The worst prejudices and preconceived notions are the ones that you don’t even realize you have. Take this story about African-American Republican candidates in 2010 – particularly Tim Scott, who is well on his way to winning his district in South Carolina handily. A feel-good kind of tale, right? See if you think that after you read this section:
With black unemployment at 15.6 percent, African-Americans are questioning what Democrats have done for them. What’s more, this year’s black Republican candidates were far from being upper-middle-class racial mascots. Scott grew up in a poor Charleston neighborhood with a divorced mother who worked double shifts as a nurse’s assistant. Vernon Parker (who lost his August primary) was born to a single mother in Houston, and grew up in California with his grandmother, a housekeeper.
Still, black Republicans will have to face four decades of skepticism about GOP bona fides on race, not to mention the opposition of a Democratic party with the first African-American president as its head.
Why the heck should anybody expect candidates like Scott to have to deal with that?
I’m cheating, of course: I know the answer already. The answer is that this Allen Guelzo guy – and probably a whole lot of other, at best left-center pundits – are still stuck in this weird mindset that African-American candidates can’t win except in districts specifically designed for them. Given that there’s only one member of the CBC who represents a district with less African Americans in it than the national average (Keith Ellison, MN-05 [13%]), it is perhaps understandable. Bloody rude, but understandable.
Don’t get me wrong: the GOP will work with the racially gerrymandered districts that various civil rights laws have blessed/saddled (depending on your point of view) us with. We’ll even cynically use those laws to minimize Democratic encroachment generally. But that doesn’t mean that we have to like that kind of gerrymandering, or that we have to follow the Democrats lead and tacitly restrict people to representation of specific districts on the basis of their skin color.
Oops: I keep typing stuff like that out. I’m a horrible person, really.