Last Monday's unique taping of Hannity featured an audience of 23 distinguished professionals, invited to discuss the power and the plight that accompanies being black and conservative -- two common denominators each guest shared.
The value in devoting the whole program to exploring this specific demographic is apparent, as it is sorely lacking in today's political discourse. Thus, the promise was great, giving a voice to what some participants referred to as an apprehensive and "closeted" group.
Expectations for the conversation ranged from visibility in the media, reactions from other races and those of their own race when making one's conservatism known, and most importantly, a defense of Republican policies and their potentially positive impact on the black community.
To be fair, Host Sean Hannity promises a part two with the panel, but no doubt this past week was a missed opportunity. He instead chose to focus on the abhorrent name-calling that black conservatives are subjected to and the hypocrisy of the lack of outrage on the political left which claims to stand against such racial attacks.
Fox News Contributor and Author Deneen Borelli shed light on her personal experience, specifically the search results that turn up when you Google her name. "You're going to see things that I can't even say on your program... token, traitor, sell-out, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Tom. But these are individuals hiding behind their computers instead of debating me on my values and my principles."
It was first assumed that Hannity would drive this point of criticism home in a matter of minutes then move on to more substantive discussions on policy, delving into the nuanced voice of this demographic, but that was not the case.
After a show of hands revealed nearly every audience member had received some form of race-based backlash, Hannity chose to redirect the conversation again and again, maintaining this hyper-focused look at the name-calling aspect of his guests' lives.
In addition, he naturally wanted to hear an analysis from the mouths of these conservatives as to why the majority of their race now votes Democrat. The answers he got were nothing new, and in fact were exact carbon copy explanations that have been given by many white Republicans following the 2012 election, blaming the influence of the liberal media and the community's lacking ability to access the Truth.
It was Reverend CL Bryant who explained these recent voting patterns, blaming the visibility of liberal black political leaders and their media alliances.
He reasoned, "It's designed to keep black people [in particular] uninformed and broke and when you put people in that situation... then you're able to lead them like sheep down a path that they have led them to over a 50 year period of time. When you look at the black community and you look at this administration being reelected, it was reelected because the electorate was uninformed."
Ironically, the program's effort to condemn those who superficially criticize black conservatives was severely diminished by way of the cutting insults repeatedly hurled against Democrat-voting blacks throughout the show.
Reverend Bryant, with the supportive cheers from the audience, was particularly eager to label his race as sheep, i.e., mindless, thoughtless, unable to think for oneself, and ignorant. With the help of his audience, Hannity did a fantastic job of propping up black conservative America as far more superior than the rest of their race -- the small percent that dares to use their cognitive abilities to see clearly and more importantly, conservatively.
But regardless of race, surely any person with academic achievement behind them and occupational goals ahead of them would consider the characterization of any race as sheep, political affiliations aside, as possibly the greatest insult of all.
To be called a "sell-out," an "Uncle Tom" and so forth has negative connotations, no doubt, but it also speaks to this portrayal of a person who stands apart from the majority, has unexpected ideals and beliefs in some way, and is basely understood to be an individual. Yet the idea of non-conservative blacks as sheep, as a part of the herd, told to turn left and doing so, no questions asked is an attack on individualism, on meaningful thought, and is disgraceful. It doesn't taste any sweeter coming from Reverend Bryant's mouth than it would coming from Rush Limbaugh's, but you get the feeling that according to Hannity, if this group of black Republicans says it, it's OK for him to say it, too.
It seems to be the case with this group that anyone who did not vote their way is blindly dedicated to President Obama and the Democrats, as if he ran against no one, a phantom, as if Mitt Romney had no responsibility in his loss, as if there was never a black Republican candidate, Herman Cain, who ran for office, too.
Republicans are now embarking on this mission to infiltrate and educate the misinformed black community. Hannity's programming Monday night simply taught us that black conservatives agree with this premise of poor education.
As Crystal Wright, creator of Conservativeblackchick.com pointed out on the show, the lack of support for her party is attributable to blacks' ignorance of their own history. Her comments were mirrored by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's speech to Howard University last week, a historically black college. He pushed a history lesson of the Republican Party and its participation in civil rights, though leaving out the intricacies of the shifting party platforms, and that the Republican Party of today is not the Republican Party of yesteryear. And anyway, the students at Howard were quick to correct him when he insisted they didn't know the background of their own race. It was a relief to see these students stand up for their education and their political convictions, whatever they may be.
Let that be a teaching moment for Paul, Wright, and any political figure looking to expand their outreach; maybe it was the race-based pursuit of this president's birth certificate, the promotion of the caricature of the welfare queen, the perceived failed economic policies of the last Republican administration, or the language from the GOP candidate Mitt Romney, himself, and not some jaded, liberal spin that informed their vote.
If there's one thing Paul and other like-minded individuals can bet on, it's that black America isn't looking back, they're looking forward and keeping their eyes and ears peeled in the right now. More and more of black America is graduating high school, pursuing higher education, and becoming more cognizant than they've ever been. And until the Republican Party (black Republicans included) acknowledges this and speaks to the community like they know a thing or two, it will have a long hard road in winning over the majority.