Leslie Goffe takes a good look at the “black man” who claimed he was the “real black man” and Obama was not. The man who once said: “Don’t blame Wall Street. Don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!” The black man who did not use the term “African-American” because it “is socially acceptable for some people, but I am not some people.” The man who said: “I’m sure my ancestors go all the way back to Africa, but I feel more of an affinity for America than I do for Africa.” And he was the Republican Party’s great black hope for 2012 – until some white brunettes turned up this December. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the “real black man” Herman Cain!
“Our blacks are so much better than their blacks,” Coulter claimed, as if talking about property. “To become a black Republican…you [must] have fought against probably your family members, probably your neighbours, you have thought everything out and that’s why our blacks are so much better than their blacks.”
Coulter said President Obama was “not a descendant of the blacks that suffered these Jim Crow laws”, and “not the son of American blacks that went through the American experience”. Obama, Coulter said dismissively, is “the son of a Kenyan.”
But Harry Belafonte, the singer and civil rights activist, says he would rather the son of a Kenyan were his president than someone like Herman Cain, a man he described as a “false negro”, a “bad apple” and a creation of wealthy white conservatives who want to confuse black voters.
Belafonte said Cain was created by the Republican Party as a “representation for what they call ‘black’, for what they call the ‘real negroes’… the kind of voices America should be listening to.”
But there are other black Republicans in America besides Cain. In 2011, Jennifer Carroll, a conservative Republican and immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, became the first African-American, and first woman, elected Lieutenant Governor of Florida.
In 2010, Tim Scott, of South Carolina, and Allen West, of Florida, became the first black Republicans elected to the US Congress from Deep South states since the “Reconstruction” period after the American Civil War, a time when because recently freed slaves were a majority in many southern states they were able to elect their own to the US Congress.
In 1990, black Republican Douglas Wilder became the first African-American elected governor of Virginia, the state where African slavery in America first began and where the secessionist, pro-slavery Confederate States of America had their headquarters during the American Civil War. In 1966, Edward Brooke, a Republican from Massachusetts, in the American northeast, became the first African-American elected to the US Senate since the post-Civil War period.
In all, 98 African-American Democrats and 27 African-American Republicans have served in the US House of Representatives as congressmen and women and in the Senate as senators.
After Obama made history as the first black president in 2008, the Republican Party made a little history of its own when it named an African-American, for the first time, the chairman of its ruling body, the Republican National Committee. The appointment of Michael Steele was intended to show that the Republican Party was friendly and inviting to African-Americans.
Besides those in politics, black Republicans can be found in other spheres, too. There is Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court judge, and there are the conservative talk show hosts Larry Elder, author of the book What’s Race Got to Do with It?: Why It’s Time to Stop the Stupidest Argument in America, and Lenny McAllister, author of the book Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative).
There is also the Raging Elephants, a group of young black Republicans, who caused a stir recently when they plastered two controversial posters, meant to encourage African-Americans to join the Grand Old Party (GOP), as some call the Republican Party, on roadside billboards in Texas. One of the posters said: “GOP is the new Black” and featured a group of young, prosperous-looking African-Americans. The other poster featured a photo of
Martin Luther King Jnr. and said, “Martin Luther King Jnr. was a Republican.”
King Jnr’s father was a registered Republican. But no one knows for sure how King Jnr. voted. This didn’t stop the National Black Republican Association claiming that Dr King was a Republican and that African-Americans owe allegiance to the Republican Party because President Abraham Lincoln, “The Great Emancipator”, was a Republican and because Republican president Ronald Reagan signed into law a national holiday for King Jnr. in 1983.
Even rappers like Jay-Z and Nas have been talking, or rapping, about Republicans. In their song Black Republican, they say, sounding like Herman Cain: “I feel like a Black Republican, money I got comin’ in, Can’t turn my back on the hood, I got love for them, Can’t clean my act up for good, too much thug in ’em, Probably end up back in the hood.”
Herman “The Hermanator” Cain won’t end up back in the hood, where he started out. He will, instead, return to what many say he did best: earning millions of dollars giving speeches to big businessmen on the lucrative conservative lecture circuit and writing best-selling books like Leadership is Common Sense, and his most recent one, This is Herman Cain! – My Journey to the White House, published in October before his campaign went awry.
So, what did Cain get out of his failed run for the presidency? African-American author John T. Mills says he got a lot of “attention to grease his outsize ego … and bragging rights to say that not only did he run for president, but for a brief moment, he was actually the leader in his race.”
And though Cain is out of the race, he refuses to leave the political stage. “I am not going to be silenced and I’m not going away,” said Cain.
Asked how he felt about the early end to his campaign, he said, “I’m at peace with my God. I’m at peace with my wife, and she is at peace with me.”