Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Not Sure What’s In the Cup of Tea!

This past weekend, I attended a Republican function in Nashville and had an unexpected opportunity to actually have a chat with a member of the Mid-South Tea Party. Very boldly and candidly, I pointed out to him that as a GOPer of African American decent, I was not sure if I was down with the tea. Reason being? I was just not so sure what was in the tea!

At first it took a few minutes for us to warm up to each other. Of course, that’s important, because no one would dare offer or take a sip from a cold cup of tea. But as the pot kept brewing and when the temperature was just right, we went there.

The discussion was purely honest. I shared with him my uncertainty with what was in the cup of tea brewed by the Tea Party, and went on to explain that any movement which cannot openly denounce racism, calling it out as wrong troubles me. I pointed out that to attack President Obama on his policy is one thing, but to do so on his race or some hysterical pretext of socialism is yet another. I further pointed out that I have a real problem with Christians or anyone who confesses a relationship with God, based upon their individual beliefs, who cannot come together to reason and conduct themselves civilly.

I tried to leave out the fact that as a Republican and African American congressional candidate, I was blatantly ignored and denied the opportunity to participate in a Tea Party debate of Republican candidates a month or two ago. Unfortunately, it got the best of me, and I gave mention to it, making it a little personal I suppose. Nevertheless, I also tried hard not to allow it to cloud my ability to listen and learn more about the movement.

He handed me a card with what they stood for. On it, I did not see any prohibition against racism, violence, mean spiritedness, death threats, and some of the other actions that have been associated with the Tea Party. Yet what I did see in this gentleman, was someone who strongly believed in what he thought was right. He was a good person and that was clear only after moments of watching his reaction to my comments, which were not spoken with the biting of my tongue. The clergy in me, took this point of discernment and sought a way to reach his inner political soul in hopes of a political change of heart or at least an opportunity to steer him in a more positive direction. That chance came when after being so boldly candid in my responses, he asked, “What can we do to change the perception which is portrayed by the media”?

My answer was simple. “You have to stand up and call it out when it is wrong.”

If you are not racist, then when someone appears at your events who is and does things that are racist, you have to publicly keep saying you do not condone this, and ask them to stop doing whatever it is they are doing to portray this kind of image.

He looked puzzled for a moment. Perhaps because he had not thought the solution to be so simple.

We departed as friends and not as enemies. With just a few minutes of talking and reasoning, I understood his frustrations with what was going on in government, and he seemed to have had an appreciation for my opposition to the movement because of perceived racism and lack of civility. But never did either of us deny or try to justify the fact that there is racism in the cup of tea, which until it is no longer a factor, one of African American decent, even if they are Republicans, must remain wary of some of the ingredients in the Tea Party’s tea.

To reach the NRAAC national chair:

Jean Howard-Hill
423-702-5622 NRAAC office

[Dr. Jean Howard-Hill is the author of Black Eyes Shut, White Lips Sealed. She has serves as the national chair for the National Black Republican Women with her late husband, Attorney Bobby Lee Hill serving as the head of the Black Republican Men for Change from 1987 to his death in 1991. After his death up until 1993, she remained head of the organization, and in 1999 combined the two groups to form the National Republican African American Caucus.

She has taught full time and as an adjunct, American Government, State and Local Government, and International Politics and Culture of Nonwestern Countries at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, and was voted 2006 Outstanding Professor of the year. Additionally, from 1976 to 1979, she designed and directed the "Democracy In Action" Program, which was a civics program taught in the local school systems. Howard-Hill also is a local political commentator and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville College of Law. She also is ordained clergy and heads The Healing Place Ministries International, overseeing 47 ministries throughout Africa.

She also is a TN third district congressional candidate. If elected, she would be the first African American Republican and female to be elected from the third district. Her campaign website can be found at: http://ladyjforcongress.com and http://jeanhowardhillforcongress.com; http://jeanhowardhillcampaignnews.blogspot.com; http://blogwithladyjforcongress.blogspot.com; http://jeanhowardhillforcongress.ning.com; http://www.youtube.com/JHHCongress; http://twitter.com/ JHHCongress.]

The National Republican African-American Caucus is an organization that is comprised of Spirit filled people of faith within the African American community, that works in conjunction with local, state and national party efforts to embrace, and offer African-American Republicans opportunities for inclusion and involvement in the Republican Party, and builds bridges between the African-American community and the Republican Party. In doing so, it seeks to carry out the philosophy and mission set before President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas to build a stronger and more inclusive Republican Party, where those guiding principles are more important than politics.

More information on the NRAACcan be found at:

http://www.nraacaucus.org; http://nraacaucus.ning.com [NRAAC] National Republican African American Caucus Social Issue Network (members only); http://nraac.blogspot.com [NRAAC Blog]; http://youthonthehorizons.blogspot.com [NRAAC Youth on the Horizons Blog]; http://the-twig.blogspot.com [NRAAC New Generation-New Direction Blog]; and
http://theblackolivebranch.blogspot.com [NRAAC National Chair's Blog]. Each State Caucus can be accessed by state. See related links at http://www.nraacaucus.org/index_files/Page816.htm. Also can be found on the RNC group page at http://our.gop.com/Groups/National_Republican_African-American_Caucus_NRAAC.

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