Your Take: Why Black Folks Won't Drink the Tea (Party)

Even though some of the messengers are black, questionable rhetoric will continue to keep folks away, says this conservative columnist.

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It took one word for the point to hit home: "Hypnotized." Hearing that word from a black Tea Party patriot during a recent television interview demonstrated why so many black people want no parts of the Tea Party.

I have joined my fellow black conservatives in an effort to make black America politically diverse. We believe that the full liberation of black America will never come as long as the liberal trend in our community continues its 50-year run. However, I understand the common point made about the Tea Party Movement and its lack of diversity. Black conservatives today must avoid the pitfalls that the Republican Party has incurred for decades.

Unless we speak a language to black voters that denotes respect and commonality, black conservatives cannot effectively show that they understand the issues that face black America - and how Republican solutions make sense for black voters. If recent statements are any indication, the fringes of Black conservatism are merely repeating the mistakes of their conservative forerunners.

An example was the black Tea Party member talking on national television about how African Americans refused to engage the Tea Party because they were "hypnotized" by President Barack Obama. That kind of talk is not a language that will bring diversity to the movement.

It is equally ineffective for black conservatives to advocate initiatives that are recall 20th Jim Crow laws. One example was when some black conservatives supported Rep. Tom Tancredo's advocacy of literacy tests to "validate" American voters.  Both examples serve to turn off black voters - and much-needed independent voters - to the efforts of the Emerging Right.

Black voters have yet to hear a consistent message from the right that ties conservative solutions and principles to an increasingly left-leaning black America. Data suggests that African-Americans still affiliate with the center-right politically, but experiences show that as many black folks have benefitted from LBJ's "Great Society" of the 1960s, more of them have embraced a left-leaning, big-government philosophy.

Republican organizations such as the Frederick Douglass Foundation and strong Republican Congressional candidates such as Princella Smith in Arkansas and Ryan Frazier in Colorado actively challenge this stereotype. This is true particularly because their efforts focus on solutions that make sense for Americans while articulating how black America benefits directly as a result. They lead a movement of black Republicans that promises to bring black America back to its conservative roots.

When black Republicans and conservatives can better balance black pride and American leadership in the public forum, more of black America will listen to conservative ideas. From there, more black voters will vote Republican and, perhaps, move away from two current strongholds in black America: Democratic voting allegiance and urban blight.

It is hard enough for African-Americans to engage Tea Partiers when the rhetoric and language from the fringe elements of the movement promote "reloading" and "targeting" soon after violent incidents were associated with them in March. But what often keeps more diversity out of the movement are the fringe elements - within Black conservatism - denying African-American culture, African-American history, and African-American challenges with their rhetoric and language  while promoting conservative principles.