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Michael Steele wasn’t exactly feeling the love last night at Howard. A group of young black Republicans at the historically-black university hosted the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee on his so-called “Freedom Tour,” a series of town hall meetings on health care and other topics of the day. Yesterday, those topics included hip-hop, “bling-bling,” and how “our country can afford more than one Oprah Winfrey.”
Steele was, at one point, heckled and yelled at, including by a woman – not a Howard student – who declared that her mother had died a few months ago because she couldn’t afford all of her chemotherapy medications. But Steele showed her. He heckled her back, as the Washington Independent reported.
Elon James White, an African-American writer, comedian and host of the web series “This Week in Blackness,” was pretty near mortified by the whole event, addressing a scathing blog post at the online site the Root directly to the hip-hop obsessed chairman himself: “Note to Michael Steele: Black /= Charisma.”
It’s worth a full read, but here are the highlights:
I’m not sure who expressed to Mr. Steele that he was right there on top of the political game with President Obama, but he seems to believe it hook, line and sinker; I know this because he implied it multiple times during the course of the evening. Yet for all of his attempts to reach out to the black community with his Hip-Hop Republican ideas and possibly soul food assisted membership drives, Steele misses the one thing (besides common sense, which he DOES NOT have) that is needed to deal with black folk: Likability.
Watching Steele talk to Howard was the equivalent of watching a house negro explain how great Massa’ really is. (“I mean we COULD run for freedom, but why bother?”).
… There are a lot of horrendously uninformed and purposefully manipulative people in politics. The issue with Steele is he’s trying to game me like a white school teacher doing his first assignment in the ‘hood, and I dont appreciate it.
Howard student Jada Smith, an intern at the Root, had a different perspective of the woman who disrupted the crowd, and the students who chimed in.
The student’s outbursts and attacks were not only inconsequential in the healthcare debate, but they were down right disrespectful and rude. One of the few chances us young black folk had to get the ear of someone in government was ruined by party crashers who claim to be making their voices heard, but in reality did nothing but silence the rest of ours. So what do you think would have made the news? Twenty-something black college students showed up in droves for something other than a Li’l Wayne concert, but the air time will probably go to the white lady who was shouting until her face turned red. Thanks a lot, ma’am.