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The GOP and Identity Politics in the Black Community

The Republican Party continues to miss the mark when it comes to engaging the Black community.

For those Republicans, who fastidiously claim they don’t believe in “identity politics (IP),” let me give you a piece of advice: Stop It!

Politically speaking, IP is a campaign that is based on the particular needs of a specific group of people that will give them the rationale or incentive to vote for your candidate.

For example, a Republican candidate would campaign in the Black community on issues like entrepreneurship, civil rights, voting rights, etc.; whereas the same candidate might campaign in the Hispanic community on issues like entrepreneurship, immigration, and cultural assimilation.

Far too many Republicans assert that “we are all Americans and all want the same things: jobs, education, safe neighborhoods, etc.” This is all true, but a ridiculously bland message when it comes to outreach in the Black community.

While core messaging should be a constant for all candidates, the way you communicate that message has to be crafted based on the audience you are addressing.

In business, we call this market segmentation. This is most often done with the S-T-P approach; which is segmentation, targeting, and positioning. Once you segment the voters, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, etc., you then create a targeted campaign to speak directly to each individual group; finally, you position your messaging in a way that will resonate with that group.

McDonald’s is a classic example.

Their objective is to sell their Big Macs to the American people, so their TV commercials are all trying to convince the country to buy their product, but they also are smart enough to use IP or market segmentation to achieve their stated objective—selling more hamburgers.

So, it makes all the sense in the world for McDonald’s to use Black actors when advertising on BET and Hispanic actors when advertising on Univision. This is the commercial application of identity politics.
When have you ever seen men selling women undergarments in Victoria Secrets commercials? That’s right, you haven’t.

Republicans have become so data driven that they no longer have any vision.

It’s not enough for Republicans to reflexively spout out buzz words and phrases like: “We are the big tent party”; “the party of Abraham Lincoln”; “We believe in lower taxes, smaller government, more individual freedom,” yada, yada, yada.

Republicans must first and foremost persuade Blacks that conservatism is not incompatible with civil rights, voting rights, and equal opportunity, but rather these issues are a fundamental part of conservatism.

Republicans must, by their actions, demonstrate that Black businesses tend to flourish when Republicans control the levers of government compared to when Democrats are in power.

I wrote about this, in 2012, in a piece I did for Black Enterprise. Democrats and the Obama Administration have done very little for Black-owned businesses over the last eight years.

Republicans have a huge opportunity to engage directly with the Black community on the specific issue of entrepreneurship. Not only are these Black businessmen fervent supporters of abolishing the capital gains tax, accelerated depreciation (writing off all capital purchases in year one), and lowering the corporate tax rate, but they also want to be relieved of all the onerous regulations imposed on them by Obama’s reign of terror on small and minority businesses.

According to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, “Black buying power is $ 1.2 trillion; which would make Black America the 15th largest economy in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP).” That is equivalent to the size of Mexico.

Two years ago, the Aspen Institute and “The Atlantic” released a poll that was stunning. According to their poll, Blacks represent the largest group in the country that “believes that the American Dream is attainable with hard work.”

So, to those Republicans, who think that Blacks are just waiting for more government programs and more handouts, I say, you’re wrong.

The Black community is open for business and willing to engage with the Republican Party, but when will the party address the issues we are interested in, not the issues that they think we’re interested in?

We need access to capital, our fair share of government contracts, which is mandated by law, a seat at the decision-making table and input in to policies that affect the economy.

And what will the party get in return for doing business with the Black community? The party will see Blacks voting for Republicans in double digits. The party will see a growth in financial contributions from leading businessmen, who currently see absolutely no value in contributing to Republican campaigns or entities. The party will also get fresh perspectives and new ideas from the top thinkers in the Black community; who are also the “real” leaders within our community.

But most importantly, the party find that the Black community is already in sync with its business agenda; the GOP simply needs to extend a sincere invitation.

Come on Republicans. What in the hell do you have to lose?

