As racial tensions have ratcheted up in recent months, triggered by incidents of actual or perceived mistreatment of black men by law enforcement, fresh consideration has been afforded to what it means to be black in America. As a black Republican activist and office-holder, I retain a unique perspective. My existence, and the existence of others like me, makes one side of the debate uncomfortable. After all, it’s hard to maintain a stark whites-versus-blacks dichotomy in a world with black and biracial Republicans.
In my encounters with radical black activists, my skin color has commanded no respect. Blackness, it would seem, means how you think, not how you look. A new study seems to confirm this. The Washington Examiner reports:
The study… searched through the demographic details of 3,300 African-American voters in the 2010 election, when the GOP had nearly three dozen black House candidates running, part of the Republican Party’s push to attract minority voters.
But the authors, political scientists from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Chicago, found it didn’t help. “Republican efforts in recruiting black candidates were ultimately unsuccessful at mobilizing black voters,” the study said.
Since 1981, the GOP has focused on expanding the black vote beyond single digits — and mostly failed.
The study did find that having a black Republican in the race pushed more African-Americans to the polls, but mostly for Democrats. The highest turnout, 75 percent, occurred when both party candidates were black, followed by when only the Democrat was black, at 73 percent, and 62 percent when only the Republican was black.
That last bit seems particularly telling. The highest turnout among blacks occurs when both parties’ candidates are black, but benefits the Democrat, suggesting that black voters feel compelled to rebuke black Republicans running against black Democrats. The study concluded that “nothing the Republican Party does, even nominating African-American GOP candidates, works to win them over.”
The political ramifications of the study prove disturbing, but not as much as the cultural ramifications. Politically, the study suggests that Republicans might as well write off blacks as a potential constituency. Culturally, the study indicates that “being black” in the eyes of most African-Americans means holding a certain set of beliefs. Black is a worldview, not a skin color.
If that’s actually how most blacks view blackness, it tells us something significant about the ongoing race debate. If race is a worldview rather than a skin color, then racism is objecting to that worldview rather than objecting to skin color. This explains why anyone who rejects the Marxist undercurrent of the Black Lives Matter movement can expect to be labelled racist, even if they happen to be black.