The Mississippi-born black protest writer Richard Wright, a master craftsman, utilized the novel form of expression to elucidate through theme, characters and setting what he saw as the true political reality for American blacks.
Wright’s novel, The Outsider, revealed the battle between socialism and fascism for the very souls of black Americans.
For me, as a late 1950s youngster trying to understand the world, especially how people of African descent fit into it, the story signaled a warning that white nationalism comes at black people from both the left and right of world politics. Wright ends his novel with the two white antagonists – a communist and a fascist (left and right) – beating each other to death. Both exhort the black protagonist for help. But he watches the bloody mess until all is still. Then, he leaves.
Traditionally Republican because the Republican Party had its origin as the anti-slavery party, black people who could vote began to trickle into the Democratic Party due to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-era New Deal programs. Former U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater’s right-wing 1964 presidential campaign, coupled with the civil rights movement, all but denuded the Republican Party of black membership.
The political left and right became an ever-increasing anomaly for black people.
After Republican President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, and the institution of government-sanctioned terrorism perpetrated upon black Americans, black people who could vote in the South were mostly not allowed to register and vote Republican.
Disillusioned by the preponderant liberal methods of placating blacks and controlling their voting block, southern white Democrats called “Dixiecrats,” bolted the party for the budding conservative movement spawned by the Republican Party. Thus, there were two political party reversals of the forces that fought the Civil War.
Both political parties are now somewhat split into thirds. There are Reagan Democrats, moderates and a seemingly dominating liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Also, there are moderate Republicans, conservatives and neo-conservatives. Southern neo-conservatives (mostly former Dixecrats) want to lead the party.
President Barack H. Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign cut a swath through ethnic, age and gender mainstreams along liberal, moderate and independent fault lines. But white nationalists of both the left and the right will do any and everything in an attempt to control him. Liberal congressional leaders will cut deals with neo-conservatives to serve a collective historical aim that I call “the politics of containment.” They seem to feel that the status quo must be protected at all cost!
Enter two interesting political figures not yet mainstays on the national political mainstream scene. One is Jim Greer, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, who, of course, is a white man. The other is Florida State Representative Jennifer Carroll, a black woman representing Jacksonville and Duval County. They have put together an entity called the African American Republican Leadership Council (AARLC).
If you’ve heard about Jim Greer in the national news, then you know that he campaigned for Michael Steele to become the first black chairman of the National Republican Party. Greer’s vote won the election for Steele, who has since been getting his sea legs and is working on strengthening the three-legged stool upon which the Republican elephant can stand.
Greer and Carroll sincerely want to expand the Republican base in Florida as a model for the nation – especially southern states that are fearful of losing whites by bringing in blacks, Hispanics and other non-Anglo Saxon ethnics.
Last Friday, June 26, Rep. Carroll’s AARLC held a “Black Media Roundtable Discussion” in Orlando with black media representatives from around the state. This was a smart start. All the suggestions and proposals were right on target in an almost three-hour discussion with people who really knew what they were saying.
Greer enthusiastically participated, asking and answering questions. He seemed to feel relieved when participants indicated that they understood what a difficult task he has, particularly in convincing most conservatives and neo-conservatives to do business with black people and to interact politically.
Greer and Carroll got exactly what they wanted: a frank and meaningful discussion, complete with proposed tasks, activities and expected outcomes.