In my last few blog posts, I’ve shared with our readers how I’ve struggled to articulate all I felt about November’s election. Of all the emotions I went through, from shock, disappointment…and a bit of anger, I think the overarching theme from my Monday morning armchair quarterbacking was one of a pervasive sense of, once again, sitting on the outside. Feeling like I didn’t belong on the inside, and after all Black Conservatives go through from our ethnic community, from the Left, and honestly, from some well-meaning but “wrong-headed” people on the Right, once again, a great opportunity was missed and I was left on the outside…..again.
Many in the Black Conservative movement immediately began venting: “leave the Party,” “Forget the GOP,” “Do our own thing…” and so it went. And, I can’t say their anger was misplaced. We’ve been offered lip service for many years, with nothing truly substantive or anything different from “business as usual” being offered to us.
If “Gafftastic Joe Biden” says something goofy like “they gonna put y’all back in chains!” well, then you will see Black Conservatives in droves on Fox, or various radio shows. Anything involving race, and there we are. But, I am more than race…and so are all the many brilliant Black Conservatives it has my privilege to interview over these past four years. We have conservatism running through our veins and it is the same as our conservative counterparts across all ethnic communities. We care about free markets, life, traditional marriage, and small government. But, it is rare to see us, other than on the sidelines, on TV or in the media. Why isn’t there someone of color on “The Five?” My thought in November — and still is — that until we are seamlessly integrated into conservative media, we will continue to be portrayed as “tokens.”
That’s not to say the mainstream media will embrace us. They won’t. But one of their favorite weapons will be neutralized: the race card. And with historical fact on our side, we can begin to provide solution-oriented approaches to the issues plaguing communities of color and society at large.
Thus, it was music to my ears to hear that Senator Rand Paul took the brave, gutsy and courageous step to speak before the students at Howard University, one of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU). After being told by Pat Buchanan that, “we go where the votes are” and essentially thumbing his (and the GOP “elite’s”) nose at the Black community, I applauded Senator Paul’s effort to put himself out there and begin engaging the African-American audience — a largely Democrat one at that! He didn’t begin with an “easy” foray, like speaking to Black Conservatives, he chose Howard and, while they may not have agreed with him, he was praised for reaching out.
When we interviewed him on the show a few weeks back, and he enthusiastically discussed his speech at Howard, we made a connection with his team, and in short order, worked out a plan to have the senator meet with a group of Black and other conservatives of color on his trip to CA.
The fundraiser was held last night at the mansion of the President of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of CA (FDFCA), Kevin McGary and his lovely wife, Tracy. The event was well attended, and afterward, though exhausted after a grueling day of travel and other appearances, the senator held a private meeting with the Executive Board of FDFCA, a board upon which I serve as Communications Director. In our 45 minute to one hour private meeting, I perceived the senator to be most sincere in his desire to truly engage communities of color. Not mere outreach, but full-on inclusivity and engagement at all levels. I cannot tell you what it meant for me to be a part of this meeting and hear the sincerity pour forth from this courageous man who has bucked the Establishment GOP at every turn!
Though the values of the Black community are more aligned with conservative principles (look at the traditional marriage vote, not once but twice in CA, and know that had to be Democrats of color voting their values), will this inclusivity mean Black folks will immediately jump ship and join the Republican party? No. It’s going to take time, effort and repeated attempts. The Obama administration has done nothing for the Black community: our schools are still in dire decline, unemployment is double and treble that of other communities, crime is still high and the abortion rate is astronomical. But change is hard for some people, and so it will be for the Black community to see that efforts to thwart the policies of this administration are not “racist” but an attempt to put forth real solutions, such as school choice, free market entrepreneurship and other ideas to benefit all communities, especially those of color.
Senator Paul stated that should he decide to seek the presidency in 2016, his will not be the traditional campaign. He will go to HBCUs and pulpits across our country. He is already making plans for follow-up actions on some of the concerns raised at last night’s meeting. I have full confidence he will follow through and that he will engage all Americans in his pursuit of policies that benefit us all.
Senator Paul is a gracious, sincere, down-to-earth family man. His wife, Kelly, and their youngest son also attended the event. Wherever this all leads, I am truly thankful for the opportunity to meet them and share my concerns with them…and feel like I have been heard.
Senator Paul has not formally declared his candidacy, and I do not know all who may enter the race, thus I cannot say who I will support. But I will say this publicly: I will enthusiastically continue to aid Senator Paul in his effort to reverse the negative perception of conservatives in communities of color and applaud him for every effort made to this end.
If nothing else, I feel that I am closer to the goal that was the genesis for what we have created here at African-American Conservatives, and that was to bridge the gap between communities of color and conservative principles.
Photo Credit: Linda Cano Avila (I took a picture of the picture at the event so I could post…and the picture is still at the venue)