Memo to Mark Jaworowski

Posted: September 16, 2015 by Coby Dillard in Uncategorized

“The time is right for our side to play the race card for a change, by appealing directly to black male voters and making the case that our policies (school choice and vouchers, strongly reduced flow of low-skilled immigrants, and targeted privatization of social security, etc.) are more beneficial to them than anything the Democrats can offer.”

 

By way of introduction, since I’ve been in college for a minute: Coby Dillard. African American man (or “black male,” if you must), graduate of a community college and an HBCU, former vice chair of the Republican Party of Norfolk.

 

Credentials aside, what you’re suggesting is not only dead wrong, but indicative of many of the problems black men-and women, and children-have with our Republican Party.

 

First, it’s extremely hypocritical of any Republican to suggest that “playing the race card” is a viable political strategy for the Republican Party. You’re essentially suggesting that we act like Democrats in strategy-read that carefully-while decrying the for the use of that strategy. Pause for intellectual honesty: when Democrats make use of the race card, what’s the standard Republican/conservative response?

 

Second-and I’m going to project a bit here-before writing this, did you ask any black men what their concerns were? Whether immigration and social security, and school choice were the most important issues on their radar? If you did, you’d probably find a lot more who are interested in, you know, sentencing disparity for drug offenses, restoration of rights for non-violent felons, and the whole (insert name of last black man killed by police here) issue.

 

Why? Because those things are tangible; we feel them. We live them. It’s easy to talk about macro-issues and say “yeah, black voters HAVE to be upset about that!” It makes you look foolish, however, when you make assumptions about things that you have approximately zero knowledge of.

 

And no, growing up in a housing project in Manhattan in the 1960s does not give you credibility to talk about the issues of African Americans in the 2000s. Take that message to Richmond’s Gilpin Court, or Calvert Square in Norfolk, or on campus at Virginia State University in Petersburg, and see how well it resonates. Or take it to Hampton University, where you would at least be heard out and have your misconceptions and assumptions corrected.

 

I’m spitballing here, but I’m willing to bet my meager salary that there are more black men more concerned about their next encounter with the police than whether they’ll live to fully enjoy Social Security.

 

As Republicans/conservatives-because those titles don’t necessarily compliment each other-we have a tendency to attempt to tell black voters what they should be upset about; why they should vote for “us.” When was the last time we made a concerted effort to go to the black communities across Virginia and say, “you know, what ARE your concerns? Tell us, because we don’t know”?

 

My bad, that’s “pandering.” They haven’t voted for us before, so why talk to them now, right?

 

In that question is the crux of our problem. We don’t talk to; we talk AT. Your article is a great example of that. You’ve succeeded in offering zero solutions to problems that plague black men in the immediate; instead choosing to offer for their consideration more reasons why we should be upset.

 

We have minds of our own. We’re capable of our own outrage. What do you think #BlackLivesMatter is about?

 

If there was a commitment that I wish we on the right would make, it would be for a long-term exercise to get to know black voters. To learn what problems we have, hear our ideas for fixing them, and having a genuine discussion about how to (re)build a relationship with them.

 

Because pretending to care about the black community, while not hearing a damn thing we’re saying, is a transparent enterprise relegated to repetitive failure.

 

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