Most of that hesitation stems from my lack of knowledge of the man. In fact, all that I knew about the guy until recently was that he used to be the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, a chain that I frequented when I had money to spare as a student at The Ohio State University. It was okay…but when I came back home to the Delaware Valley, I realized that Godfather’s was a greasy, nasty mess compared to what I get at places like Ralph and Ricky’s or Gianfranco Pizza Rustica here in South Philly.
But I also hesitated because whenever you write about African American Conservatives, and you’re not one, anything you say that isn’t totally complimentary is seen as having a bias against conservatives and blacks that don’t “toe the line” of the Democratic Party. You especially get that particular knock when you point out that most of what comes out of these African American conservatives mouths sounds (a) unfeeling, (b) unrealistic and (c) not at all in tune with what’s really going on in the African American community.
However, since I’ve already annoyed a lot of folks by saying that I think it’s more than a little stupid to demand that Rep. Anthony Weiner resign over putting a picture of his privates out on the Internet when the only person who should be pissed off about this is his wife, I figured, why not? I’m feeling adventurous…
So here goes…
I started to pay attention to Herman Cain just because he’s a black dude running as a Republican and that kind of commands attention. My twin brother is a Republican and that has led to more than one, let’s say, nasty argument. He particularly likes trying to explain the First Amendment to me, a part of the Constitution that conservatives really seem to have a special scorn for…
I also began paying attention because he’s one of those Tea Party folks and I’m really interesting in seeing if that means he’ll be taken seriously or if he’ll get the same treatment that Alan Keyes got in 2008. For those of you who don’t remember the Keyes campaign, I’ll keep it short. He was a black conservative that ran for president. He was treated like an interloper. He didn’t get to participate in any of the Republican debates. He got no traction.
So far, Cain has been invited to all of the right conservative parties. My guess is that this is going on because (a) his Tea Party affiliation and (b)because there are some Republicans out there who are hoping that he can chip away at President Obama’s support in the African American community.
Cain himself believes that. He says that African Americans are actually conservatives.
His argument does have some merit. I say this because there are certain topics that when you discuss them with black folks, you might as well be having a conversation with a rock-ribbed member of the Christian Right.
For example, let’s talk about gay rights. To be exact, let’s point out the fact that in many ways the struggle for rights for gays and lesbians mirrors that of the struggle for rights that blacks went through in the 1960s. I did that in a column that I wrote a long, long time ago regarding the stabbing of a gay man by a black University of Arizona student. The stabbing was a pretty blatant hate crime and I said that prejudice is bad, no matter who espouses it.
I won’t get into the emails I got from one dude about that. Let’s just say that everything from my blackness to my sexuality was questioned.
And I definitely won’t get into the fact that I’m still waiting for my mom to have “the talk” with me, and I’m 47 years old!
(Remember this the next time that you see a statistic showing that HIV/AIDS is going through the Black Community like Grant went through Richmond…)
But where Cain might have a problem with getting Blacks to join him for a cup of Tea is when he says stuff like “Blacks are too poor to Tea Party.”
And where he might have a problem getting anyone else to take him seriously is when he says stuff like he won’t sign any bill over three pages long if he’s president and that his Middle East policy would consist of giving Israel everything it wants at the expense of the Palestinians.
Admittedly, there’s not much that Herman Cain and I have in common.
But I hope that he does really well because Black folks need to be involved on all sides of the spectrum. I may not agree with anything Cain says, but I’m glad that he’s a part of the conversation.
Let’s see how long he stays there.