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Keith Ellison

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Recently, Black Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison sat down with the Black host of a Black news outlet and compared Black (I suppose) Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to Stephen from the film Django Unchained. Mostly white conservatives responded to Ellison’s remarks by getting really angry and calling a Black man racist for what he said to a fellow Black man about another Black (kinda) man.

The response to Ellison saying what Black people have been saying about Thomas for at least a decade reminds me of two separate but related points: White conservatives only care about anti-Black racism when Black conservatives are being attacked, and as much as the Republican party covets the Black vote these days, white conservatives really don’t know Black people.

The first point is easily demonstrable.

As we previously noted, Right-wingers didn’t care when Arizona Congressman Eli Crane referred to Black Americans as “colored people” on the House floor, when Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul compared college basketball players to “rap stars” during an official hearing, or when Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville essentially defended white nationalists by claiming it was only an “opinion” that they are racist. (Tuberville also indirectly claimed that an attack on white nationalists is an attack on “most white people.” I’ll admit I wasn’t mad at that part.) But it goes far deeper than that.

When Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron wanted to share a stage with Eric Deters, who had just gone viral for a blatantly racist rant about there being too many Black people in TV commercials, only one white Republican advised Cameron against it. (The rest were probably too busy ordering “I Heart Deters” t-shirts on Amazon.) When Turning Point USA‘s mediocre white president, Charlie Kirk, implied that successful Black women who benefitted from affirmative action didn’t have the “brain processing power” that white people have, conservatives gleefully agreed with him.

Hell, let’s take it back further than the recent displays of white-conservative hypocrisy. When Dilbert creator Scott Adams advised white people to stay away from Black people, white conservatives defended him. When Joe Rogan repeatedly used the N-word, made stereotypical remarks about Africans, and referred to a Black neighborhood as the Planet of the Apes, not only did white conservatives around the country refuse to condemn him for it, they vehemently defended him, and prominent white conservatives like presidential candidates Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump argued that he shouldn’t have apologized for his explicitly racist comments. (Jason Whitlock and Candace Owens also defended Rogan, but if I were to refer to them as Uncle and Aunt Ruckus, I’d be racist, right?)

But I can go on for days, weeks, months, years and decades bringing up instances where white conservatives were indifferent at best and white supremacist cheerleaders at worst in response to the anti-Black racism of other white conservatives. Let’s move on to the next point.

White conservatives really don’t know Black people.

If they did, they’d know that when they saw the video footage of Ellison’s remarks, they might as well have been flies on the wall of Black barber shops, family rooms, cookouts, churches and lounges across America. Have they even seen Black Twitter?

Most of us think Clarence Thomas is a house slave.

What else should we call a man who used to be a civil rights activist but is now one of the main antagonists to every social justice movement ever? How should we feel about a man who admittedly benefitted from affirmative action only to help the Supreme Court strike it down?

Actually, here’s a better question: Why do white conservatives expect Black people to feel any different about Black conservatives than white conservatives feel about white liberals?

If I, as a Black man, find conservative ideology to be abhorrent (which I do) why shouldn’t I be contemptuous toward Black conservatives? Because support for prominent conservative Black people by the Black community seems to be the expectation of white conservatives. We’re literally judging Black right-wingers based on the content of their character, and white conservatives appear to expect us to support themjust because they’re Black.

They also appear to believe it’s “the left”which, in their minds, is comprised mostly of white liberals—are the ones making up Black people’s minds for us, as opposed to us already knowing what we think, want, need and experience.

Do y’all remember when Sen. Lindsey Graham thought Herschel Walker was going to be the Black Republican pied piper to lead Black children to the GOP, and he implied it was the reason Democrats (or “the left”) were “scared to death” of him? Graham’s attempt at using the Black collective as political pawns failed miserably when we overwhelmingly voted against Walker twice, which happened because, by and large, Black people already viewed Walker as the second coming of Bojangles Jesus. Graham would have predicted that outcome if he actually knew any Black people who weren’t permanent sunken place residents who have made careers out of tap-dancing for white nationalism.

So, basically, Republicans want the Black vote, but they don’t want Black opinions. And that’s what’s racist, not Ellison.


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