Republicans must first and foremost persuade Blacks that conservatism is not incompatible with civil rights, voting rights, and equal opportunity.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Black Press USA.

Why are Black Democrats More Popular in the GOP than Black Republicans?

If Black Republicans ever want to be taken seriously by the Black community, they have to stop accepting the silly ultimatum being offered by the Republican Party. Some in the party think Blacks have to choose between their community and the GOP. The proper thing to do is to be both Black and Republican. This isn’t an ‘either-or’ scenario; Black Republicans must represent their community and the GOP at the same time.

Some Black Republicans that appear on television must be so starved for money that they are willing to sell their souls for 30 pieces of silver. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more integrity.

Republicans obsessive love affair with hiring Black Democrats continues to come back to bite them in the butt. Back in February, ordained minister and reality TV villain Omarosa Manigault appeared on a segment on Fox News to bolster support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The former Clinton aide spent more time name-calling and obsessing over another guest’s cleavage than giving strong reasons why the Black community should vote for Trump.

Omarosa should have been barred from anything to do with the Trump campaign after this embarrassing interview. How can Blacks take this campaign seriously with surrogates like this?

Some will accuse me of taking one bad interview and going off the deep end. Oh really? Check out Roland Martin’s interview with Ashley Bell, a newly hired Black staffer at the RNC. The train wreck starts at 10:10. I cringed while watching this interview. This is what happens when you hire inexperienced people who make you feel comfortable, versus someone who is a bonified professional.

Need more proof? Okay. My good friend, former Congressman Jack Kingston from Georgia is also a Trump surrogate. Kingston is White. This interview is bordering on insanity and racism. I know Jack very well and he is neither, but when you speak of things which you have no knowledge of, like the Black community, this is what you get.

I have provided media training to some of the biggest names in business, politics, entertainment, and sports and have offered to do the same for the Republican Party, but of course, to no avail.

Some racially-tinged jokes and campaign antics that are funny to White folks are simply not funny to Blacks, and Diamond and Silk are prime examples. Diamond and Silk are two Black women, who are Internet sensations from North Carolina. They also support Trump. So, in usual Republican fashion, they have become “the flavor of the month.” They are Democrats and are now being flown across the country and being paid to “entertain” mostly White audiences.

Memo to White folks: “Blacks don’t think this is funny.” Diamond and Silk give us flashbacks of the minstrel shows of old.

Most Black Republicans complain in private, but don’t have the guts to complain publicly. These are the Blacks that this party hires and promotes. You can’t complain about your opponent’s behavior and remain silent when one of your own behaves in a similar manner.

The only Black involved in the election cycle with any professionalism and credibility is Katrina Pierson, Trumps national spokesperson. The rest do not even meet the minimum requirement to be in the role they occupy. They provide nothing more than race insurance for the party (“We hired a few Blacks, therefore we can’t be racist.”).

None of them possess any institutional memory or knowledge of the Republican Party. None of these Blacks would be deemed qualified for similar positions in the private sector.

But these Blacks are simply a reflection of the organizations that hire them. The Republican Party has shown absolutely no interest in engaging with the Black community. As a matter of fact, I find it quite offensive that Trump would give remarkably strong speeches laying out a rationale for Blacks to vote for him, but doesn’t think enough of Blacks to show up in our community.

What Trump is doing is equivalent to a male going before a group of all males to deliver a speech about women’s issues. But Black Republicans are so politically bruised and battered that they are simply thrilled that Trump invokes the Black community’s name, regardless of the offensive manner in which it is done.

As long as the party continues to hire Blacks who think we “need” groups like the NAACP or the National Urban League to validate our existence as Black Republicans, we will continue to lose the Black vote.

Republican candidates and leaders need not speak before these groups to “prove” that they are not racist. They simply need to speak before Black Republican groups to prove that we are valued and a welcomed member of the party.

