The morning of November 5, 2008 was bittersweet. I awoke to news that the first African American had been elected president, yet I had not voted for him. I am young, gifted and a Republican, an anomaly for a black woman who grew up in the inner cities of Brooklyn,New York.
I wept as I shared the news with my son who was in middle school at the time. How proud I was that during our lifetime we could bear witness and give testimony to such a monumental event in American history. President Barack Obama’s election proved that young black men and women, regardless of circumstance, can overcome any obstacle and BE whatever they set their mind to accomplish. As far as I was concerned, the blind limitations perceived by black men in a white man’s world were dispelled. Barack proved that “Yes we can!” Yet in spite of the outcome and its potential to make a positive impact in the Black community, I felt a sense of foreboding throughout the election cycle at the prospect of his presidency. My innate emotions could not be articulated, there was just a feeling of uneasiness that the ensuing “change” would risk the security of my family, my neighbor’s family, the nation and the world.
I remember when I first mentioned to my beloved grandmother that I was a Republican. She scoffed at the revelation but so do many of my black Democrat peers. Yet no one can really clarify their reasons for being so vehemently opposed to the Republican Party. The most recurring comment is that the party consists of a bunch of white folks. Yet the face of the GOP will never change as long as there are black conservatives who refuse to “come out the closet” and wear the risk of ridicule, ostracism and vile attacks made upon them by their own race. I, on the other hand, would welcome the opportunity to penetrate the cultural groupthink through an open, honest, respectful dialogue with my black brothers and sisters on why I chose the Republican party.
Although I am a registered Republican, I am largely independent in thought. Just as we have the ability to choose which God we serve, or what causes we advocate or deplore, we have the right to vote our conscious and for me that does not necessarily mean political party. In retrospect, it was not difficult for me to make the switch from Democrat to Republican. Once I began to listen, pay attention, research and decide for myself whose principles I most aligned with, politics began to make sense and I wanted to be a part of the electorate. My hope for the body populous is that a reasonable effort is made to do the same because an informed decision is the best decision.
In less than two years, my son will be old enough to vote. My greatest concern is not if he becomes a registered Democrat or Republican. I would rather know that he was learned in the voting process, familiar with laws and statutes and independent in his decision making. At the end of the day, it’s simple, I know what I believe, I know what I want and I am proud to be black, gifted and Republican.