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African Americans in Politics Endure Racial Insults from GOP

by Todd A. Smith

Out of Touch

By Todd A. Smith

            After the historic elections last year, the Republican Party seemed to be in a free fall.  The failed policies of President George W. Bush led to a historic Democratic White House and a Democratic-led Congress.

            In 2004, when Bush was re-elected, the Democrats were the ones doing the soul-searching.  Many believed that they had lost key elections because they had ignored or avoided the enormous impact that religious faith had on the lives of Americans.  Now the GOP is falling victim to that same type of ignorance, this time alienating large groups of ethnic minorities that can sometimes swing an entire election one way or another.

            However, the Republican Party obviously did not receive the memo that America has changed, and racist rhetoric from members of the Party only will alienate more voters, and cost the GOP more elections.

            President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have become the latest African Americans in politics to be attacked by racists who are still uncomfortable with seeing Black faces in the White House.

            Sheri Goforth, an executive assistant to Tennessee State Republican Caucus Chairperson Diane Black, was recently reprimanded by Black for emailing an offensive picture of all of the United States presidents with the exception of President Obama.  In the sport reserved for the 44th was a black box, with just two eyes visible.

            Almost immediately, many African Americans in politics and a chorus of Democratic leaders began calling for the firing of Goforth for the offensive email.   Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner stated, “It’s irresponsible.  It’s despicable to have that type of racist humor coming out (the Republican) caucus.”

However, Black decided to only give her executive assistant a written warning, stating that “no communication that is derogatory regarding any minority should be sent from this office or that employee will be subject to termination of employment with my office.”  Some African Americans in politics were quick to describe Goforth’s punishment as a “slap on the wrist.”

Furthermore, South Carolina GOP activist and former chairman of the state elections commission, Rusty DePass, created another racial controversy for the GOP by describing an escaped gorilla as a “ancestor” of the First Lady.  DePass issued an apology, but still faced criticism for not doing enough to heal the racial divide, that many African Americans in politics still experience.

“Comments like the one in question are unacceptable, run contrary to the spirit and ideals of the Republican Party and have no place in public discourse,” said South Carolina GOP chairperson Karen Floyd.  Columbia, S.C. mayor Bob Cobble issued a statement to Michelle Obama seeking forgiveness on the behalf of the entire city.

            Nevertheless, the damage done by a few GOP leaders has quite possibly done enough damage to affect future elections, at the detriment of the Republican Party.  It has been said that the only constant in life is change, and change has definitely come to America, thanks to President Obama. 

This country is constantly becoming the melting pot that so many have described it as in the past.  African Americans in politics, and every avenue of life, have made tremendous strides, and with other minority groups have seen their influence increase when it comes to the direction of their country and respective communities.  If the GOP wants to be a grand party again, they have to realize the way to obtain new voters and members to their political party will not be achieved through insults, but through inclusion.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men's Magazine.

This article was published on Thursday 25 June, 2009.
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