Even though I grew up in Philadelphia with a mother who was a Democrat and a father who was well-read and concerned about the state of the Black race in the late 1960's, I can't say that my family was politically active. In my junior year at Howard University, I took a Black politics class to get a better understanding of how our people have been historically involved in the political process. Going into college, I was a registered Democrat, but after this class I became disillusioned with the Democratic Party, which led me to become an Independent. For one thing, I think the welfare programs the Democrats supported have pushed men out of our households, and that has been very detrimental.
Then in 2000, I was invited to a campaign event in Baltimore where I heard former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, a Black Republican, speak for the first time. I was so impressed with what he said about how we could use our vote more effectively. I introduced myself to him and told him that while I was registered as an Independent, I agreed with much of what he had said. He told me to write down my core beliefs to see where they fell on the political spectrum. I realized that I'm indeed a Republican.
I joined the Black Republican Women and the Republican National Committee African-American Advisory Board and met with then RNC chairman Ken Mehlman. In December 2004 I was asked to help organize an official inaugural ball for President Bush. The next year I was invited to the White House Christmas party, and I had the opportunity to actually meet the President. He's a wonderful, caring, witty man. Meeting him solidified it for me that I'm supporting the right guy. It hurts me when folks say he doesn't care about Black people, because that's not true. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't mean I always agree with him. I don't believe in war. But he made a decision based on the data he received at the time.
I'm excited by the fact that we have so many interesting people running for president. Unfortunately the Democratic Party has all the new, fresh faces in the campaign. There aren't any Republicans who really stand out to me. But it's great to see someone like Barack Obama running for office and being taken seriously by the media. I may be a moderate Republican, but I'm a Black woman first. As Americans, we like to put people in boxes. If you're Republican, then you must be a mouthpiece for the White man's agenda. I'm not a sellout just because I'm Republican. Giving Black people a different perspective as a way to evoke change-that's my passion.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Alston