Are Black Republicans Sell-Outs/Uncle Toms?

Do you consider Black Republicans Sell-Outs or Uncle Toms? Why or Why not?

More specifically, are people like Niger Innis, Larry Elder, Michael Steele, J.C. Watts, Alan Keyes, Armstrong Williams, and to a lesser extent Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell, really representing the Black community? To me, most of those people are being used by some in the Republican party, a party that does not really represent the interests of most Black people (or Gays, or Latinos). I also suspect that many them choose to be conservative spokespeople for self-serving reasons. That makes the sell-outs in my book. It is unfair to characterize them in this way.

Just for the record, Niger Innis is consulted by some Republicans, but he joined the Libertarian Party in 1998.

True, not all those I named are, in fact, Republicans. I should have said Conservatives to be more accurate.

No opinion on the matter Lib?

Well, I think that it’s nigh on impossible to see inside the hearts of other men. Politics, as they say, makes for strange bedfellows. The RP does represent many of the interests of blacks. It might surprise you to learn, for example, that they oppose gay marriage by a margin of 80%.

Also, I might add that it isn’t accurate to call Innis a Conservative either. Most Conservatives do not advocate open borders and the repeal of all laws against drugs and prostitution, for example.

As a white liberal, I’m a little ooky at the notion that I could judge who is or isn’t “selling out” the black community.

I will say that I suspect that there’s more than a little affirmative action going on with conservatives eager to make inroads into the black community, which so far has remained remarkably immune to any conservative message. Some of the black conservative voices I hear (Thomas Sowell comes to mind) are so incredibly fatuous and muddled that I have to conclude they got their columns into the editorial page only because of the headshot next to their names.

Colin and Condi are different cases; they got to where they are because of extreme competence in their chosen fields. Insert joke about Condi’s Iraq adventure here, coffee hasn’t taken hold yet. In any case, they’re policymakers, not pundits like the other names you cited.

Larry Elder, the talk show host, is a Republican? Next thing you’ll tell me, Jerry Springer is a Democrat.

Well, I don’t know if they’re representing “the black community”, but they’re probably conservatives for the same reason white conservatives are conservatives…they honestly believe that conservativism is true, or better for the country, and they think that the Republican Party/conservative movement does actually represent the interests of black people, or latinos, or gays, or whoever, better than the Democratic Party/liberal movement.

I’m risking a big ol’ woosh here, because everybody knows that Jerry Springer is a Democrat.

The Ohio party named him Democrat of the Year in 2004 for fundraising. He was once the Democratic mayor of Cincinnati and a campaign aide to Bobby Kennedy. There are rumors that he might run for either the Senate or the governor’s mansion in Ohio in 2006.


Because they feel that the Republican party does indeed represent their interests and the interests of others with their ethnicity.

And as others have mentioned, your list of “Black Republicans” needs work. Elder is a self-proclaimed Libertarian.

My opinion is that most (if not all) of the “Black Republicans” (including those you did not list) just don’t buy into Jesse Jackson’s and Al Sharpton’s argument that the Republicans don’t care about them or their interests. There is a huge variety in the political views of whites. Why is it surprising when there is a variety in political views of blacks?

Would either Colin or Condi be where they are if they weren’t black? I would bet they would not. That’s not to say they aren’t qualified, just that it certainly figured into the minds of the powers that be. I believe Powell has admitted as much.

I believe Larry Elder considers himself a Libertarian, but he is basically a Republican (based on his voting record and his books). However, I will call him conservative since it is more accurate.

Are you kidding about Springer ? You know he was the democratic mayor of Cincinnati. I know his show is an abomination, but he is clearly an intelligent guy and a good politician.

Yes, I was kidding about Jerry Springer. I know he was considering a gubernatorial run; personally, I think a little more credibility among the “white trash” segment of the electorate could do the Democrats a world of good. It didn’t exactly hurt Clinton. But I digress.

