I’m Black and Republican – Hear me out (Commentary)

Why We Wrote This

Black Americans have often been described by the news media or political experts as a monolithic voting bloc, a stereotype that fails to capture the wide diversity of views – even under a president deemed polarizing on race.

Alejandro Martin/One America News Network
Conservative media personality Chris Prudhome appears Sept. 10, 2020, with Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action, on One America News Network's “Weekly Briefing.”

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Chris Prudhome says that, despite widespread perceptions, he’s far from the only Republican who is Black. Why will he be voting for Donald Trump? “There are many reasons for Black voters to support Mr. Trump,” Mr. Prudhome says, ticking off the First Step Act, low pre-pandemic Black unemployment rates, and Mr. Trump’s Platinum Plan, which pledges to “increase access to capital in Black communities by almost $500 billon.”

Running parallel to Mr. Prudhome’s political views is a plea for people to listen to each other – across political divides. “We cannot say that because you are a Democrat or a Republican, you cannot have a voice,” he urges. “That is an us or nothing mentality. … It’s OK to have diversity of thought.” In fact, he argues, we need “independent thinkers.”

“The world is not a zero-sum game,” Mr. Prudhome adds. “It is so important that we listen with open hearts and minds. … The only way we can grow and build is together. … We need to listen to understand, not to reply, and we need to remember that together we will and can prevail – but only if we truly respect each other and hear each other.”

I am a 35-year-old Black man, I have been a conservative from Day One, and I support President Donald Trump. This may seem incongruous to many people. But if you watched the Republican National Convention, you saw other African Americans who think the way I do. We represent just a small slice of the Republican Party – and among Black people, we are a small minority – yet we are strong in force.

We are living in very challenging and polarizing times. It is important that we look at each other as people, not political perspectives. Our nation is divided. Problems between law enforcement and the Black community are at an all-time high. Now, more than ever, we need diversity of thoughts and opinions.

Oftentimes, as a media personality and conservative, I get ostracized because of my views. In many instances, I am judged for being conservative. But I face the same problems other Black men face. Many don’t know, but I had a gun pulled on me in Washington, D.C., by an officer at a Walgreens over not wearing a mask. This was in early spring, when wearing masks was not enforced everywhere.

We had a miscommunication that resulted in me fearing for my life and him pointing a gun in my face as I screamed “Please don’t shoot!” over and over while he pushed me to the ground in the middle of the street. It was a crazy experience.

But I will never forget police officer A.J. Smith, a white man, who was very kind and saw to it that I was treated fairly, even insisting that the other officer, who was also white, give me my paperwork after I was released. Officer Smith was direct and had my back.

Trump’s benefits for African Americans

The world is not a zero-sum game. We need to be able to listen to each other even if we disagree. Many people in the Black community demonize me because I am conservative and support Mr. Trump. But chastising and ridiculing people without hearing their thoughts is not how to solve things.

There are many reasons for Black voters to support Mr. Trump. Look at the First Step Act, which redresses sentencing rules leading to high rates of imprisonment among Black men and women and bans, with a few exceptions, shackling of women giving birth in federal prisons. In its first 18 months, nearly 1,700 inmates had sentences reduced, 91% of whom were Black.

In addition, the Black unemployment rate fell to 5.4% in October 2019, and Mr. Trump signed legislation securing a decade of annual funding for historically Black colleges and universities in December 2019. The preceding year, Mr. Trump nominated the first Black woman for promotion to brigadier general in the U.S. Marine Corps. Lastly, I want to point out the president’s Platinum Plan, released in September, which pledges to “increase access to capital in Black communities by almost $500 billon.” President Trump is doing these things because he cares.

Unfair criticism of the president

Some have stated that the Charlottesville comment in which Mr. Trump stated that there were “very fine people, on both sides” is bad. However, this is an attempt by the media and the left to distort the president’s words. A minute later, he clearly condemned Nazis and white supremacists when he said, “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists – because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

Being conservative does not prevent me from being an effective voice for minority needs. We live in a country where free speech is essential. I believe it’s time to look at each other as equal human beings, and that goes well beyond skin color. We cannot say that because you are a Democrat or a Republican, you cannot have a voice. That is an us or nothing mentality. You should not be forced to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris just because you are Black. It’s OK to have diversity of thought.

Look at the streets of Baltimore. Look at the effectiveness of Maryland’s Republican congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik’s recent ad, which drew national attention. Why was it so effective? Because people are tired! We have had the same leaders around for decades with broken promises. Many of our communities are impoverished and disenfranchised. People are ready to be independent thinkers.

Listening across political fault lines

The expectation for many is that if you are Black, you are expected to be a Democrat. People hear you are Republican and automatically shut you out. Yet we walk around saying we are all in this together.  

Of course, I have had my issues with racial injustice. But I continue to rise because I believe racism is not what America stands for. It is time for a change. It is time to be looked at fairly, regardless of our views.

I am not going to bully someone in the streets because he doesn’t think the way I want him to. It is time for us to respect each other as a nation. It seems to me you can be Black and a Republican and still think this country has work to do on race. Peacefully! Not by rioting, looting, and tearing down statues, but by embracing all the opportunities this country offers.

Let me leave you with one thing: It is so important that we listen with open hearts and minds. Despite our disagreements, no matter how much you don’t like the candidate your friend or family members support, the only way we can grow and build is together. We cannot stand united if we are not willing to hold each other up and truly hear each other out. We need to listen to understand, not to reply, and we need to remember that together we will and can prevail – but only if we truly respect each other and hear each other.

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