Whoa! How About This Guy?

While researching a project we’re working on which isn’t quite ready for a public unveiling just yet we came across this video…how cool is this guy?

The guy in the video’s name is Apostle Claver Kamau-Imani, and he’s a motivational speaker based in Houston. He also has a site at RagingElephants.org which focuses on Texas and national politics and seeks to introduce conservatism into the black community there.

Want some more? Here you go…

There’s something of a debate going on between folks who think the Republican Party needs to work on emphasizing the contributions of black conservatives in order to defeat this narrative of the party as rich and old and white and others who are irritated at the concept that the GOP has to play along with the Left’s construct of people being tied to interest groups.

A good example of this debate is the Kira Davis-Angry White Dude dustup last week. That began with an open letter that Davis, a black conservative blogger and talk show host, penned to Reince Priebus…

We’ve had to take a hard look at the reality of how the GOP is perceived in the very communities we are trying to protect. I was encouraged to hear more and more Republicans acknowledging we have an image problem and discussing ideas on how to change that.

Then I turned on the TV and saw you discussing diversity in the GOP with some media talking head. I saw Jeb Bush making the rounds in what looks like a precursor to a 2016 run. I saw Karl Rove pontificating about diversifying the party. In short, I saw a bunch of rich, middle-aged white men talking about how we need to change the perception of the GOP as a party of rich, middle-aged white men.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I love older white guys. My Grandpa was an older white guy and I’m not going to lie — I wouldn’t kick Sean Connery out of my bed…even now. What I’m talking about is a paradigm shift; a complete public image makeover.

Davis suggests that makeover take a rather unusual turn…

I’m sorry, but throwing a rich white guy in front of a bunch of people who have been taught from kindergarten to distrust rich white guys is not going to cut it. I have a suggestion for a new strategy, and some people will not like it because it involves a few people getting out of the way and/or making room for new faces. Some people will have to decide if their status is more important to them than their country.

Yes, the contrast is that stark. Here’s my plan:

From now on the official party strategy should be to only send minority Republicans to do public events/interviews/appearances. Every picture, every brochure, every interview, every meet and greet, everyTHING the GOP does between now and 2016 should have a non-white face at the forefront.

And there’s another piece to Davis’ suggestion…

Aside from media appearances, we need more support for the plethora of conservative minority bloggers and hosts out there. I understand that you, Mr. Priebus, may not be comfortable wading in to the South side of Chicago to make a case for Republican principles; but there are those of us who are ready and willing.

We’re already there, or we came from there or we go back there often. We know our communities and we are already used to being ridiculed and treated cruelly by those who see us as ‘sellouts’ or ‘Uncle Toms’. We’re not afraid to be called names. We’d love to go and spark debate. We’d be honored to provide a forum where our communities can come and hear the real message of the party of Abolition straight from the horse’s mouth. But we also have families to feed and rent to pay.

Stop investing millions of dollars in professional political consultants who bring you the same results you’ve seen in the last TWO presidential cycles and throw a significantly less amount at bloggers and activists who are ready to persuade, debate and win hearts where it counts the most. Alfonzo RachelChris Arps and the team at MoveOnUp.org,SooperMexican, Project 21, (and of course me, Kira Davis –YouTube personality and dangerously attractive IJReview blogger) are just a few of the legion of minority pundits and bloggers waiting for the chance to fight on a larger battlefield for our values.

We don’t have to touch the message. The message of our party is the same as it’s ever been and ever should be: freedom is the only real way to ensure prosperity. That timeless message will always stay the same.

Angry White Dude offered a retort that wouldn’t quite pass muster at the Dale Carnegie School…

So much for that content of character thing. Focus on pigment! At least if you’re talking about minority voters! That was the message black conservative Kira Davis delivered to GOP Chair Reince Priebus in an open letter. She believes the Republican Party is identified as an “old white man” party and needs to embrace diversity to win in 2014. Isn’t that nice? Even conservatives are now against evil ol’ white men! But she’s a minority. She can say such things. Say no more.

Davis’ letter is proof why her idea to wipe white men from the face of the Republican Party won’t work. Minorities vote on pigment and government social programs. So rather than vote for the best person for the job, Davis says to put that all aside. We need to vote for the best minority for the job! Then the 98% of black women who voted for Obama will be happy. Of course, they’ll still vote 98% for the next Democrat but they won’t view the Republican Party as the party of evil old white men. They’ll view the Republicans as the party of old white men who have put a few Uncle Toms on camera.

And a bit more…

I’m one who tries to live the dream of MLK. I try to judge people by their actions. While I’m very disappointed with the overall performance of blacks in America, I try not to hold that performance against individuals who act and live responsibly. I’m a trashist. I don’t like trashy people of any race. And that includes blacks. And whites. And Hispanics. And every other.

I will not sell out my belief system to chase votes from racist minorities. Even if it gets me on television. Too bad Kira Davis doesn’t believe the same. But, of course, there’s a difference between Kira and me. She’s a racist.

The fact is, both positions have a degree of truth to them – and some baggage.

Davis goes overboard when she suggests that the GOP throw its future over to black conservative bloggers and talk show hosts. There are some great folks out there who need more exposure than they’re getting, and Apostle Claver Kamau-Imani, the guy on the videos above, is a good example. But to demand that the GOP throws away some of its brightest advocates – like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, for example – in favor of folks who haven’t made it on the big stage isn’t a particularly serious suggestion.

