Note: This open letter is in response to RNC Chairman, Michael Steele, who, in response to a question regarding more diversity within the RNC, made the remark, “Y’all come!” prompting someone to yell out, “I’ll bring the collard greens.” Mr. Steele’s response: “I’ve got the fried chicken and potato salad!”
Dear Mr. Steele,
I am a conservative of color deeply offended by your suggestion that we can woo more Blacks to the Right by offering “fried chicken and potato salad.” While I am sure you intended this as a light-hearted response (known in some circles as “a joke”), I believe the joke is on you.
This statement paints you exactly as your critics would have people believe of conservatives of color: that we are all “sell-outs” dancing to the “White man’s” piper. Should you actually speak with conservatives of color, as I have, you would find people such as Michael Williams of Texas who has incredible ideas for harnessing natural resources for his state – the savings thereby trickling down to the Black community – that he can discuss in this speeches, giving concrete examples of how the Conservative agenda directly benefits those of color (and all in his home state).
You might also consult Craig DeLuz, a young, conservative, Black man seeking political office in my uber-liberal home state of California. He is well known in his district and has been working with the faith-based community, and the youth in particular, to get the conservative message out by example. He is the furthest thing from an “Uncle Tom” (another unfortunate label conservatives of color often hear). He espouses traditional values, and in his hands-on work with his community, he shows how conservatism is better for all. He directly correlates statistics such as the abortion rate in the African-American community (1,452 per day), to show how our people are preyed upon by the Democratic Party – the largest funders of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. You could learn much from someone like Mr. DeLuz.
California, despite our grave liberal bias and tendency to vote Blue, passed Proposition 8. Did you ever stop to think how that actually happened? First it had to get on the ballot. Not once, but twice. And then get voted on, not once, but twice. People of color made that happen, Mr. Steele. People of color who might receive ballots marked “DEMOCRAT” but who are people of incredible faith, and vote their values and conscience. So, while you are waiting in line at Popeye’s or KFC for “the fixin’s” to woo us with, maybe you can think about how to bridge the disconnect between these voters of color and their stated political affiliation, and look at strategies to draw them in by exploring our common values.
Or, you could look at the unemployment rate, and see that though grim for many Americans, affects the Black community even more. You could have called out our Commander in Chief, who has a similar skin color, and ask him why in response to this question by a Black reporter:
Specifically, there are reports in The Washington Post that say that the African American unemployment rate will go to 20 percent by the end of this year. And then you had your Chairman of Economic Advisers say the target intervention may come next year if nothing changes. Why not target intervention now to stop the bloodletting in the black unemployment rate?
he answered thusly:
And the best thing that I can do for the African American community or the Latino community or the Asian community, whatever community, is to get the economy as a whole moving.
And, with all due respect, Mr. Steele, you made this “joke” to a reporter from the gay community. If we so differ in our agendas, and hope to show by example that our objections to the lifestyle are spiritual, and not “homophobic” or “bigoted,” don’t you think it prudent to veer away from stereotypical and prejudicial remarks?
What we need, Sir, is strong leadership. Someone who will discuss the issues, and not the menu. Someone who is not afraid to take on the stereotypes facing conservatives of color, and debunk them, not perpetuate them. Are you that person, Mr. Steele?
Co-Founder, African-American Conservatives