|President Bush's snub of the NAACP's New Orleans convention has political
activists wondering "why?" Compounding that rebuff of America's largest
civil rights group, Bush aides shot back that NAACP Chairman Julian Bond
"went too far" saying they were "a government of the rich, by and for the
rich." At a time when polls show Black Americans at the bottom of the
country's economic ladder holding "pessimistic views" that their status and
race relations will get any better, why would Bush not address Black
Americans' most influential group with tidings of good cheer?
Of course, even had Bush gone to the NAACP convention, its officials probably
would have still whined. But, Bush still needs to embrace the idea of
"inclusion" when it comes to blacks. Republican policies and programs can
have great impact on black communities if they work to create an atmosphere
of inclusion. Such an effort would cause Bush aides to step out of their
comfort zones and create new alliances and work to overcome the prejudice and
misunderstanding that continues to keep African Americans separate and
unequal in America. When Republicans elect to work with black and urban
groups they will create wider support for the president and resurrect
Republican Party memberships among blacks. By reaching out Bush can show
that he's shaping solutions for the whole community not just the rich and
traditional Republicans whom 67 percent of all Americans say Bush is aligned
Bush's faith-based initiatives have outstanding revenue and social services
potential for African-American communities, but it has had more exclusion
than inclusion. An NAACP national director accuses Bush of dividing black
clergy and refusing to meet with civil rights leaders on the initiative.
Board member Amos Brown says, "There has been no inclusive dialogue" and if
Bush were serious about including the black community," he would have met
with some of us."
What is the mindset among Bush's staffers regarding African-Americans? Are
black aides in the administration using their positions to promote a
broad-based black agenda, or are they being used to put a black face on an
anti-black agenda? Black Republicans committed to black empowerment have a
hard time promoting Republican philosophies that could help African-American
interests when the president ignores black leadership groups like the NAACP.
When it comes to bridging the races, President Bush needs to be part of the
solution, not part of the problem. A recent Gallop Poll Social Audit reveals
the dirty little secret too many Americans want to ignore - there's an
ongoing racial divide in the country. Instead of ignoring African-American
groups, if Bush used his political acumen he'd take his bully pulpit into
such forums regularly, preaching inclusion and race relations that will
benefit us all.
William Reed is the author of "Who's Who in Black Corporate America." For questions or comments email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.