The Reagan Era Is Back
Uninvited Words of Advice to My Party
by the Reverend Jerry Michael Grimes II, MDiv, ThM - September 2nd, 2010
“The Reagan era is back!”
While we know that nothing could be further from the truth for a variety of reasons, these words boldly and brazenly completed a verse of lyrics by Island Def Jam recording artist, Juelz Santana one year ago during a freestyle session on BET's Rap City. (Hang in there. This will make sense).
You see, I often listen to lyrics, not just rap lyrics but the lyrics of various musical genres, and in listening to this particular freestyle, I took note of Juelz Santana, formerly a member of the famed rap group The Diplomats, ending his rather clever series of bars with the words, “the Reagan era is back!”
This freestyle came equipped with not only skillful word play, but Juelz clutching a rather large handful of one hundred dollar bills bound in rubber bands while boasting of his diamond necklace that, “I wear 'Thomas Edisons' on my neck/Light Bulbs/I send Con Edison checks.”
Although clever, the verse in and of itself contained the usual hyper-masculine, ultra-boastful tales of money, money and more money that has characterized much of rap music for the past two decades.
Yet, it was the final line of this verse that I found oddly refreshing in some sense in that I quickly found myself watching another freestyle that featured Juelz ten years earlier in which he was, in fact, in the company of his former group members. He was noticeably hungrier as an artist with his lyrics containing far more macabre than references to material excess.
“Interesting,” I said to myself. During the Clinton era, Juelz was starving, and ten years later, if only in a subtle reference, identifies his comeuppance with the Reagan era.
So before my critics on both sides of the aisle even begin typing, speaking or offering comments such as, “Jerry, I'm appalled that you as a black man would so highly praise Reagan,” or “Jerry, I don't know about equating the words of a rapper with Ronald 'Maximus' Reagan,” or “Jerry, I would expect a sellout, Uncle Tom, black conservative to ride Reagan's jock,” or “Jerry, don't you know that Reagan and Oliver North brought crack and AIDS into the black community?,” or “Jerry, how can we as Republicans claim conservative values and identify any aspect of the Republican party with a 'gangsta' rapper?,” or “Jerry, what are you, an ordained minister, doing listening to The Diplomats?” And so on and so on and so on...bring it if you must. I'm argumentative by nature, but I feel as though my observations here might warrant some worthwhile considerations.
I'm used to criticism both mild and harsh as it comes with my profession, calling and tendency to run my big mouth. However, I simply want to offer what I deem "as uninvited advice" for the Republican party which, in turn, could potentially benefit the way that we as Americans conceptualize our politics both presently and historically.
Let me also be emphatic in saying, I have no intent to live the remainder of my life as a Republican who demonizes Democrats or automatically revels in every single word spoken by a Republican candidate or officeholder.
I strongly believe that the core principles of the GOP, when responsibly implemented, possess the most viable means through which government can be both efficient and effective without excessive burden to taxpayers.
Beyond the mere polemical debates that hinge upon lifestyle choices and definitions of what-is and what-is-not morally acceptable in today's increasingly pluralistic society, I honestly understand why there are individuals, who saw, and see, within the creation of government jobs, massive spending in the guise of an economic stimulus and the penalizing of powerful corporations, a sense of “hope” and even redemption—there are times when despair and concerns about the daily struggles of life can make even the worst long-term policy decisions seem as if they make complete sense in the short-term—I get it.
However, two years after the election of President Obama, there still exists an air of desperation amongst persons unemployed, under-employed and middle-skilled workers with families to feed, whose jobs may very well never return—and while “hope” and “change” were overused buzz words that served then Candidate Obama well, as a presidential candidate, even he admitted that it was the “optimism” of the Reagan era that fundamentally “changed” our country and spurred innovation in the United States.
To this extent, quite a few black Americans, such as my parents, who rented during Carter's presidency, yet proudly owned property by the end of Reagan's second-term, experienced a certain degree of flourishing between 1980 and 1988.
