December 29, 2003
GOP Integration: BYO Blackness
Yet again, I am getting whacked for my realpolitik. I continue to suggest that African Americans integrate the Republican Party, and last week I said those that didn't where chickenshit. Let me say it another way.
I hate analogies as much as the next guy, but they can be awfully useful sometimes. I hope this is a time, and yes I'm going to make it personal too. If the principle of what I am attempting to encourage has not been made self-evident by now, then it only proves the necessity of yet one more try.
This time I'm going to talk about the computer industry. As I mentioned on Kujichagulia to my offspring, there was a knucklehead named Kent who famously told me in 1984 that I had to choose between computers and business. Nobody could do both, they don't mix. Kent was one of the managers responsible for the Xerox computer business. You do the math. In my calculations, Kent was incompetent to decide my future, and I am certain there have been years when I bet he wishes he had my job in the computer business (in the business of business computing) despite his fervent belief that computers did not belong on the desks of business managers. But Kent wasn't the only naysayer in this matter. Legions of folks have been proven wrong.
There are no black women in computing. Do I mean it literally? Of course not. However, if you were a professional man in search of a professional wife, and you had the same tastes in women as I, chances are that during the 80s and 90s your pickings would be mighty slim. I have worked, in the past 18 years, with exactly 4 peers who were black and female in the multi-billion dollar Database and Business Intelligence segment of the computer industry. Not only that, my job as a consultant has put me in scores of different corporations from coast to coast. I'll restate the obvious, black women are scarce.
Nevertheless I have married, raised kids (one halfway to adulthood), and have not been babeless all this time. While I have not been swimmin' in women, I have been very happy and comfortable. But I've never even looked for them in the workplace. Tangentially, one of the reasons I stay bald is because when I'm on the road, I cannot count on finding the right kind of barber, and I should say that because of the French & Indian Creole side of the family my hair is very straight at the roots so even the ordinary black barber can't fade me right. In otherwords, I get what I need by providing it myself or seeking alternative sources. There would be no way I could have any pride or function properly as a black man if I depended on the computer industry to take care of my personal needs. It doesn't matter to me whether the industry is hostile or indifferent with regards to the reasons for its short supply, I bring it myself. So you will see, at industry functions, a black family when families are invited. I represent.
I am satisfied with my career because it provides the rewards I expect. But it is not a part of my expectations for them to understand and provide anything related to black culture. If I had to get support from the workplace, I would be in sorry shape. But since I do get what I need, when I am in the workplace the flow goes the other way. They get it from me. I am the provider. So everywhere I work has a little more flavor than it had before I came with it. This is your standard 'strong positive black man' stuff. I got it goin' on and everybody is better off for that. Every once in a while people want to touch my hair. Every once in a while somebody says something incredibly stupid and racist. Every once in a while there are intolerably stark reminders of the white male desolation of computer geekdom. So some days, I have to head for the hills and recharge the batteries. Nevertheless it is not difficult for me to enjoy a week in Boise, Idaho learning MDX, as Cobb readers know.
So to the Republican Party.
My home is my well-wrapped universe. But I still cannot find that poem by Nikki Giovanni that talked about a revolution. She said that when she was younger she had energy stored up to take heat to the Man so that he could never keep her down. But then she had a thought and that was that if she had a revolution in her own mind that she could be liberated from complicity in her own oppression. She didn't need to fight the Man, because she didn't need the Man. She thus accomplished her revolution without firing a shot. This revolution is what I call the sound of the drum. It is the basic operating principles of self-respect which has been maintained through African American culture for more generations than a few. This is what you keep whole and pure by any means necessary.
A man with dignity doesn't need to join a club. His membership dignifies the club.
People need to convince me that membership in an American political party cuts off the sound of the drum, because I don't believe it. What I hear, when people complain about the Republicans and African Americans is that joining deafens the sound of the drum, blanches all that was black and irreversibly corrupts the soul. I say these people have the wrong expectations of political parties in general and are probably not quite well stocked enough at home to survive hostility and indifference.
If you don't believe that good triumphs over evil. If you believe that you can be faded. If you think there can be no such thing as a righteous black Republican (or American, or Muslim, or Gay) then I would suggest you go get your Nikki Giovanni on, because deep down you have not won your own revolution.
I once wrote in my old performance poetry days that the great man keeps his own poetry with him, in rhythm. Pick up an Essence magazine and take it to work with you and leave it on the desk for everyone to see. In fact, put it in the pile in the lunch room. But I digress.
I cannot mean to suggest that there are not legitimate beefs with the Republican or any political party that are not best solved through loyal opposition. That would be pure idiocy. As I said in the beginning, my expectation is to triple black Republicans to somewhere around 10-12% by 2013. But I know that partisanship is weaker than consensus, and I know that the Democratic monopoly on black attention is already broken. Most importantly, I know that home is where the heart is and ain't nobody gonna turn me 'round.
