Written by Raynard Jackson, NNPA Columnist
As long as the Republican Party continues to be dominated by the same ol’, same ol’ White male staffers, consultants, and aides, they will continue to alienate the Black community. As long as the Republican Party continues to “showcase” Blacks that have absolutely no connection to the Black community, have no understanding of communications, or no understanding of political strategy, i.e. Stacey Dash, they will continue to be rejected.
I was totally mortified at the comments of Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, as reported by Buzzfeed, the day after his removal from the campaign. According to Buzzfeed, “Lewandowski was asked about the campaign’s failure to return phone calls from prospective volunteers, and also about Trump’s plans to win over minority voters. On the second point, Lewandowski said he made the decision that the campaign would not launch outreach initiatives “pandering” to specific ethnic groups, because Trump’s message was aimed broadly at the entire country, he argued.
If I hear one more Republican claim the Republican Party should not engage in “identity politics” or what they wrongly refer to as “pandering,” I am going to scream. This is one of the most idiotic notions I have ever heard and is a major reason the party has such a difficult time attracting Blacks and other minorities.
Let me first start by defining “identity politics.” IP is simply recognizing that various constituent or demographic groups exist and that they should be identified as such, and that a relevant strategy to target them based on their group profile should also be created. Many Republicans think the world should be colorblind, that we are all Americans, and that all of our issues are the same. Well, adhering to this view, there should be no males or females, no Blacks or Whites, no unions or non-unions and no Christians or Muslims. We’re all just humans. The Democrats go way overboard in the other direction where everything is separated into various groups. This totally dilutes what being American is all about.
But to simply recognize the differences within our country is just plain common sense, not un-American. So, while Corey was denouncing “pandering,” the very next day Trump met with over 900 evangelicals. Is that not pandering? Oh, my bad, it’s only pandering when it involves Blacks or Hispanics. If it involves evangelicals, veterans, or the border patrol union, it’s called campaigning.
Memo to Republicans: if you don’t or can’t see that you have no Blacks on your staff and very few engaged with the party, then there is a problem. Either you are colorblind or simply blind to people of color. In either scenario, there is a huge problem.
What’s even more idiotic is to see many Black Republicans subscribe to this foolish colorblind notion, i.e., the aforementioned Stacey Dash. These are the type of Blacks that Republicans want to highlight all over the media, because they reinforce the party’s preconceived ignorance and apathy towards the Black community.
As one who makes his living from understanding the art of strategic communications and public relations, I have tried ad nauseam to enlighten Republicans on this issue, to no avail.
McDonalds’ and Cadillac advertise to Whites differently than they do to Blacks or Latinos, though they are selling the same product to everyone. They will now use Hip-Hop music in their ads when trying to reach certain demographics versus classical music or use certain athletes and entertainers that resonate with a particular group.
Legendary singer, Barry Manilow, a 72 year-old, White Jew, is not used to sell Ciroc premium vodka for a reason; he is the wrong demographic. Diageo, the owner, has made rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs their brand ambassador because they are targeting the urban market, i.e., Black people. In my world, this is called smart business. Combs has helped to increase Ciroc’s sales 50 fold; they went from 40,000 cases sold per year pre-Combs to over 2.1 million cases per year with Combs. This is what IP gets you in the private sector – profit! This would equate to winning national elections in the political arena.
The Republican’s approach to Ciroc would be to advertise to the whole country, despite the fact that urban Blacks and nightclubs buy most of this product. Yes, we are all Americans, but we all have our own splash of uniqueness; which is good. To take my Ciroc example a step further, Republicans would have hired a White brand ambassador (not Combs) to promote the product to the urban market because they don’t believe in “identity politics;” they are colorblind. This is not a joke. Within the Republican Party, you have many Whites who think they know more about the Black community than someone from within the community.
Solomon said in Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding.” How do you gain understanding of the Black community unless you first recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of that community? So to my Republicans who have this perverted notion of identity politics when it comes to Blacks, please learn to appreciate market segmentation and market demographics and how to exploit them to sell your message to those who have of late been totally repulsed by your foolish notion of colorblindness. Colorblindness has left the Republican Party in a color-bind.