Yes, we must be absolutely honest in admitting that the Reagan years were, in fact, quite good for some black Americans. However, before I provide substantive proof of how good those years were for some of us—let us take a trip back to January 16, 2008, to read, what I feel, says quite a bit about the impact and influence of the Reagan era:“I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. They felt like with all the excesses of the 60s and the 70s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is we want we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.” — Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Reno Gazette Journal, January 16, 2008
Who would have ever thought that then presidential candidate Barack Obama and recording artist Juelz Santana would fundamentally agree that the Reagan era possessed some redeemable qualities beyond the rash characterizations of "trickle-down" economics," and further mischaracterizations about the Iran-Contra affair which Leftists effectively used to scare the living hell out of black people thus insuring that Carter, and later Mondale, would receive a bulk of the black vote. Although for obvious reasons, black voting patterns had been trending heavily towards the Democratic party in post-civil rights America anyway.
However, let us consider this reality brought to light by Dr. Robert M. Franklin, who is by no means affiliated with the political Right, but provides a historical analysis of the decline of the black family in America from which I will craft two other meaningful observations concerning the Reagan era.During some of the most difficult years of black life in America, marriage rates were high and adults took parenting seriously. In 1880, just fifteen years after the abolition of slavery, years when lynching and harassment were commonplace, 56.3 percent of African American households were nuclear households. Marriage rates were high and black churches and colleges actively encouraged an increase of committed, permanent relationships and responsible parenting. But one hundred years later, only 33.2 percent of African American children lived with both parents, a drop from 75.8 percent from 1940. During World War II, the marriage rate among young African Americans was higher than the rate of their white counterparts. Blacks understood and embraced the personal and financial benefits of marriage. In 1950, 78 percent of African Americans were married. But by 1996, that number had dropped to 34 percent. [Source: Robert M. Franklin, Crisis in the Village: Restoring African American Communities Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2007)., pp. 43-44. Franklin’s source for this data is found in, Lorraine Blackman, Obie Clayton, Norval Glenn, Linda Malone-Colon, and Alex Roberts, “The Consequences of Marriage: A Comprehensive Literature Review,” a report from the Institute for American Values (New York, 2005), p. 9. Also see, Robert M. Franklin, Liberating Visions: Human Fulfillment and Social Justice in African-American Thought (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1990).
Dr. Franklin goes on to note,For families living in extreme poverty, the burdens on marriage, parenting, and family life in general have been devastating. Until reforms in the 1980s, low-income single mothers faced numerous incentives for keeping fathers out of the household. Now father absence (men who have not seen their children during the past year or more) in poor communities is approximately 40 percent, and the non-marital birthrate in African American communities hovers around 70 percent. [Source: Ibid]
“Until reforms in the 1980s low-income single mothers faced numerous incentives for keeping fathers out of the household," and who helped bring about those reforms? Who provided incentives for keeping fathers out of the household? Those are, of course, rhetorical questions.
Let us also discuss the reality of presidential appointments during the Reagan era by observing Professor Thomas Sowell's point that,Almost unnoticed was the fact that the Reagan administration put blacks in non-traditional roles more so than perhaps any other administration before them—at the United Nations, in economic policy, or in domestic policy positions having nothing to do with race. Those who were in areas dealing with racial policy—Clarence Thomas at E.E.O.C and Clarence Pendleton at the Civil Rights Commission, for example—attracted more attention, but very able blacks like Alan Keyes and Wendell Gunn were playing important roles in non-racial positions. The appointment of minorities was nothing new to Ronald Reagan. As governor of California, he was said to have made more minority appointments than in any previous administration. What he lacked was experience in communicating with minority voters or a sense of their psychology which that experience would have given him. By contrast, Governor George Wallace of Alabama, who bitterly opposed equal rights for blacks during the 1960s, was in later years much better able to communicate with the black community and ask for their votes, because he understood how to appeal to them. In politics, as in elsewhere in life, sometimes “it ain’t what you do, it’s the way you do it.” [Source: Thomas Sowell, A Personal Odyssey (New York: Touchstone, 2000)., p. 293. Cf. For a detailed analysis of the number of jobs created during the Reagan administration see, Michael Novak, “Reagan and the Poor,” National Review Online, June 23, 2004. www.nationalreview.com/novak/novak200406230845.asp] There also exists a cross-reference to the source above which verifies that President Reagan created, over the course of his two terms, 19 million jobs—2.7 million of which went to black Americans.
So far, we have the current president, who during his presidential campaign, referred to the “optimism” and “dynamism” of the Reagan era, we have reforms in the 1980s that promoted two-parent homes, which by proxy were an effort to restore some sense of the nuclear black American family as it existed just fifteen years after the end of the American Civil War, and we have the Reagan administration, in fact, appointing Americans of color to more non-traditional roles than any previous administration. I provided source material here because I welcome a healthy discussion based upon facts and historical realities not conjecture or acrimony.