The bar has been set so low relative to engagement with the Black community that far too often Black Republicans heap praise on Republicans simply for “showing up” or “mentioning us as a group by name.” I find this bigotry of low expectations thoroughly repulsive and it is the fault of Black Republicans for accepting this treatment.

As I am fond of saying, “the best way to get attention in the Republican Party as a Black is to be a Black Democrat.”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Black Press USA.

This is Why ESPN Is the Republican Party of Sports Television

I am quite fond of saying about Republicans when it comes to Blacks, “Even when they try to do the right thing, they do it the wrong way.”

In a similar manner, ESPN has become the Republican Party of TV and sports.

Last week they had their annual ESPYs awards show. This is their annual celebration of achievement in the world of sports.

They opened the show trying to do the right thing, but definitely did it the wrong way.

The event opened with four of the top NBA players speaking out against police brutality and gun violence. This was very moving to the extent that you had four of the biggest names in sports taking a public stance on a relevant, social issue, which is very rare for today’s athletes. The players were LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.

If this was such a good thing, you might be asking, then why am I criticizing the event?

All four of the above players are Black. This issue of police brutality and gun violence is not a “Black” issue, it is an American issue. Whites are subjected to these issues as well. Good and bad cuts across race and class.

In 2015, the NBA was 74.4 percent Black, 23.3 percent White, 1.8 percent Latino, and .2 percent Asian, this was based on a survey by Richard Lapchick.

It would have made more sense for the ESPN to have players from each of these groups on stage talking about these issues, sending the unmistakable message that this is not just a Black issue, but rather a societal issue.

The optics of the display were odd and quite offensive to me.

ESPN is owned by The Walt Disney Company, one of the top pro-homosexual companies in the world. When they were aggressively promoting former player Jason Collins for coming out of the closet, they used the full panoply of races in their promotion of their homosexual agenda.

But when it came to police brutality and gun violence, they made it into a “Black” issue, not a societal issue like homosexuality.

A few days before the event, LeBron James reached out to the ESPY’s producer, Maura Mandt, with the idea, thus the plan was agreed to by all the suits at ESPN’s corporate office.

From my research, ESPN and the ESPYs seem to have no diversity in leadership in terms of decision-makers, the decision-makers all seem to be White liberals.

Maybe, just maybe, if they had people from diverse backgrounds in the decision-making loop someone would have pointed out the optics of LeBron’s idea and encouraged him to have a diverse group of players on stage with him.
Diversity is not just about race or gender, it’s also about worldview.

To their credit, ESPN has a very diverse workforce as far as race goes, but it is without question that an overwhelming amount of that diversity is racial, not ideological.

Most of their decision-makers and on-air talent are extremely liberal, which is totally in line with their corporate view. My friends who work for ESPN never dispute my conservative views in my private conversations with them, but they would never admit that they hold such views in public.

For some, expressing those views would be career suicide at worst or at best lead to a very public excoriation from peers and fair-weather friends alike.

Exhibit “A” in my argument is Chris Broussard. He is an analyst for ESPN who focuses on the NBA. He has been profiled in many media outlets about his Christian faith and his positive family life. He is another version of Steph Curry.

When Jason Collins came out as homosexual, Broussard responded, “If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, (but) adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals…I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ,” Broussard said. “I would not characterize that person as a Christian, because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

His simple expression of his faith caused a backlash like I have never seen before. So, as long as you are for homosexuality, your thoughts are welcomed on ESPN, but if you don’t agree with it, you are silenced.

I applaud these athletes for trying to take a principled stand at the ESPYs, but I fault ESPN for not having the foresight to fully understand and appreciate the optics of having all Black athletes on stage.

Now, mind you, ESPN is supposed to be experts in optics, after all, they are the world leader in sports and entertainment. But, because they are surrounded by people who all look and think like each other, there was no one to point out the obvious racial connotation of these optics.

Like the Republican Party, they tried to do the right thing, but did it the wrong way.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Black Press USA.