Kanye West set Twitter ablaze for applauding a black conservative commentator’s independent thought, and now, Chance the Rapper says black people don't have to be Democrats.
One or two more rappers, and we may reach a tipping point.
Finally, a handful of influential blacks are saying what many of us black conservatives have maintained for decades — the Democratic Party doesn't own black people.
Better late than never.
Blacks Have Been Moving Away from the Democratic Party for a While Now
In the 2016 presidential election, 11 percent of the black vote went to either candidate Trump (8 percent) or another candidate. While black women solidly supported Hillary Clinton, 18 percent of black men did not vote for her. Heavily black neighborhoods voted more Republican as well than in 2012.
Even before November 2016, the writing was on the wall: Sixty-three percent of black Americans said they felt taken for granted by the Democratic Party, according to one survey presented to the Congressional Black Caucus.
When Essence magazine polled black women, they found an 11 percent drop in black female voters who believe that the Democratic Party best represents their interests. These women are largely embracing independent status, as one in five say neither party represents their interests.
When Kanye West tweeted, "Obama was in office for eight years and nothing in Chicago changed," he voiced the growing disenchantment among blacks with the Democratic Party.
For all of their promises of change, progressive policies have failed to deliver greater economic independence and opportunity, better educational outcomes for kids, or more secure neighborhoods.
Blacks Owe No Allegiance to the Democratic Party
Throughout most of our history, the Republican Party has fought for the freedom and rights for blacks. Founded in 1854 as an anti-slavery party, the Republican Party aimed to stop the spread of slavery into the western territories.
Republicans led the abolition movement; fought the Civil War to end slavery; passed constitutional amendments to abolish slavery, give blacks citizenship, and guarantee blacks the right to vote; secured rights for newly freed slaves during Reconstruction; and helped blacks get elected to local office and Congress during Reconstruction.
Until the era of Lyndon Johnson, Democrats were obstructionists to civil rights progress and segregationists.
After the New Deal, blacks shifted their political support to the Democratic Party and cemented their support under President Johnson, who interestingly, was a well-documented racist often referring to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that he signed into law as the "n**** bill."
Fifty-four years later, while blacks enjoy the greatest freedoms in the country since its founding, blacks lag behind whites and other demographics in staggering ways.
Black Americans Continue to Face Economic Challenges
Nearly one out of four blacks (24 percent) was in poverty in 2015 according to the U.S. Census Bureau – higher than Hispanics (21 percent), Asians (11 percent), and whites (9 percent).
The unemployment rate for blacks was 93 percent higher than for whites, 104 percent higher than Asians, and 34 percent higher than for Hispanics.
In 2014, the median black household income was about $43,300 compared to $71,300 for white households. The gap has only widened since 1967, the earliest dates we have data, when the median black household income was $24,700, compared with $44,700 among white households.
The net worth of white households is 13 times greater than that of black households.
Three in four (75 percent) black ninth graders will graduate high school in four years compared to 88 percent of white students and 90 percent of Asian students.
Government Isn’t the Solution to These Challenges.
It’s important to address these disparities, but there must be an alternative to progressive policies that expand government with no accountability and to the exclusion of personal freedom and choices. This approach has been tried, and has failed. Blacks are ready for a new approach.
When my family moved to the U.S. in 1985 from the Caribbean, we lived in a poor neighborhood affected by drugs and gang violence. We escaped that environment by my parents holding down whatever jobs they could, saving every penny, and buying our own piece of America in a safe (pre-dominantly white) neighborhood.
My immigrant parents instilled in us the value of hard work, self-reliance, goal-setting, dreaming big and connecting every short-term decision to those dreams. They taught us that our decisions have consequences and that we take personal responsibility for our actions.
Government was never the solution to our problems; family and community were the sources of support and guidance.
My sibling and I were raised to seize the abundance of opportunities available to anyone with the fortitude, determination and grit.
Rappers like Kanye West and Chance the Rapper were likely inspired to build their fame, fortunes, and careers on similar values.
They are right to demand change in black communities that has yet to materialize despite decades of Democratic support. Even more, it’s okay for blacks to espouse different views and pursue different policies. Hopefully, a different course will lead to better outcomes.