Maybe those two have gotten an advantage out of their skin color on the way up, maybe they haven’t. I will simply reply that their postings as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor were not implausible, based solely on their credentials. I have my own opinions on their performance in Dubya’s administration, but again I don’t wish to sidetrack the thread.

But both were Republicans before then rose in politics. Sure, the Republicans LOVE it when they can find a Black conservative, but you’re mixing cause and effect here.

And both are extremely qualified, high achieving individuals. I find it hard to believe that they embrace Republican ideals at the expense of their fellow citizens, regardless of color.

Yes, because the dynamics of being black are very different from being white. Black people, for the most part, are viewed collectively rather than as individuals. That’s one main reason why every black person should have the interests of the black community in mind.

I don’t mean to imply that they don’t deserve their spots, or that they aren’t qualified. Just that they probably wouldn’t be there if they weren’t black.

I don’t suggest that they choose to be Republicans at the expense of other blacks, just that that they don’t care about representing the black community.

How does one represent “the Black community”, and how do you determine that a particular person isn’t doing so. Is there only one way to do it?

What do you base this on? Are you saying that every black that attains a level of achievement got that spot simply because they are black? Or just Republican blacks, or just blacks in politics? Does this work the same for other minorities too? Or just for blacks?


You forgot Janice Rogers Brown, just appointed to the Federal bench. Mrs. Brown is an interesting case in point. She’s expressed the opinion many times that liberalism and welfare have destroyed the moral fiber of the black working class. Being a former welfare mother and member of that class, she certainly has a right to her opinion.

As a practical matter, Republicans win roughly half the time overall, and no blacks in the party means no representation. Also, when it comes to social issues, black Americans are fairly right wing. Gay rights, abortion, feminism, bilingualism, illegal immigration, Bible in the school and courthouse, you name it, black Americans line up pretty close to their white southern countrymen. Black Americans are also more likely to favor less restrictions on gun ownership than your typical white northern liberal.

That said, the Republicans have a well earned reputation as the home of genteel white supremacy, the white folks party. Even John Derbyshire, the conservative National Review editor admits that the Republicans are the go to party for Americans, white, Asian, Latino, who despise black people.

Looking at it in broad historical terms, black membership in the Republican party is an inevitable result of integration. Once you reject ethnic separatism/nationalism, the only other choice is integration. Integration will inevitably take place on the terms of the dominant majority. Since the white majority skews decidedly Republican these days, a big chunk of the action for black politicians will be in that party.

What’s really funny about Republicans, like Keys when he ran in MD, is the number of white erstwhile Republicans who will abandon their party rather than vote black.

C’mon. A wealthy black person has ample reason to choose the Republican Party – they represent the wealthy and the extremely wealthy with unstinting devotion. It’s a matter of choice.

Now, poor and middle class blacks who are Republicans, few though they are, are just the same kind of fools that poor and middle class white Republicans are, only more so, since the Republican Party has a recent history of opposing civil rights and affirmative action to appease their white racist base.

JC Watts retired from the House of Representatives. I think that if he were being a Tom to get ahead, he would have stuck with it.

You can read a review of his autobiography here. From the review:

I think it’s one reason that they shouldn’t weigh each of their choices against what’s good for “the black community.” There ought not to be a collective mindset when thinking of black voters in the first place! Each black voter has their own set of needs, just as every white voter or other minority voter does. Continuing to pander to the idea that all black voters are part of some hivemind collective with identical needs and wants only ensures that they’ll continue to be viewed that way by politics. Who the hell is helped by that? Doing what they personally feel is right, regardless of what “the black community” thinks is one of the ways to make inroads into white politicians minds and get them to realize that “oh yeah, they’re individuals too, so I guess I can’t expect a couple of glib promises to appease all of them.”

Are high-profile black politicians & voters being used by the Republican party? Yup. Are they being used by the Democratic party? You bet your life. As long as they’re allowed to be seen as a like-minded voting block, all the politicians will be drooling over them.