Why Black Republicans Aren’t Persuading Black Voters

“Black Vote, Black Power,” a collaboration between Keith Boykin and Word In Black, 
examines the issues, the candidates, and what’s at stake for Black America in the 2024 presidential election.

If you want to know why Black people don’t vote for Republicans, just look at the Black Republicans.

America’s top Black Republican, Tim Scott, claims that “woke supremacy is as bad as white supremacy.” What on earth is woke supremacy? Scott is so desperate for white approval that he voted against the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, even while three of his white Republican colleagues voted for her. 

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Then there’s Byron Donalds, who claimed that “the Black family was together” under Jim Crow. Donalds is one of 26 House Republicans who refused to sign a letter denouncing white supremacy. And he was one of only two Black members of Congress who voted to overturn the 2020 election results, which would have disenfranchised Black voters in Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, and other cities.

And just in time for Juneteenth, three Black Republicans in the House of Representatives (Donalds, Burgess Owens, and Wesley Hunt) voted to restore a racist, Confederate monument at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Republicans love Black people — who love white people.

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson speaks at a rally for Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC, on Saturday, March 2, 2024. (Photo by Scott Muthersbaugh for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Tim Scott and Byron Donalds have an excuse, but it’s not a good one. They are so desperate to be Trump’s running mate that they refuse to upset his base or hold him accountable even after he was convicted of 34 felonies. What Black man with 34 felony convictions gets a pass from Republicans?

But one of the most notorious Black Republicans today is North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson. Robinson tells Black people, “nobody owes you anything for slavery,” and invokes the history of Black abolitionists and civil rights leaders to excuse white people from accountability. “If anybody owes, it’s you,” he says. 

Robinson became popular in the GOP precisely because he loves to attack Black people. He called the Black Panther movie “trash” made by a “satanic marxist,” said that Halle Berry, Mariah Carey, and Issa Rae wear “whore dresses,” and repeatedly misgendered former first lady Michelle Obama as a man

Then there’s Winsome Sears, the gun-toting Virginia lieutenant governor, who is upset because she thinks critical race theory is being taught in schools. It’s not

Black lives really don’t matter to Republicans.

Next up is Daniel Cameron, the former Kentucky Attorney General who said the police killing of Breonna Taylor was “justified” and declined to charge the officers responsible for her death. I guess Black lives really don’t matter to Republicans.

Or how about Larry Elder? The 72-year-old Black Republican lived through Jim Crow segregation, Rosa Parks’s arrest, and Dr. King’s assassination, but he told Fox News that Donald Trump’s indictment was “probably the most egregious thing I’ve ever seen in the history of our republic.” Was he kidding?

Or Ben Carson, the Trump appointee who thinks systemic racism ended with the civil rights movement, says Colin Kaepernick would never have been criticized if he had just said he loved America, and claims that Obamacare is the “worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” Really, Dr. Carson? Providing health care to Black people is worse than segregation, lynchings, and mass incarceration?

And we can’t forget Herschel Walker, the former football player who lied about being his high school valedictorian, lied about graduating from college, had no experience in government, and didn’t even live in Georgia when Republicans recruited him to run for the Georgia Senate seat against Raphael Warnock. Walker’s own son, Christian, admitted that his father was picked mainly “because he was the same skin color as his opponent.”

After years of Republicans weaponizing Dr. King’s line about judging people “by the content of their character,” when it came time to pick a candidate to run against Rev. Warnock, the pastor of Dr. King’s church, they picked an inexperienced Black guy based on the color of his skin.

Last but not least is Clarence Thomas, the Harlan Crow-funded Black conservative who replaced the legendary Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court through affirmative action, and then joined five of his white colleagues to kill affirmative action for everyone else. Thomas also cast the decisive vote to gut the Voting Rights Act that protects Black people at the polls.

None of them represent Black districts or interests.

What these Black Republicans have in common is that none of them were chosen by Black people. They may have been born in Black communities decades ago, but none of them represent Black districts or interests. That means they have no accountability to the majority of Black Americans.

And that’s important because Black and white people, like Democrats and Republicans, see the world differently. A new study from the Pew Research Center found that nearly 80 % of Biden supporters say that white people benefit from racial advantages in society, while only 22% of Trump supporters say this. 

In order for Black Republicans to stay relevant with the base, they have to pretend — or in some cases, they may even believe — that racism is not an issue in America. But the majority of Black people know better. If Black Republicans spent more time in Black communities, they’d know it too.

“Black Vote, Black Power,” a collaboration between Keith Boykin and Word In Black, 
examines the issues, the candidates, and what’s at stake for Black America in the 2024 presidential election.

Keith Boykin is a New York Times–bestselling author, TV and film producer, and former CNN political commentator. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, Keith served in the White House, cofounded the National Black Justice Coalition, cohosted the BET talk show My Two Cents, and taught at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York. He’s a Lambda Literary Award-winning author and editor of seven books. He lives in Los Angeles.

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