Is Tea Black?

By Todd A. Smith

            I never would have “thunk” it.  Once the Tea Party established itself in national politics after the historic election of President Barack Obama, many in the Black community, and probably rightfully so, dismissed the organization as racist and simply mad that the nation elected a Black president.

            However, on Jan 18 in Houston the first Black Tea Party came together to give Black conservatives a voice they have usually kept to themselves, because the Black community usually votes heavily Democrat.

            Although I do not support the Tea Party, I definitely support the idea of a Black Tea Party because for far too long we have simply given our vote to a party simply because that is the way our people expect us to vote.  My father used to tell me as a child that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans truly cared about the issues of the Black community, so why not make both parties work for our vote if they want to gain the support of our community.

            According to, the mission of the Black Tea Party is “To build a strong base of conservative Black entrepreneurs, elected officials and constituents that provide Black conservatives a viable way to express and implement their conservative values politically.”

            Although many Black voters, including myself, are registered Democrats, many including myself are conservative when it comes to things like social issues, because of the deep religious values of our community.  Furthermore, as a small business owner, I can also understand the need to be fiscally conservative.

            My problem with the Republican Party is that over recent years they have done very little, if anything, for the Black community.  In addition, my problem with the Democratic Party is that they know we vote overwhelmingly Democrat and we only see them occasionally at church services during their campaign.

            As a people, we brag about not being monolithic, but we chastise any Black person that does not vote like us during the election season.  While nobody knows how successful the Black Tea Party will be in our community, I applaud their courage for thinking outside of the box, when so many people, Black and White, want to keep us inside a box.

            “It’s just not in my system to want to identify with any party other than Democrat,” said John Hollins.

            However, Black Tea Party co-founder Anita Moncrief stated: “It’s not really about Republican or Democrat.  It’s about the Black community.  The minority vote has been misused and manipulated by people for so long.”

            Ultimately, it is time for our vote to stop being used or manipulated by either political party.  Although the Republican Party has changed for the worse when it comes to race relations in recent generations, it was a president from the Republican Party that freed Black slaves.

            It was not until the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal that Black people switched their party of preference.

            If our forefathers had the courage to switch political parties because it was in their best interest, we should have admiration and not animosity for our people who have the courage to do the same in 2011.

            And while I never would have imagined the creation of a Black Tea Party, I applaud their mission because some of us actually prefer tea, and not our stereotypical drinks of choice, Kool-Aid or red soda.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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