Join Friends of Pambazuka

Subscribe for Free!

Fahamu Bulletin Archive

About our Programmes

Donate to Pambazuka News!

Follow Us

delicious bookmarks facebook twitter

Pambazuka News

Latest titles from Pambazuka Press

African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
Sylvia Tamale
A groundbreaking book, accessible but scholarly, by African activists. It uses research, life stories and artistic expression to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities
Buy now

Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

From Citizen to Refugee Horace Campbell
In this elegantly written and incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya.
Buy now

Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
A diverse collection of writing from across the continent exploring African LGBTI liberation: identity, tactics for activism, international solidarity, homophobia and global politics, religion and culture, and intersections with social justice movements. A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorising ourselves, making our ...more
Buy now

China and Angola

African Awakening A Marriage of Convenience?
Edited by Marcus Power, Ana Alves
This book focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China and shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.
Buy now

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

To Cook a ContinentWalter Rodney
Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
Buy now

Pambazuka News Broadcasts

Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

See the list of episodes.


This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.


The problem with Black Republicans

Jessica Ann Mitchell

2012-02-23, Issue 571

Bookmark and Share

Printer friendly version

cc F D T
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 holding their party accountable for racially divisive and hatefully charged rhetoric.

In the United States of America, it has become a norm in the Black community to vote for members of the Democratic Party, even if we don’t know exactly who the candidate is. This is a major issue because members of the Democratic Party do not 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 run 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 recurring 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 we 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 matters worse. Are we 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 and 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 cannot 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.


* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka NOW and help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT! Pambazuka Friends.
* Jessica Ann Mitchell- is the founder of You can visit her personal blog at She can be contacted at [email protected].
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

Readers' Comments

Let your voice be heard. Comment on this article.

↑ back to top

ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition

ISSN 1753-6847 Pambazuka News en Français

ISSN 1757-6504 Pambazuka News em Português

© 2009 Fahamu -