On the other hand, though, when Davis suggests that black conservative activists, bloggers and others are the people who the party needs to present to black voters as the front men for its outreach into the black community she has it precisely right. That’s a concession to the tribal nature of identity politics fomented by the Left since FDR first started breaking the country up into interest groups served by the federal government, and philosophically we should all be at least a little offended at having to do it. But that’s reality – we have some 15 percent of the electorate the Republican Party is getting less than 10 percent of, there is a lot of room for growth in Republican voting strength in that segment, the party has been demonized by Democrats and the “civil rights establishment” to such an extent that it’s difficult to use mainstream GOP figures to attract that vote and it’s been so long that the party has done any real, substantive outreach in that community they really don’t even know how to do it.

Given all those things, you’ve got to have people who look and sound like folks in the black community to carry that message or it’s not going to get carried very far. When you’ve been able to find ideas in common between the middle-aged well-to-do white folks in the suburbs and the black folks in the inner city – and as Apostle Claver and Kira Davis both note, there are a lot more than you think, then you can start to operate on the basis of a color-blind society. But right now, there is too much distrust between those two identity groups for crossover appeals to get anywhere, and that’s exactly how the Democrats want it.

You’ll only fix that by promoting black conservatives and getting them on the ground in those communities to agitate, to start fires in the Left’s camps and to win some arguments. And Davis is absolutely right, as even Angry White Dude recognizes, that using resources to generate that agitation – which means paying people – is a far smarter idea than allowing Karl Rove to soak up more donor cash to back the snoozer candidacies of the Tommy Thompsons, Connie Macks and George Allens of the world.

But AWD, while he’s a bit lacking in couth – and the “throw your hands up and write off the black vote because blacks are too committed to free stuff from the government to ever leave the Democrat Party” attitude pervading his piece on the subject is definitely lacking in couth – has a point.

The only real attempt the GOP has made in the last 25 years to penetrate the black community was Jack Kemp’s outreach to it along economic lines. Kemp did some herculean work in an effort to craft Republican policies that would help break up the cycle of inner-city poverty, and if any of what he proposed had ever been actually implemented in a wholesale fashion it might have ushered in an era of competitiveness where Republicans could have occasionally gotten elected mayor or city council member in some of the bigger cities.

But it didn’t, and AWD is probably right as to the reason why. People who are drawing government assistance don’t care about tax policy, because taxes are for somebody else to pay – and if that somebody else, who you don’t know and doesn’t look like you, gets their taxes raised to pick up the cost of more free stuff from the government it’s just not going to offend you enough to change your political leanings. So free-market policies, as advantageous as they are in growing an economy and therefore perhaps helping to better the lives of the black community in inner cities, won’t get you all that many more votes.

This is not to suggest that all blacks are on welfare – the figure is somewhere between 12 and 15 percent, which is significantly more than the national average of 4.1 percent but still far less than the percentage you’d expect based on the cultural presentation of the demographics. While it’s true that in 2010, only 50.7 percent of the black population was in the labor force (compared to a national average of 57 percent), we’re still looking at better than half of the black population in the country holding employment. So when we speak in these generalities we’re talking about the marginal differences here.

And another marginal difference – while the national average within the labor force is that 16 percent are employed in the public sector, in the black community the number is 20 percent. And while some six percent of the population overall are business owners or self-employed, the number in the black community is only 3.6 percent.

Those numbers are actually a lot better than the common perception would indicate, but they still paint a picture of Black America in which supply-side economics, even well-articulated, probably can’t be expected to move the needle. Emphasizing the curative economics of low taxes and small government to a population which disproportionally either works for the government or gets a check from it simply won’t work as an electoral strategy.

But here’s the thing – there are degrees of success between the drubbing Mitt Romney took from Barack Obama in the black community in last year’s election and winning the black vote. Some 40 percent of black Americans either work for private companies or own a business (that includes the self-employed); what if the GOP was able to make loyal voters out of half of them? That would mean Republicans could get 20 percent of the black vote in a normal election.

That would be the end of the Democrats winning Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Missouri, Pennsylvania or Michigan. It would probably mean the Democrats would never have a Senate majority or the White House again barring a major demographic shift.

And it would likely have made Romney the 45th President of the United States.

The party has largely proven it can’t get there through Jack Kemp’s free-market economic pitch. But there are lots of other ways to appeal to the black community. We’ve talked about lots of them here before.

And Apostle Claver Kamau-Imani is the kind of fearless orator the party should be identifying and promoting and, yeah, probably paying. The NRA was smart enough to find Colion Noir, who we think is terrific, and enlist him as a spokesman. In almost no time Noir annihilated Russell Simmons’ idiotic arguments on Twitter and opened up a new front in the 2nd Amendment battle.

So Davis probably wins the debate on points. The GOP needs to cultivate a cadre of black advocates and leaders. But it needs to cultivate them for use in the black community in an effort to break up that monolith. White voters don’t particularly need to be told that the party isn’t all that white and old, and that’s where Davis’ arguments fell.

But as white folks, we can listen to Noir and the Apostle all day. These guys are great. And if folks like them want to run for something we’re more than happy to do what we can to support them.

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