So, what does this mean for my party, and what (most likely unheeded) advice would I like to offer in light of this rather interesting socio-cultural and political triangulation of Juelz Santana, the Reagan era and our current political climate in the United States?
(1) Foresight is 2020...as in the Year 2020
Granted, the lyrical content presented by rapper Juelz Santana is easily one of most unlikely entry points for a discussion of political matters, particularly as it relates to challenging longly held misconceptions concerning Reagan and black Americans (as if black communities were Pleasantville during Carter's presidency then Reagan was elected and black people's carriages turned back to pumpkins.
Then, I asked myself this question: "Would arguably lily-white, holier-than-thou Americans, who view the very word “rap” in demonic terms and cringe at the very thought of an intelligible word or concept being formed by a rapper concerning the 40th president of the United States, be offended by the notion that GOP victories could hinge on the willingness of candidates to develop an intergenerational, cross-cultural dialogue with portions of the electorate most Republican strategists consider a lost cause?"
Unfortunately, I feel in my heart that some Republicans had much rather lose an election than concede that their willingness to develop such a dialogue, which could very well cost them an election in the short-run, would actually start a tectonic shift in the political thinking of young voters in general, and young voters of color in particular, thus insuring a slew of GOP victories beginning in 2020 and beyond.
The Reagan Revolution, which was ushered in by an overwhelming number of Reagan Democrats and a highly energized youth electorate, akin to the phenomenon of young voters who helped President Obama win in 2008, was being crafted decades earlier. Revolutions take time, but they are worth the sacrifice of hours, days and years necessary in order to improve a given situation.
I'm a futurist, who is far more concerned with the posterity of a thing than the current form of a thing.
Yes, the 2010 midterms are important, but seriously think about 2020 to 2050. It is better to take a severe beating at the polls now by way of in-house cleaning and what I call “administrative decapitations,” that a leaner, more politically agile GOP, still rooted in the same core principles, will be primed for 2020 and beyond.
As I said, I expect that my suggestions here will be castigated as the nonsensical ramblings of an irrelevant Republican, but I will tell you this much; I have kept my ears to the concrete so to speak, and there is an opportunity to develop a new sociocultural dialogue in the United States that can result in economic revitalization, the dissolution of age-old racial divisions and the full-embodiment of some core Constitutional principles, which would benefit all Americans and serve as a much-needed reminder of the beauty of our representative democracy.
(2) We Don't Need a Hero, But We Need Leadership
Who is the leader of the GOP? There is none. There are various individuals of incredible talent, power and prowess, who certainly hold and carry their weight, but there is no readily identifiable "beacon" so to speak.
While much of my thinking here is predicated upon the Reagan era, gone must be the days of looking so far back in the past that there is nothing to which we should look forward except trying to re-create that past.
The GOP is like a heartbroken lover, who can't come to terms with the fact that, in the words of B.B. King, “the thrill is gone.” Hence, during the party's dominance between 2000 to 2006, far more time was spent latching on to mantles, handling seemingly unresolved geopolitical affairs from the Reagan-Bush era and doing the very things that Republicans ARE NOT supposed to do (i.e. enlarging the size of the federal government, creating national education programs that massively expand the power of the U.S. Department of Education thus reducing the power of state and local school boards to influence curriculum design to name a few).
Furthermore, the era of finding “the one” is essentially over. However, there must exist at least one sociopolitically accessible figure-head surrounded by what I call a critical mass of new thinkers — someone who is not only engaging but longs to engage the electorate.
It's time for a new thrill.
To this effect, I strongly recommend that the party use the gubernatorial campaign of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell as a workable blueprint, or better yet, a “redprint” for winning an election. Also, the speed with which New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was willing to work with Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker, a Democrat, is indicative of the type of cooperation that can define and redefine Republicanism in the mid-21st century.
I realize that it is often said that "Republicans eat their young." Well, if that is truly the case, then may I suggest the party officially change its pro-life position because without a new herd of baby elephants, and soon, the party will not see 2050.
There is no rule saying that a political party must endure forever. Just ask any number of parties that existed in the founding of our Republic which no longer exist. If Egyptian kingdoms can fall into decline, if the Roman Empire can be overrun by Visigoths, and the Titanic sink on its maiden voyage, then the GOP, as we know it, can disappear forever. Stronger entities have met their end in the course of human history.
