I didn’t want to like the former, first black RNC (Republican National Committee) Chairman Michael Steele, but he keeps making me like him. Steele is also a voice for reason on MSNBC, working as an analyst. He just laughs at the crazed GOP candidates, and after all, what else can you do? Oh wait, I can think of about 927 other things. But back to Steele, I didn’t know that he ran into a steel wall of racism when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006, in Maryland.
Steele might be one of the rare, endangered moderate Republicans. He spoke to hosts Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis on “Candidate Confessional,” a HuffingtonPost.com podcast that describes itself as interviewing:
‘Candidates who came up short in their bid for president, governor, senator and other elected office; those defined by YouTube moments and others who fell by painfully close margins.’
When “Candidate Confessional” interviewed Michael Steele for the podcast, they asked about his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat. The former RNC chairman relayed an experience when a Republican operative, a woman, came up to him:
‘Do you know what your problem is? Your problem is that you sound too black.’
‘Hand to God.’
‘You can’t be black when you’re a candidate. Can’t be seen talking about black issues, but then you don’t say enough about being black.’
As a black Republican and former Democrat, Steele has had to deal with a party that considered him and two black candidates for governor as “the party lawn jockeys.” The Republicans tried to make Steele become whiter:
‘They don’t come out and say “act more white.” They can’t say that. But they try to make you act more white…problem is, you sound too black. This is how we talk where I’m from. This is my life.’
Black liberal Democrats criticized him for not having blacks on his staff, but Steele made his case that the Republican campaign environment stacked itself against blacks. He said:
‘You know why? The party never groomed blacks to fill positions…what pool of talent am I going to pull from, when they groom largely white males, not even women?’
Steele told his staff that this is a “thing we’re going to have to deal with.”
Steele’s experience makes me wonder why on earth would a black man go through such blatant racism? Steele says that he was a Democrat most of his life, until his widowed mother, who refused to accept Welfare, greatly influenced him. That made him appreciate the self-reliance he saw and respected in former president Ronald Reagan.
So, Steele lost his bid for the 2006 Maryland U.S. Senate. After all, how does a black man become less black?
Did you know Steele once studied for the Catholic priesthood? “Candidate Confessional” sounds like the perfect place to hear more about him.
Listen to Steele’s enlightening interview on “Candidate Confessional,” a HuffingtonPost.com podcast (Warning: Explicit Language).
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