Black Republicans mute their identity on Hampton U. campus

By Kendra Johnson

In the months leading to the 2012 presidential election, nothing seemed to be a higher form treason in the black community than the announcement that one of its members would be voting for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Some of those who announced their support of the GOP candidate received high levels of scorn and derision from their racial cohorts. Both rapper Nicki Minaj and actress Stacey Dash received a fair amount of backlash via social networks after they openly endorsed candidate Romney.

The tension that surrounded both Minaj and Dash’s announcements sparked discussions of should the black community continue to support President Barack Obama because of racial obligation or should they support him because he is truly the better candidate. Present in many conversations was the idea that to be a Republican in the black community is taboo, especially in this election cycle.

“I know there are black Republicans out there,” Hampton University senior Alexis Glears said. “I personally don’t know too many, I probably don’t know any now that I think about it. All the [black] Democrats I know don’t seem to have a problem talking about their political party, I guess I’m just never around to hear a Republican talk about their views.”

The Silver Spring, Md. native said she is not surprised that she doesn’t know any black Republicans because she is sure their lifestyles differ drastically.

“When I think of Republicans I think of snobby, rich people,” Glears said. “I mean not always, but that’s what being a Republican has come to be associated with. When I think of black Republicans I think of rich black people who probably forgot they were black anyway. Being a Republican doesn’t make the person a sell-out in their community, forgetting that they’re a part of that community does.”

Glears said while she does not understand why someone would vote for the Republican candidate this election cycle she is mindful that everyone is entitled to their opinion.

“It’s not like it’s a crime to be a Republican, she said. “People can do what they want. It just seems weird to think of a black person being one. The Democratic Party just seems to be better suited for us.”

Graduate student Ashley Pauling from Greenville, S.C.? said in this election she cannot understand why someone would vote for Romney, but she thinks people are getting caught up on the candidate rather than the party.

“People seem to forget that once upon a time the Republican Party was the party black people favored,” she said. “Personally, I think Romney is an awful choice for president, but the entire Republican Party isn’t the bad guy.”

Pauling said she thinks black people view being a Republican as taboo because they lack true knowledge of each party’s platform. She also said that she thinks a person’s environment dictates their political affiliation.

During the election cycle, there was little talk about Republicans on campus and even less Republican propaganda seen.

One HU political science professor, who preferred to remain off the record, said he is a Republican but would not share his views around campus because he is sure he would incite a riot.

I addition, a few Hampton students interviewed for this article initially said they were Republicans then vehemently denied the affiliation when told the article was for publication.

As recently as last spring prominent Republican Alphonso Jackson, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development for President George W. Bush, was director of the campus Center for Public Policy and Leadership. He is now a vice chairman of mortgage banking at JP Morgan Chase.

“One thing I’ve noticed since being at Hampton is a mob mentality and that’s probably true for a lot of HBCUs or colleges in general,” Pauling said. “I think students here and people in the general [black] community are scared to say they support the Republican Party because they don’t want to upset people, but with anything you have to do your own research and decide why you believe what you believe then stand behind it.”

The writer is a senior in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications