Can Mia Love Successfully Downplay Race?

In Jamelle Bouie’s New Yorker article about Mia Love, he notes that she downplayed the issue of race after the midterm elections.

As the child of Haitian immigrants, Love isn’t “African American,” a term that can be used to describe any African national who acquired American citizenship, regardless of skin color. Nevertheless, Bouie is correct when he says that in America, most people consider Love “simply black.”

The day after her win, in an interview on CNN, she pushed back when race was raised. “I think what we need to mention here is this had nothing do with race,” she said. “Understand that Utahans have made a statement that they’re not interested in dividing Americans based on race or gender. . . . That’s really what made history here. It’s that race, gender, had nothing to do with it. Principles had everything to do with it, and Utah values had everything to do with it.”

Some of this is just a politician’s dodge; Love didn’t want to answer the question, so she disputed the premise. But some of it, I think, reflects her unusual place on the American political landscape. Unlike the most prominent black Republican in Congress, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, Love is not the descendant of American slaves. She’s the daughter of Haitian immigrants, a first-generation American whose story is tied up in both black America and the particular experience of immigrant families. As a politician, her identity has much more to do with the latter than with the former.

It’s unfortunate that we’re still mired in race. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t mention it at all. But people will continue to hold America’s history against her, even though they benefit from living in the freest, wealthiest, and greatest country on the planet. We should commend Love for trying to de-emphasize race, but the powers that be are against her. With mainstream media–and Democrats–constantly stirring up class and racial envy, it’s a losing battle. For example, Bouie writes (emphasis added):

[T]he black Republicans who win elections tend to promote a modified form of black conservatism, adopting its rhetoric while shearing it of its critiques of white society and racial injustice. That’s how you get successful figures like South Carolina’s Tim Scott and T. W. Shannon, the former Speaker of the Oklahoma House, who have been silent on the controversies over the shootings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, but offer messages that would sound at home at an African Methodist Episcopal church or a corner barbershop.

The so-called racial injustices I see are blacks holding themselves to lower standards. Blacks killing each other, including their unborn children, and having children out of wedlock, setting them up to spend their formative years in fatherless home–these things are much more damaging than any form of racism. And the only critique of “white society” worth mentioning is whites, mostly liberals, treating black people like children, with a reduced sense of morality and culpability.

But that sort of thing isn’t newsworthy, or, more important, profitable.

The takeaway from Bouie’s article isn’t his assumptions but the prominence of child-of-immigrants Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Nikki Haley, and Gov. Bobby Jindal. The diversity liberals seem to worship is on display, with minorities at high levels in the GOP.

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