"...these days, selling the Republican Party to even those who share some of the same core values is like trying to sell the cow back his own manure. It just doesn't smell right, especially when you know what it is that is being packaged and sold."__NRAAC, National Chair
In response to the statement made by Michael Steele regarding the resignation of Senator Harry Reid for his comments in his book on President Obama's lack of negro dialect, NRAAC National Chair Jean Howard-Hill says, "If RNC Chair, Michael Steele is truly concerned with racism, then perhaps he needs to first begin within our own party. There are certainly enough issues with race for him to have his hands full in dealing with this right here within the Republican Party. There also are a few within the GOP leadership, he also may wish to ask to step down."
"As a 30 year veteran African American Republican and as the head of the National Republican African American Caucus, I find it offensive to see and hear this kind of meaningless rhetoric. It is simply another way of posturing and playing to partisan unrest. Something this party and nation do not need. We are a nation in need of healing. Racism is a cancer which we all should seek a cure. Not just for ourselves, but for our future generations. We should not be a nation divided by race. We should be a nation that celebrates its ethnicities, as we seek to live and thrive together as one nation."
Howard-Hill says, "Many of us (African American Republicans) have tried to sit back and look the other way, but when this kind of silly and meaningless rhetoric is espoused with such callousness and lack of sincerity, you can't be silent. I don't like having to speak out against my own party or its leadership. But if we do not, this continues, and it makes it appear that all African American Republicans are a part of this foolishness. Because of this, many of us have bowed out of the GOP political mix. It also makes it hard to recruit other African Americans into the Republican Party, at a time when the Party needs to attract us."
"There was a time when I would travel across the United States or connect with my fellow clergy and they were more than amenable to coming into the Republican Party. I would speak to groups and at the end, it was like an altar call with many coming to ask, 'What must I do to become a Republican?' However, these days, selling the Republican Party to even those who share some of the same core values is like trying to sell the cow back his own manure. It just doesn't smell right, especially when you know what it is that is being packaged and sold. Nor does it feel right when you are one of the ones who is struggling and in the GOP trenches trying to survive true racism in real time."
Dr. Jean Howard-Hill holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and has taught political science, full time and as an adjunct at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She also is an ordained pastor and the national chair for the National Republican African American Caucus, an organization of spirit-filled people of faith who are seeking to make a positive impact within the Republican Party and politics in general.
Despite the issues within the GOP, National Chair Howard-Hill says that in 2010, the NRAAC is embarking upon a 100,000 membership drive to recruit African American people of spirit and faith, who are not about dividing America or fighting just for the sake of having a partisan debate.
"At some point," says Hill, "you have to stop the partisan fighting. Those in leadership have to reason and not divide."
Members of the NRAAC seek to live what they preach and to make positive change within the political landscape. Calling for change she decrees, "There has to be a spiritual and political revival within the GOP. There is too much religion and politics, and not enough governing, compassion, reasoning, wisdom and ability to work together for the good of the people and nation," she says.
"Unfortunately, because there has been so much religion and very little living what is preached, it has given a bad name to those who have a deeper and richer relationship with God, where they truly seek to do what is right."
She says, "Religion and hypocrisy within the Republican Party do not mix well. It is like oil and water, and it has got to stop! You cannot use God when it is convenient and expedient for your own purposes, or to judge others, when it is by the same Godly principles that you failed to practice and live. I hate to say it, but my party has become a safe haven for racists and religious hypocrites. Those with a Bible in one hand and so much hate in their hearts and lack of regards for others. This is not how those who know God should live or govern."
Dr. Howard-Hill knows all too well the issues of racism, mean spiritedness, territorism, and religious hypocrisy within the Republican Party as she has written the book, Black Eyes Shut - White Lips Sealed, which tells the story of how racism from the Tennessee GOP led to members of the National Republican African American Caucus and her being blocked, excluded and shunned. According to her, the book has been a well kept secret among Republicans. She says Steele has been sent a copy of the book and is fully aware of this. Therefore, she is not sure why he is not dealing with it, instead of what he cannot control within the Democratic Party. [Excerpts from her book can be found on the Black Olive Branch blog.]
"From being called a nigger, to being threatened and told to stay in my place, I have seen it all," she says. So when I hear silly comments like these being made from of all people, Michael Steele, it goes to the heart of whether or not those who make claims of racism truly have an appreciation of its harm and the detriment it has to the party, and are willing to do something about it other than play games and use it as media ploy."
She adds. "We have some serious problems within the Republican Party; especially down South. This is not to say that all White Republicans are racists. There are many who are not. Nor are all African Americans who are Republicans experiencing this kind of treatment. There are some in states such as California and Ohio who have had the luxury of acceptance and have been embraced by party leadership. However, in states such as Tennessee, unfortunately, this has not been the case. ...So Chairman Steele, we invite you to be fervent in the same commitment you have to challenge Democrats, to also call for a change within the GOP; where what you do actually can have an impact in changing the racial climate in America."