The Tea Party is working hard to shed their racist image, according to a piece in the Washington Post. Amidst the highly publicized racial epithets and racially-charged signage, even the leadership behind FreedomWorks and Tea Party Nation—two of the movement’s most prominent groups—recognize that racism is not a good look.
If people involved in the movement don’t think it’s racist, the rest of us certainly do: According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 61 percent of the Tea Party’s opposition think that the movement is steeped in racism—bad news for any party that’s already struggling to be taken seriously in today’s political climate.
Tea Partiers shouldn’t have any trouble evoking the “My Black Friend” counter-argument to allegations of racism, now that Black Tea Partiers are making their presence known. Like the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot, everyone is trying to get a glimpse of them in action. They’re few and far between, but in “Black Tea Party Members Speak” over at The Root, a folk singer and a Chicago-based conservative talk radio host—both proud Black Tea Party activists—explain what attracts them to such an overwhelmingly white, rural group.
Their biggest gripes are with the Democrats—whom they perceive as resting on their laurels and taking the Black vote for granted, rather than actually addressing issues within their communities. They also accuse Democrats of creating a world where Black people receive “cradle-to-grave” government benefits, lulling them into a stupor of dependency. Standard Tea Party boilerplate for sure, but the racist undertones behind their tragically misguided characterizations are even more puzzling coming from Black people.
What I found most alarming was that the bulk of their issues with America under Obama had to do with a perception of increased social welfare—could it be that they’re victims of the same racist political interpretation as some of their Tea Party brethren? Their attempts to distance themselves from the rest of us are downright contemptuous, like they’re going out of their way to prove that despite their Blackness, they’re just like anyone else in the movement—almost like they’re saying, “We’re Black, but not one of those Black people.”