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While watching the Iowa caucus this past Tuesday and all the analysis that ensued, I had a random thought:  I wonder how many Black women live in that state?

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In a vastly conservative part of the country, how many Black women are Republicans and how many participated in the famed caucus?  As the focus now shifts to the New Hampshire primary, I realize more and more that my thoughts aren’t random at all; they are actually very relevant.  As the GOP attempt to “diversify” and branch out (so they say), whose issues are they really addressing?  Do we ever hear poor people’s concerns, women’s issues or young folks’ apprehensions ever answered?  The answer is a definite, “Hell, no!”  But, the real question is, who is to blame?

Growing up as a Black woman in a multicultural city, I was exposed to differing viewpoints and ideas at an early age. What I quickly grasped as a young kid is the notion of  “a closed mouth won’t get fed.”  If you don’t speak up, raise your concerns, let your voice be heard, nobody will pay attention and nothing will change.  Silently going along with the status quo and accepting unfair practices will get you nothing but more injustice and frustration.  You must make your issues a priority if you intend on seeing a different result going forward.  That’s a vital lesson that I’ve carried with me throughout my work at National Action Network and in my everyday life.  If you do not make others recognize and respect your grievances, things will remain the same forever.   And that’s precisely the concept we must remember when it comes to politics, the 2012 election, and our future.

Over the last several months, I carefully observed the Republican debates to see what these candidates were discussing and more importantly, whom they were addressing.  Never did I hear concern for the poor, or policies that would improve the lives of the impoverished.  Instead, what I consistently heard was talk of more tax breaks for the wealthy and improvements for big business.   Never was there a mention of African Americans (forget about Black women specifically) and the unjust hurdles facing us.  And never did I hear any concise solutions for this nation’s youth and how we could improve their possibility for a stable tomorrow.  After these past few months of campaigning, the GOP has made it abundantly clear that they are not concerned with my issues, nor that of the next generation.

Now as these candidates head to the next primary, we must ask ourselves, how can we make our issues a priority? How can we get them to acknowledge us and address our concerns in a respectful manner?  To all the Black Republicans out there, I say raise your voice and try to shed light on some of the Black communities’ issues.  That’s the only way we will truly see if all the talk of “inclusion” is a reality.  Let’s hold all of the contenders accountable and let’s watch if they really have the backbone to match their rhetoric.

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