Blacks in America tend to reject Republicans; now Blacks in that party are rebuffing each other.
Raynard Jackson recently publicly aired grievances with the Republican National Committee (RNC), its outreach staff and their methods and practices. A Black Republican, Jackson has “had it” with certain factions in his party and will be “staying away” from this year’s Republicans’ Black History Month Honors, an awards program he started. The well-respected Black Press contributor says Blacks on Reince Priebus’ RNC staff “hijacked” a luncheon to recognize and pay homage to African-American Republicans of iconic status to a lightweight affair with little substance that will have little reverberation in Black communities.
Some Blacks may decry Jackson for airing the party’s dirty laundry, but it’s time that party examines its recent relationships with Blacks. The Republican Party once enjoyed nearly unanimous support among African-American voters; today, it barely maintains a foothold among Blacks. A long-time Washington insider, Jackson presents a Republican face and guise the RNC sorely needs to institute, substantive and race-conscious messaging that convinces Black Americans there are benefits that can accrue through joining their party. The leadership of the RNC has a long-standing lack of acquaintanceship with Blacks. Jackson is one of a few Republicans engaging in programs that show Black Americans how to benefit by being in their party and pursuing their policies.
No matter how poorly Democrats serve Blacks in politics and/or economics, Republicans make no headway among them. Many Blacks call Republicans “racist;” could it be that both White and Black Republicans suffer from a cultural bias and viewpoint with a preference for one culture that produces political ideology and notions regarding race, power and inequality? “Black Outreach” is not a new experience to the GOP; supposedly they’d been doing it for decades. As they experience loss after loss at the polls, the RNC persistently uses the same political retreads to position the party among African-Americans.
But, the Republicans have yet to clearly define their brand and “what it is” and “what it stands for.” Black voters share far more values with the Republican Party than they realize, and are on the same page on abortion, gay marriage, Christian values and supporting entrepreneurs. Republican Party people have to start working with Black Americans and using conservative principles to address issues impacting them nationally, and at local levels. Republicans should help in our cities and tackle issues among Blacks that the Democrats have avoided and ignored for decades. Republicans should think in terms of how to help Blacks. Republicans at national and local levels should introduce legislation advocating minority business development and resources to implement inner-city enterprise zones.
Priebus needs people like Jackson to help Republicans “grow and expand with different communities and groups.” To remain relevant in politics Republicans have to discard old practices and start making solid and lasting political inroads among African Americans. If they are going to target African Americans, they should speak out via Black Pages. To do that will require the RNC to provide “a clear positive message for people of color” with conviction. The Republicans need to expand who they are talking to in communities of color and eliminate “elitist” protocols and self-reinforcing image problems that make them, and their party, inhospitable to people of color. Jackson’s “honors” event was substantive for people who did things for, and within, Black communities. The RNC has to learn how to use the right people to communicate in the right way. To this point, the RNC has ignored Black newspapers in getting their message out. Priebus would do well reviving relationships with Jackson, as well as starting conversations with Black publishers to really reach Black voters.
It’s a shame Priebus & Company can’t see the subtle and substantive differences in Jackson’s program designs and those that the RNC has used over the decades. When it comes to Black outreach, RNC leadership continues doing what they’ve been doing among African Americans to get the results they’ve been getting. White or Black, the Republicans don’t go out, or know how, to compete for African-American votes.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America.”