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Blacks Did Not Vote Against Their Self-Interest

(The Root) — I genuinely try to listen to black Republicans when they're explaining why blacks should want to be a part of the Grand Old Party. The problem with that is then I end up hearing things like this.

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The Rev. C.L. Bryant:
Yes, indeed I do. in fact, there is a culture of dependency that has been groomed by the Democrat Party over a period of 50 years. A distortion of history even over that 50-year period of time. Many black people have forgotten that it was Democrats who stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama to block black students from going there. It was Democrats who Eisenhower had to send the National Guard out to Arkansas in order that the Little Rock Nine could go to school in Little Rock. And the history of black people in this country, even the political history, those who were first elected to Congress and to Senate were all Republicans. And the first Democrat elected to the Senate in the United States was Carol Moseley Braun, and the second one was Barack Obama. The history of the Republican Party has always been that of freedom for all people …


Bryant, a former president of the Garland, Texas, chapter of the NAACP, speaks with such confidence, doesn't he? He doesn't even hint at the idea that maybe he's overstepping or greatly generalizing. He effortlessly throws out the tired narrative of "It's the Democratic Party that's actually racist!" And while no one argues that the examples he has given were factual, his viewpoint is so heavily skewed and obviously framed that I'm not even sure how he can sit there so calmly serving up this nonsense.

First of all, the Republican Party wasn't "pro-Negro" while Democrats hunted us with pitchforks. No one was "for" blacks. Neither political party was so loving and caring — nor did they simply want what was best for the black community. Black Democrats aren't confused on that particular fact.


But what's missing from this lovely framing of history in order to make a flawed point is that it cherry-picks history, and things have changed a great deal. What about the Lily-White Movement? What about the Southern strategy? What about the Republican primaries just early this year? What about Mitt Romney at the NAACP conference?

I'm not someone who is against conservative ideology for the sake of being against it. I, and I'm sure many other blacks, can even agree with aspects of the conservative viewpoint. But contrary to the incredibly insulting premise that blacks voted against their interest by overwhelmingly supporting Barack Obama, many voted for who they thought would be best for them and their country.

Can anyone reasonably make the argument that the Republican Party showed itself to be a better alternative to President Obama? We should have voted for the dude who said "If they want free stuff, vote for the other guy"? The guy making Birther jokes? We were "emotional" because we rejected the party that even now says it doesn't care where new revenue comes from as it actively tries to make sure that revenue doesn't come from the top 2 percent?

And that's what's wrong with many black Republicans. They speak to the rest of the community as if they're so much smarter than we are. As if we lack the ability to make decisions and not be tricked by the Democrats. Democrats didn't demonize Republicans. Republicans just kept opening their mouths.


We haven't been tricked. We've been observant. 

Elon James White is a writer and satirist and host of the award-winning video and radio series This Week in Blackness. Listen Monday to Thursday at 1:30 p.m. EST at TWIB.FM and watch at TV.TWIB.ME/LIVE. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr.

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