There must exist a reliable sense of leadership that characterizes the party embodied by a new pool of talent willing to have, and skilled in having, difficult conversations toward the end of improving people's lives—mainly by allowing and enabling people to improve their own lives.
Quality of life is not a partisan issue, it is not even a political issue—it is a human issue, and if the GOP is going to continue to tout it's identification with faith and religion, then the party will have to actualize those tenets of faith in an humble and accessible way.
Which brings us to my final point:
(3) We Have to Stop Being So D*mned Mean!
You've heard it, and I've heard it, “Rethuglicans” are what we're often called or just “repugs” as in “repugnant.”
Again, Hip Hop can teach us something here. During the Source Awards of 1995, Suge Knight, the former CEO of Death Row Records, took the stage to receive an award and made a few disparaging remarks concerning Sean Combs, the CEO of Bad Boy Records.
The events of that evening would unfortunately serve to intensify and escalate the brewing animosities between a small number of East Coast and West Coast artists that resulted in, what some in the media dubbed, “The East Coast/West Coast Rap War.” I disagree with that gross mischaracterization, but that's another discussion for another time.
Bottom line, when Mr. Combs took the stage, he congratulated Mr. Knight and Death Row Records on their success, accepted his award and left the stage. Fifteen years later, it is safe to make the argument (At least, I think it's safe if unless Mr. Knight disagrees O.O) that Mr. Combs ultimately weathered the tumult of that era and prospered in a way that others artists and producers did not.
Undoubtedly, Mr. Combs was/is a futurist. I'm sure he saw the folly in antagonizing Mr. Knight at that event because, in the end, they were executives seeking to grow their businesses and flourish in the music industry. Enduring rivalries can be hazardous for business.
In the same way, the anger and animosity amongst the major parties, and all other involved participants, must cease.
When liberals assail our views, let us respectfully debate the issues based on facts. Now, I understand the human tendency to be angry.
Yes, I can be more than driven to write some salty and sardonic articles from time to time, but even then, I seek to address all of our woundedness, and to be fair, I'm pretty self-deprecating with my ridiculous self (see!).
I have said it before, and I'll say it again—many of our bravest Men and Women in Uniform who gave their lives for this country were members of both major parties, and how dare I believe, for even a moment, that a Democrat who placed his or her life in harm's way on my account is any less American than I because he or she embraces the planks of the Democratic platform!
We're family, and like all family, we often say some rather hurtful things to one another in the heat of the moment, especially when some Americans are suffering in ways not fully understood by other Americans, but at some point, we have to “join, or die,” and not in some symbolic sense, but for the sake of living together peacefully and peaceably, which after all, is why our Servicemen and Servicewomen are laying down their lives.
There are good people on both sides, and I just happen to believe the side on which I stand provides a number of helpful solutions to the problems being faced in my own region (that being the Southeast United States and the Eastern part of my native North Carolina).
We should not cede so much of the electorate that our presumptions about how and why some people vote prevents candidates and elected officials from building, at the very least, a framework for working together across political and ideological lines.
From 2020 onward, antagonism for antagonism's sake will be the death of many political careers.
Therefore, it is time to use political and rhetorical jiu-jitsu in using even the harshest criticism as an opportunity to demonstrate what is great about the United States and redemptive within the rich legacy of the Republican party—and if we happen to exhibit a little swagger and style in the process, that won't hurt a bit.
Obviously, Juelz Santana, is the last person on earth that some might think would inspire political theories, but Mr. Santana (aka LaRon Louis James) associates the Reagan era with that which is good about America, and he is wholly optimistic and boastful about this point to the extent that he identifies his success with President Reagan's time in office...
... and though we cannot cosign the boasting of material excess in which Juelz and so many contemporary rappers have exhibited, we can learn from Juelz, a native of Harlem, who regularly draped himself head-to-toe in patriotic attire following the tragic attacks on September 11th referring to himself as a “9/11 Survivor,” and even engaging in a cathartic, anti-terrorist verbal assault in one of his songs proudly saying, “Before they crashed and divided the towers/I'm hurting, working hard to re-provide the towers/Like, bring'em back up!/Lift'em back up!” [from the single, "Okay, Okay" as featured on the LP, From Me to U]
Granted, that particular song was also filled with more than enough profanity to last from now until the apocalypse, but like so many of us after that life-altering tragedy, he was angry and took the attack on his native city, state and country as a personal offense—as so many of us did. (I also seem to recall Toby Keith indicating that we as Americans will place our boots in a specific part of the Taliban's anatomy, so we should not begrudge Mr. Santana his anger in the face of the attack).