Posted by mbowen at December 29, 2003 10:18 AM
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� Babylon 5 and Black Party Politics from Vision Circle
My boy Cobb's been on a move to integrate the Republican Party for some time now. The number he's pushing for is around 10-12 percent, which is about the amount that Nixon got if I recall correctly. I believe that... [Read More]
Tracked on December 29, 2003 11:42 AM
Tracked on December 29, 2003 12:38 PM
� Integrating the GOP (or Where Do I Go From Here?) from dcthornton.com
Michael Bowen, aka Cobb, wants to see more black Republicans. For a backgrounder on his rationale, read this post, which... [Read More]
Tracked on December 30, 2003 09:27 PM
� Why I am a Republican (Part Three) from baldilocks
Cobb, Prince C. and others have given me a lot to think about, regarding my years-ago conversion to the Republican Party. As with any formed opinion, I’m always re-thinking and re-evaluating that decision; taking the old received facts, as well [Read More]
Tracked on January 5, 2004 07:57 PM
Well we are pretty much on the opposite ends of the spectrum. You as a black Republican and I as a black Liberal/NDP Canadian but I do enjoy reading your work. I don't know if any of the following links will help in your search for the Nikki Giovanni quote but there might be some leads..
all the best
Posted by: Philip Akin at December 29, 2003 04:53 PM
I ain't no repub, but I do like your style. I have read essence magazine, which is how I came across the name Utendahl, who is now one of NYC's most eligible bachelors, apparently. But I digress. I'm with you on the revolution thing. If you think that being black means not having the powers of observation to decide to vote differently than your parents, something is terribly wrong with you. With one. But one will figure it out eventually. Hopefully.
Posted by: TLL at December 30, 2003 12:13 PM
Came over from USS Clueless the other day, and I find your viewpoint to be illuminating.
Could you explain something to me? I'm 30 and white and grew up in a small/midsized integrated New England city. Obviously, race is something that is noticed, but the sense I get from most people in my generation, black or white, is that happily, the racist attitudes of the past are in no small measure dying off with the dinosaurs that hold them. Maybe I'm lucky or sheltered or in a blessed corner of this country or maybe that's the trend everywhere.
Anyway, my real question is why are blacks so predominately Democratic these days? As near as I can tell, the balance sheet with the national parties with respect to racial injustice goes something like
Jim Crow and 100 years of segregation
Barry Goldwater(non-racist), concerned about overencroaching federalism, appealing to state's rights advocates who are racists
Nixon running on a "Southern Strategy" (which led him to carry 49 states in '72!)
Civil rights legislation in the 60's was mostly bipartisan - actually a greater percenage of Repubs in Congress voted for those laws than Dems.
So what's the genesis of the huge support in the black community for Democrats - or, why aren't there more Cobb minded people out there?
Posted by: mike p at December 30, 2003 04:41 PM
There are several good reasons and several bad reasons. I think the primary reason more blackfolks don't give Republicans the benefit of the doubt comes from the ineptitude of the Republican party itself. I strongly believe that there are a lot of GOP leaders that are as clueless as you know a lot of whitefolks to be. They have no idea in hell how to appeal to the young and upcoming black demographic which is going to lead the pack. It's like asking Lawrence Welk to put Outkast on their show - and you know exactly what I'm talking about (i hope).
The second big reason is because the progressive, aggressive political leaders and thinkers in African America cut their teeth when the sides were much more entrenched and oppositional than they are today. Every time you see Jesse Jackson on television, you are not seeing somebody younger who has more crossover clues like experience going to college with whitefolks. It may be hard to imagine but in the 60s and 70s the overwhelming majority of black college graduates came out of all black colleges. No corporate recruitment, no interracial frats, no crossover music on radio stations. Two separate worlds.
Thirdly, Republicans have contributed mightily to the culture wars, and what did it gain them? The 80s saw all of the Republican nutcases come out of the closet and push all of the moderates out of the way. Think of every year the Pat Buchannan got more props than Jack Kemp and you know what I mean. You will not see most blackfolks having serious arguments with Bill Bennett, but his star has fallen.
Fourthly, and probably most regrettably Republicans chose George W. Bush over Colin Powell.
But there are other reasons as well, as I said some good some bad. I don't expect old folks to change their minds. Later for them.
Posted by: Cobb at December 30, 2003 06:10 PM
Excellent post. You've fleshed out the ideas that I've had for some time.
Posted by: Juliette at December 30, 2003 06:29 PM
I'm seriously considering a change of my party registration from Non-Partisan to Republican.
Posted by: Darmon Thornton at December 30, 2003 07:29 PM
Thanks Cobb - I just bookmarked you, so you'll be seeing me around virtually.
I never really considered the reasons you give, but it's certainly true that modern Republicans stereotypically are more square than Democrats and that may hurt out reach. And the historical era in which many current black leaders had their formative years were pre Mike times. I suppose that the reasons I thought of that blacks generally shun the Republicans I heard from white liberals anyway. Good to get more data points.
Happy New Year!
Posted by: mike p at January 1, 2004 07:17 AM