It’s no secret I, and many of my colleagues at the Virginia Black Conservative Forum, have been frequent critics of the Republican Party’s failure to develop a meaningful plan for reaching out to the minority communities in Virginia and across the country. Indeed we’ve been part of many false starts and failed programs such as the defunct Welcoming Committee and the defunct Ethnic Coalitions Committee – ad hoc groups started by the state party, with no independent authority and no funding that could be, and were, eliminated by the party chair and executive director.
Instead, much to our surprise and consternation, we realized the party’s real outreach plan has consisted of relying on Great Black Hopes, or what National Review once referred to as Numinous Negroes, or what’s known as magical Negroes in Hollywood. They go by names such as Artur Davis, Paul Harris, Colin Powell….and now E.W. Jackson. They are blacks of considerable talent and ability who are supposed to embody all Republican outreach. These figures, of mythic proportions, assuage Republican white guilt by making up for the years of conservative neglect toward the black community. Or at least that’s what they’re supposed to do. Decades of not campaigning in inner cities and not addressing the problems of the black community are supposed to be forgotten because the Republican standard-bearer happens to be black.
Never mind whether or not that stand-bearer is palatable to black voters, or any voters beyond the narrow conservative base that makes up the Republican Party for that matter, no, just being black is sufficient is what we’re told. And, of course, other black conservatives are expected to jump on board because all black conservatives think alike.
But the Republican Party, specifically the Republican Party of Virginia, must realize (and should have realized a long time ago because we’ve been around this Mulberry tree before, see Maurice Dawkins to see the end result) that simply nominating a black candidate isn’t enough. Now more than ever real resources must be put behind a real program to attain the support of African-Americans and Hispanics and the young and women.
That’s why I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen/heard/read concerning the efforts coming out of the Republican National Committee as of late. Significant amounts of money are being poured into its latest outreach program, there seems to be a genuine attempt to pierce the hereto unbreakable veil that seemed to have separated the black community and the Republican Party for so long. And contrary to what I initially believed would happen the RNC is actually hiring on staff to the work many of us have been begging them to for years. The RNC seems to finally understand that outreach can’t be about winning campaigns in the short term, rather it must be prefaced on building relationships in the long term.
True outreach is bigger than just one campaign, one candidate and one movement.