Commentary: Artur Davis’ Speech Is About Race

Commentary: Artur Davis’ Speech Is About Race

Artur Davis, the Democrat turned Republican, will speak at the Republican National Convention and try to avoid discussing race. Good luck with that.

Published August 28, 2012

After a hurricane that never actually materialized delayed the Republican National Convention, things are back in full swing in Tampa, Florida. Today, when a long day of smaller speeches and events wraps up, one of the highlights of the evening is set to be an address from Artur Davis. Davis is a former Democratic politician who became a Republican earlier this year. He is also Black, which, as we know, is not a normal thing for someone supporting Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. In a recent poll, it was estimated that the Romney-Ryan ticket would pull 0 percent of the Black vote.

In an interview with the Huffington Post’s Jon Ward, Davis explained a bit about what his speech tonight would entail:

"While my leaving the party has gotten attention for predictable reasons — a former Obama supporter, African-American elected official and all that — the reality is that according to Gallup, 9 percent of Obama supporters do not plan to vote for Barack Obama. He got 70 million votes. That translates, even by my math, into 6.3 million people," Davis said.

"Mitt Romney can win this election simply on the votes of disaffected Obama supporters," said Davis, his hair shaped in a vague flat top. "That makes them a very pivotal strategic group ... It's important I think to talk about why they've moved, what set of forces and what set of issues have caused them to move. That's obviously going to be the cast of what my remarks will be."

One thing Davis said he doesn’t plan on talking about is race. “The word race does not appear in this speech,” he told HuffPo. “The word African-American does not appear in this speech.”

While Davis can kid himself and pretend that not talking directly about race means his speech tonight isn’t going to address race at all, any thinking person knows that’s not the case. He’s a Black man who once worked to elect President Obama and is now working to elect two men who would probably be very bad for Black Americans. For many white Republicans, Davis’ speech is going to be one of the most exciting of the convention — evidence that the Republican Party is not guilty of the charges of racism constantly leveled against it and also proof that Obama has failed even “his own people.”

Whether you disagree with those Republicans — and I personally do — or not, Davis is wrong when he says his speech isn’t about race. He forgets that, in America, being Black means that your skin is very often politicized, especially when you present it on a stage before an audience of white conservatives. In that situation, you’re going to say a lot about race, no matter what comes out of your mouth.


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(Photo: Artur Davis/Facebook)

Written by Cord Jefferson

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