Again, I hold that we as Americans share far more in common than we could ever imagine, but an incredible amount of pride must be swallowed on all sides, and I'm afraid that it seems as if some members of my party much rather save face and lose an election (in the short-term), than lose face in order to win the hearts and minds of citizens—citizens who deserve much better...and in time, we will win elections the right way
This may fall on deaf ears or minds unwilling to concede the validity of a single point I have attempted to make, but our country can never have enough “optimism” or “dynamism."
Finally, it should not be our goal to bring back the Reagan era, or for any other leader to wrap themselves in the mantle of a past leader—perhaps at one time dubbing one's self as the "new Lincoln" or "new Reagan" seemed appropriate, but no longer.
We have to do what all those leaders who proceeded us thought impossible. So, as they look down on us from that mount of privilege on which they now reside, let us make them proud--so proud that if they were living today, they would aspire to emulate our words and deeds.
We have to do those things and become the kinds of people that would cause both Jack Kennedy and Jack Kemp to smile at the same time.
Some would say that I'm too far afield and aloof in thinking such thoughts. I wouldn't doubt it, but it sure does feel good to dream sometimes.
Jerry, I see a lot of the struggle for the future of the Tea Party in things you have covered here. Would it be okay if I post the article on my blog so I can respond with my thoughts as they come up? As initial feedback I woud suggest two areas for you to think about.
One: You mention that the Republican Party needs leadership and a leader. I agree with the first and disagree with the second. During the early days of our nation its strength was there really was no one who could be described as our leader. The founders were unquestionably providing leadership. Yet many of them disagreed on issues even as they agreed on core values. A strength of the Tea Party movement is that there is no leader. A Weakness of the Republican Party is that it is organizationaly designed to limit leadership to the winners of a small number of elections. Head of the RNC. Leader in the House and Senate. President - or our last candidate for President. Yet some of our brightest and best are not willing to put themselves into the constraints of those jobs.
Two: We must find a way to return to the process by which Reagan embraced people without concern for race. You called them non traditional roles for black leaders. I see it as the process of starting to get past race as a constant issue. Alan Keyes has long been my favorite example. There is nothing that indicates Alan is anything but a brilliant American. He is not a black leader. He is an American leader. Thomas Sowell is also someone who is nothing but an American and his pointing out Keyes is interesting. Sowell is not a leader because he is black or even in spite of it. He is a leader because he is a brilliant American writer and philosopher. Clarence Thomas may have started as a black leader but he has moved beyond that because he is brilliant. Many of the attacks on him are rooted in the rage over his moving to a new level in his own growth.
Both of these are areas where I would love to see you expand your thoughts.
Let me first say that you are more than welcome to repost my article on your blog. I'd be honored!
Secondly, I concede the validity of your first point in that you predicate the issue of a de-centralized leadership in a historical context. You are quite correct in saying that neither our Founders or our Framers were given over to the idea of forming political "cults of personality" even though George Washington fought incredibly hard against the deification of his own legacy. What I am most looking forward to in our new Congress is seeing how Tea Party elected members of congress will engage-with or clash-with the establishment on both sides of the aisles. It will be exciting to witness, and my earnest prayer is that they will not compromise, but if they do, then out they go.
On the issue of race, I agree with you that we have certainly reached a moment in time in which our worldviews and outlooks should transcend race, but the reality is that the intellectual climate within the United States and elsewhere will have to be forced to air-out various grievances in the ugliest way possible at least one more time (circa 1955-1968). We're not ready for transcedence as a country--we are more than capable of elevating our conversations from race to policy-based, issue-oriented discussions, but we are simply not ready.
My recent experiences this year have given me more insight into where the deepest divisions remain, and much of it is generational.
The individuals you described: Alan Keyes (holds a PhD and studied abroad while at Columbia University), Thomas Sowell (also holds a PhD and is a brilliant economist, who served 10 years in the USMC), neither of these individuals are average by any standards. They are far and above average. I am never so jaded as to believe that just "any" black man could have been embraced by the GOP as quickly as I was embraced. Let's face it. My brief resume: Two master's degrees before the age of 30, a third graduate degree at 30, former businessowner, ordained minister, five years in marketing at one of the largest companies in the world (Coca-Cola), filmmaker, professional illustrator (storyboard artist for various Coca-Cola commercials and conceptual art for York Industries, a military contractor), universty lecturer at 28, etc. I'm a little beyond average though nowhere in the league of Dr. Keyes or Dr. Sowell.
