Over the past few weeks, I have appeared on the Hannity television program to defend the NAACP. As a result of those appearances, I have faced an onslaught of criticism from conservative bloggers & tweeters. I would like to take a moment to address publicly exactly why I stand with the NAACP.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has a mission of ensuring the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. This mission is not bounded by political party or viewpoint. It is bound by an understanding that we must stand-up to race-based discrimination, no matter who the victim is.
Now, allow me to address the comment made by Rev. William Barber (President of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP ) about Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina's US Senator and a Republican). While I won't use the word "ventriloquist's dummy" to describe the relationship between the Senator Tim Scott and conservative right interest groups, I would argue that Senator Scott's record has been sub-par on civil rights and working rights.
Before I get into the weeds on his voting record, let me make it clear that I am very proud to have an African-American man representing the state of South Carolina in the US Senate. Unfortunately, that pride does not negate his dismal voting record on civil rights:
1. On March 3, 2009, then South Carolina State Representative Tim Scott votes in favor of a law requiring photo identification to vote, with no exemptions for college IDs.
2. In March 2011, Rep. Tim Scott co-sponsored a welfare reform bill (HR 1135) that would deny food stamps to families whose incomes were lowered to the point of eligibility because a family member was participating in a labor strike.
3. In March 2011, Rep. Tim Scott voted yes on reauthorizing the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, a bill that would have forced the District of Columbia to spend local dollars funding a private school voucher program, forcing winners and losers amongst the District students.
4. In February 2013, US Senator Tim Scott voted against the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act, a bill that would provide civil rights protection to women who are abused by a partner.
Not one of those votes suggest that Senator Scott is a leader in the fight for civil rights! Rather, those votes scream right-wing-interest-group-owned superstar. And so that begs the question, would the right wing be so outraged if Tim Scott was white and was condemned for voting against civil rights by the NAACP?
No, of course they wouldn't!!!
All of this proves the point that I and many others have been trying to make since this controversy began. Just because Senator Tim Scott happens to be a black man, does not mean that he should be guaranteed blind support from the African American community.
African Americans and organizations that represent their interests (such as the NAACP) have the right to examine a candidate's voting record and stance on the issues. Based on that examination, they can then make a determination if said elected official deserves the praise of the organization and the community.
Oprah Winfrey said it best when campaigning for President Barack Obama, "I am not voting for him because he is black, I am voting for him because he is brilliant!" And many African-Americans feel the exact same way.
Why would African Americans support a candidate or elected official who stands against a college student's right to vote with their college ID? Why would working families support a candidate/elected official who stands for cutting their food stamps while they are fighting for their right to work? Why would black clergy members ever stand with an elected official that would funnel local education dollars into a system built to pick winners and losers?
The simple answer to those questions are: they wouldn't! African-American voters want a candidate that will stand with them no matter what their race and/or ethnicity is. We would rather have a candidate that stands for our issues than a candidate who shares the same skin color.
To be frank, Senator Tim Scott has never voted for our community in the past. Until he stands up for our community, you will not see me, the folks at the NAACP, and members of our community standing up for him.
Hear more of my thoughts on the Senator Tim Scott controversy:
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