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Where were the black faces at the Republican Convention?

LACKING BLACK SUPPORT: Republican nominee Mitt Romney arrives to address the 2012 National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida.

IF THE most segregated time in the United States is 11 a.m. Sunday mornings, then the least-diverse time in America is every four years at the end of the summer at the Republican National Convention.

Last week’s convention in Tampa Bay, Florida was the fourth that I have attended, and it is by far the least diverse. I now know what America would look like if all blacks and other people of colour mysteriously disappeared. Reporters were calling me, practically begging me to find them some blacks to interview for their various media outlets. Is this really the 21st century? I have not been showered with this much attention since I was a little baby!

But even more alarming than the lack of blacks as convention attendees, delegates or Mitt Romney staff members is the lack of blacks in the pipeline to be future party operatives.

When I came into the party with George W. Bush there was a pipeline of other African Americans who worked for the Republican National Committee in the headquarters and staffers who worked for Reagan. We are now some of the most experienced operatives in the game; many of us have our own firms or work for corporate America.

Unfortunately, we are never consulted on party issues unless there is an overtly black angle or, more typically, someone in the party leadership has done something stupid and they expect us to go on camera to provide cover. Those of us with integrity have never allowed ourselves to be used in such a manner, though, some blacks have.

DECISION

Last week , RNC Chairman Reince Priebus didn’t appear to have any African Americans in significant decision making positions on his staff. The same can be said for the Senate and House campaign committees. So, where will the next generation of black political operatives come from?
If there are no blacks in these pipelines, then the party has made the decision that there will be no blacks in the party’s future. Imagine there were no college football programmes; where would the NFL get its players from? Who would provide players for their future?

The Republican line is that the overwhelming majority of blacks will vote for Barack Obama because he is African American. I find this thinking extremely insulting as a black Republican. The reason the majority of blacks will vote for Obama is because Republicans have not given African Americans a reason to vote for Republicans or Mitt Romney.

I was embarrassed at the lack of diversity at the Republican convention. Have the Republicans not noticed the demographic changes that are taking place in America? Numerically, there are not enough old, white, balding males to win a national election.

The sad thing is that many of the party leaders agree with me in private conversations, but over the years, they have done absolutely nothing to address this issue.

There has been more said than done when it comes to changing the whiteness of the party.
In the immortal words of the Doobie Brothers: “What a fool believes, no wise man has the power to reason away; what seems to be is always better than nothing at all.”

If the Republican Party think they can continue to have a white strategy for electoral victory, what a fool!

Raynard Jackson, a registered Republican and political consultant, is president and chief executive of Raynard Jackson & Associates, a Washington D.C.- based firm.

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