Overplaying the Race Card

Originally posted at the Center for Community Change blog.

The race card

Racism still alive/They just be concealin’ it — Kanye West, Never Let Me Down

Hearkening back to the days when American conservatives openly defended the “peculiar institution”, today some conservatives are returning to their prejudiced roots and embracing hate speech and hateful policies across the country. The moral bankruptcy, practical lunacy and political idiocy demonstrated by these short-sighted tactics undermine their future as a palatable movement. Several examples follow:

Rand Paul: Loves Country Clubs, Not sure about Civil Rights Act

Tea Party darling Rand Paul beat his establishment opponent in the Kentucky Republican primary this week. His national media victory lap soured quickly because of his alarming statement on NPR, where he said that he may not have supported
government intervention to protect people from racial discrimination in America. He said that out loud in 2010.

This is the same person who claims to detest discrimination by every entity, except private businesses. It totally makes sense now that he gave a faux-populist victory speech at a country club.

Even more disturbing, Rand Paul defended his disgraced former spokesperson Chris Hightower as being “not racist” before resigned in 2009. Why did he have to say this? Because Chris’ MySpace page prominently featured pictures of lynchings and said “Happy Ni—r Day.” I can’t imagine what qualifies as racist in Rand’s world.

History, re-written by the losers

The conservative-dominated Texas Board of Education has proposed changes to the state’s history and social studies curricula that rename the slave trade the “Atlantic triangular trade.” Apparently, the smuggling, shipping and slaughtering of slaves was so abhorrent that they’d rather not talk about it or have students even hear about it.

They also want to change the curriculum to “highlight” the unintended consequences of Title IX and affirmative action.


In an attempt to outdo their predecessors who actively opposed the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, conservative leaders in Arizona have taken race baiting to a fever pitch. In the span of 1 month, they:

Racism is bad morally and ethically.
It’s also bad politics.

Conservatives have a choice to make. Some are making the wrong one.

They can continue making racist identity plays to cater to a shrinking minority (overt racists) within a shrinking majority (white Americans). They can appeal to the worst in people and maybe pick up small victories here and there. They can define themselves as the movement that embraces exclusion, ignorance, and hate.

Or they can choose a more solid path.

They can realize that there is strength in bringing people together. There is strength in being open to the values of others and working with new people to strengthen our nation. They can embrace the abundance mentality that defines the honest hopes, dreams and ambitions of every family in America that wants tomorrow to be better than today.

The movement that does the latter will be the movement that moves our country forward. I know which side I’m on.

Photo Credit: Black Pearl 10 on Flickr.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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