On Tuesday night, two black Republicans were voted into Senate and House. While I applaud Tim Scott and Mia Love, respectively, as pioneering African Americans, I am nervous about whatever right-wing political madness they are most likely plotting. As Zora Neale Hurston once said, "All my skinfolk ain't kinfolk."
In 2012, after sitting South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint resigned, Scott was appointed to his position. Last night he defeated Democrat Joyce Dickerson, making him the first elected black senator in his state since Reconstruction, according to Vox. If you're hazy about that period in America's history, it was after 1865 when the U.S. tried to unite the Northern and Southern states after ending slavery and giving blacks a legal shot at becoming citizens and voters with the 15th amendment. There were black politicians, political parties, land owners and businessmen until the Black Codes (the precursor to Jim Crow segregation), the Grandfather Clause (which kept blacks from voting despite it being a legal right) and peonage (jailing blacks for made-up crimes like sitting one place too long) popped up, stripping African Americans of most of their legal gains. America, fuck yeah.
Before all of that aforementioned fuckshit happened, the 1800s was the last time South Carolina had a black person in Scott's seat, which is why his victory is so moving. But the guy is a Tea Party darling and worked closely with infamous Republican Strom Thurmond, the dude who loved segregation but had a secret biracial daughter. Scott has already refused to join the Congressional Black Caucus and that's just a peek at his forthcoming foolishness.
Verdict: Clarence Thomas level anxiety, without the sexual harassment flair.
On the other hand, Utah's Mia Love is essentially a unicorn. She is a first generation Haitian American, Catholic-turned-Mormon Republican with braids. According to BuzzFeed, she toyed with being an actress, did a stint as a flight attendant and then chose politics as her career working her way up from City Council member to Mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, not far from Salt Lake City.
Now Love's plan as Utah's 4th District congresswoman is to be a self-described "nightmare for the Democratic party," as she told Newsweek. She thinks racism happens because black people allow themselves to be victims and she thinks Democrats "ignite emotions and … racism when there isn't any." I guess she must think that this year's Ferguson, MO riots surrounding racism, police brutality and murder exacerbated by tanks and tear gas were also figments of America's imagination.
Denial is amazing, isn't it?
I'm glad that Utah, one of the whitest and most conservative states in America, has elected a person of color to represent them in Congress, but if Newsweek's Winston Ross has to add a line about how some native Utahn will vote against her just because she's black, I'm thinking that's proof that racism is alive and well. Not to mention that despite having immigrant parents from Haiti who were running from the murderous dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, Love (whose birth name is Ludmya Bourdeau) isn't especially into amnesty and is vehemently against illegal immigrants.
Verdict: Condoleezza Rice, without the amazing piano skills.
As an African American in a country where there have only been a handful of black senators and dismayingly few black congressmen, I'm happy whenever my home team — yes, I mean black folks — wins. But most likely, neither of these politicians will support the policies that I align with as a liberal Democrat raised in free-wheeling Northern California, so both get a reserved golf clap from me with a side of mild gloom for what's to come for poor and middle class people of color in their states, and in the country.
Image via AP.