And honestly, in very few situations did my being black help me, particularly in the academy. When I sat in those lecture halls day after day, I was often the only black person of sometimes 200 students in a room--they know I'm black and whether on conservative or liberal campuses, the fear, the questioning of my abilities and the apprehension to even say "hello" is the same. Race is a problem that I do not see disappearing, but at best, subsiding in lieu of other points of division such as class and economic status.
I honestly think the sooner and the uglier the discussion of race, as everyone has some very serious and legitimate grievances, the better for all of us. The process will be ugly, but many ugly processes have pristine results. Not to mention, there is a demonization of intellectualism prevalent in the black community that threatens to destroy black America in its entirety between now and 2050. Before every black American can feel comfortable simply referring to himself or herself as an American, there is a need to reinstitute a basic level of comfort in being human and intellectually curious in a society, which has a lurid fear of black men in particular. So, I have a lot of in-house work to do even prior to the broader discussion and quasi-dissolution of the race question.
It is of concern that you feel as a country we are not ready to transcend the constant reference to race. First let me say I am not going to equate the challenge in overcoming other physical defects with what has historically been the callenge of being black. However as a long time bald man I am not unfamiliar with people having a negative reaction to something about me that I have no ability to change. It is not unique either. Even keeping it to personal experience and not trying to speak for others, when I was young I was much taller and skinier than anyone else in my high school and the insulting nickname used by those who clearly disliked me for my height still rings in my ears to this day. I was beaten on a number of occassions for no reason other than this group hated me for my height. And now my current struggle with weight in old age invokes equal looks of disgust that I cannot miss. A huge number of people deal with discrimination all their lives that has nothing to do with black. However black people who benefit from affirmative action demand that we look back in history to discrimination that their race suffered as an excuse to denigrate the discrimination of others.
Two years ago America elected a black man to be President. His historically high levels of approval when he took office was a real hope by the majority of our nation that the final remnants of overt racism could be buried. It is my impression that many in the black community expected that meant he would be immune to criticism. When criticism started there was no pride in the fact that Obama was being treated just as any other President would be treated. The opposite seems to be true. They took criticism as proof that racism was still the dominant theme in our nation's character.
Neither reaction can be dealt with intellectually. They are simply unrealistic. So how do we deal with them? Many people struggle with physical attributes they cannot change. As I implied above, I believe we must accept the historical levels of suppression of blacks simply no longer apply. A number of people dislike those who do not meet the ideal of dominant physical conformity of any group. This overwhelming characteristic of human nature will not change. Until the black community is the majority they will always have to deal with that even as bald and fat and too tall and too ugly and handicapped and scarred people of any color will always have to deal with the reality... they are not the dominant physical view of prefection. All are a minority. The pink monkies NEVER fit in at first. They must work harder than the 'good looking' monkies to succeed. Do you see the black community ever dealing with the reality of today's trivial level of rejection - or is the history simply immutable?
I learned the lesson of how to overcome intitial rejection well when I was the poor, misfit, grammar mangling, southerner in a class of wealthy successful rich children from the north who had advanced degrees (that I did not have from any college, much less from Harvard and Yale and M.I.T. and Penn State as they did) while learning to be a computer analyst in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I learned it again when I was the untannable, Irish skinned, over freckled, bald misfit in the tanned and long haired culture of Southern California. If you spend all your time resenting that you are not appreciated you will not have time to overcome the discrimination.
Thomas Sowell had an interesting take on this too. He said that since the black community was so overwhelmingly liberal - that black outreach by conservatives was a mistake. His recommendation was to focus on conservative outreach and conservative communication. With that focus conservatives in the black community would find their fellow conservatives. I think the election of super patriot Colonel Allen West is proof that is happening. Also Marco Rubio and Tim Scott... and Dr. Ada Fisher and Tim Johnson closer to home. What can anyone do except welcome and applaud those who are successful examples that race no longer matters to most conservatives? It will never be unanimous. If prefection in the elimination of racism is required, we might as well abandon all hope right now.
If we are not ready at this point in time to treat race as a minor handicap not seriously different from handicaps millions overcome, what will ever change that will make that possible?