lining up to join the party. Democrats are not that much better – but maybe that should be a topic for another article.

  11. You have hit the nail squarely on the head! I have always thought of myself as an independent voter and thinker. I yearn for candidates who speak the truth instead of distorted visions that create sound bites for the both the radical right and left. I seek a world where people base their opinions on careful evaluation of FACTS gathered from reliable objective sources rather than the lazy approach to listen to obviously self serving false prophets with a personal agenda. Those so called public servants who seek to profit from the lies and the distortions should soon understand that like the little pig, whose house is made or straw, there is no foundation upon which to stand. My problem with people, not just Black Republicans is the inability to stop listening to the rhetoric and the lack of their insistence for the real truths of our society.
    The news is no longer objective and free of opinion, maybe it never was. It appears to me that almost every reporter repeatedly fills each story with personal bias rather than simply reporting the events and letting the viewers come to their own opinion.
    In all the years that I grew up listening to Walter Cronkite, I never felt that he was a Democrat or a Republican. He never indicated his personal opinion in the way he covered the news. I miss that so much!

  12. Will there ever come a time when we, concern human beings, change the focus on those issues that continue to divide us economically and politically. I agree that for two long the Democratic party has dominated our thinking on how good they have been and can be for people of color. They have lost the focus of what builds a nation and the people they represents. The Republicans continue to believe that those that have most of the wealth will somehow by continuing to build their wealthy status, it will cause the rest of us to be better off. Both schools of thought have failed our society and have they have lost credibility. Since President Obama’s election both parties have forgotten about people and nation building. They promote and fight over what they believe is good for their party and personal interest. They have disrepected the African American population as well as most working class people. They can’t accept that the color of the white house has changed as well as the thought process of the president and what government should do for the people who are powerless. This was a changed that average people voted for. They voted for the hope of our future and nation not the domination of the Republican or Democratic party. We are still responsible for the change that we all are thinking about and are hoping for. Less We Not Forget the basic truth that binds us together, and fight against the things that seperates us. The parties need to stop pulling people from left to right and stand together in the middle.

  13. Great article!! I have always said that it seems that some Black Republicans have to be ultra conservative to prove their Republicanism. This is the biggest problematic thing with most black Republicans


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