In theory, the historic victories of Tim Scott (pictured right) and Mia Love (pictured) are worthy of celebration. After Sen. Jim DeMint resigned in November 2012, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley appointed Scott to the office – thus his win on Tuesday makes him not only the first Black senator elected by South Carolina, but the first Black politician to win stateside election in South Carolina since Reconstruction. And thanks to voters in Utah, Mia Love became the first Black Republican woman – as well as the first Haitian American – to be elected to Congress.
For a party who counts only a minuscule amount of Black people in its fold, to have two Black faces serve in two powerful positions sounds like progress for both the GOP and the rest of the country. However, as common as these remarks from Zora Neale Hurston may read, they are no less powerful or truthful: “All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.”
Fellow South Carolinian and Congressman James Clyburn understands this point, and like me, is not impressed with Scott’s victory. Speaking with the Washington Post, Clyburn explained, “If you call progress electing a person with the pigmentation that he has, who votes against the interest and aspirations of 95 percent of the Black people in South Carolina, then I guess that’s progress.”
This would include Scott openly speaking to the necessity of impeaching President Barack Obama; voting to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act; voting to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress; voting to delay funding a settlement between the United States and Black farmers who accused the federal government of refusing them loans because of their race; calling for the tightening of food stamp restrictions; and slicing the HIV/AIDS budget for South Carolina.
Scott also notoriously refused an invitation to join the Congressional Black Caucus, saying, “My campaign was never about race.” Like Scott, Mia Love also discounts the role of race in her win. Some people just like to pretend.
When asked why it took so long for Republicans to elect a Black woman by CNN’s John Berman, Love said:
“This has nothing do with race. Understand that Utahans have made a statement that they’re not interested in dividing Americans based on race or gender, that they want to make sure that they are electing people who are honest and who have integrity. That’s really what made history here. It’s that race, gender, had nothing to do with it, principles had everything to do with it.”
Love’s response is a cake full of lies topped with way too much disingenuous icing; it’s nasty, stale, and worth immediate trashing. Love and Scott managing to be Black Republicans who can win elections in 2014 despite a clear opposition to Black voters, Black political interests, and our first Black president has everything to do with race, only not in a way either would imagine.
Love and Scott can succeed as Black Republicans in Republican territory because they are Black faces to political views typically associated with White men.
Love of all people should know the role race plays in politics because she fell victim to it only two years ago when she was running in office. Both she and Scott choose to ignore race, though, because it is benefits them professionally. That doesn’t negate the role race plays, however, and their choice only confirms that they are two people who are willing to uphold a standard molded by White supremacy for the sake of self-interests. Congratulations to them on their victory, but forgive some of us for not being impressed with the soulless.
That said, this is not a direct shot at all Black Republicans. While I don’t agree with him politically, I respect General Colin Powell for being a Republican who does not pretend racism is not a problem — particularly within his own party. Powell was clear about this when he explained last year on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” “There’s also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party.” Powell is conservative, but not willfully obtuse like Love and Scott.
When there’s a Black Republican like Powell winning elections, perhaps we can talk about “progress.” But I’m not cheering the GOP presenting Black faces to policies that contribute to Black denigration. Not now, not ever.
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