Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Your Black Politics: What do we Make of Michael Steele?

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III, Your Black World, Howard University 

Not to be outdone, in response to America electing its first African-American President, on January 30, 2009, the Republican National Committee (RNC) elected Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, as its chairman. It was a long and painful process, but on the sixth and final ballot, for the first time in its history, the Republican Party elected an African-American to manage its affairs.

    During his acceptance speech, Chairman Steele said, "To Americans who believe in the future of this country. To those who stand in difference with us, it's time for something completely different, and we're gonna bring it to them. We're gonna bring this party to every corner, every boardroom, every neighborhood, every community and we're gonna say to friend and foe alike: We want you to be a part of this, we want you to work with us, and for those of you who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over."

    These were very powerful and encouraging words, especially coming from an intelligent African-American man who was speaking to a political party dominated by white men who are not used to African-Americans speaking to them so forcefully and directly. To bring forth "something completely different"; to take the party to "friend and foe alike," to "knock over" decades of neoconservative ideology and racism would take a Superman. Unfortunately, these encouraging and powerful words ring hollow when compared to the reality of Chairman Steele's actions. Michael is no Superman. He's not "The Man of Steele."

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