Commentary: There Are Black Tea Partiers

Commentary: There Are Black Tea Partiers

While you may disagree with the conservative group’s views, it’s important to remember that there are African-Americans in the Tea Party fold.

Published September 7, 2011

We told you yesterday that it was wrong to call the Tea Party a “lynch mob,” as Congressman Emanuel Cleaver recently suggested. “By fear mongering and telling people to go to hell, Carson [is] participating in the kind of hateful, spiteful childishness that’s made the Tea Party so controversial,” I wrote. “You can’t ask Tea Partiers to stop calling the president a Muslim and then turn around and call Tea Partiers a bunch of Klan members. Civility only works when it’s shared back and forth.”


My main point was that name-calling while asking for reason in discourse is hypocritical and unproductive. Today, some Black conservatives have begun their own outcries. Ever since Cleaver and his colleague Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who said the Tea Party can “go straight to hell,” insulted the Tea Party as being a virulently racist movement, a small but vocal cadre of Black Republicans have been voicing their disagreement.


Allen West, a GOP congressman from Florida, has said he’s considering leaving the Congressional Black Caucus if the rhetoric doesn’t die down. And Emery McClendon, another Black conservative, on Monday told One News Now that the Tea Party is not racist. In July, the South Central L.A. Tea Party released plans to boycott the NAACP’s annual meeting. In a statement released to the press, the mostly Black Tea Party group wrote that the “NAACP has made numerous false allegations of ‘racism’ against the Tea Party movement, but has yet to provide a shred of evidence backing up their baseless claims.”


While there is in fact evidence that Tea Party supporters have somewhat backwards views on race, there is indeed no evidence that the Tea Party as a whole is a racist organization, and that’s an important distinction. Saying that the Tea Party wants to see Blacks “hanging from trees” is a lie, especially because there are Blacks in the Tea Party who certainly don’t want to see other African-Americans killed.


The Black community often complains that mainstream society refuses to differentiate between Blacks, choosing instead to lump them all together in the category of “criminal” or “rapper.” If we’d like to be seen as the broad group we are, we need to acknowledge and accept that that means including people whose views are conflicting with our own, sometimes in a major way. Black people are in the Tea Party, meaning there is no way to factually say that the Tea Party wants to see all Blacks lynched. To say as much entirely discredits smart and kind Black people who, for whatever reason, find themselves aligned with the conservative movement.


Who knew attacking the Tea Party could be anti-Black?


The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

(Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Written by Cord Jefferson


Latest in news