Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Dear Chip..."

An Open Letter to Mr. Chip Saltsman:

Hello, my name is Dennis Sanders. I'm not anyone special, just some guy in Minnesota who blogs from time to time. I wanted to write to you about your little storm that has been brewing since you sent a holiday CD with a little ditty called "Barack the Magic Negro."

I think the whole idea of sending out this CD was a major bad idea and isn't a good omen to what you might do as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Yeah, I know: the idea came from an article by a liberal. But you know what? It doesn't matter. I'm not calling you a racist, I don't know you. But what you did was insensitive to African Americans and isn't going to help you if you want the party to grow and reach minorities...if that's something you really want to do.

You see, I'm African American. A lot of African Americans voted for Barack Obama and they really look up to him. For them, the impossible has happened: someone that looks like them, has been elected to the highest office in the land. After being basically second-class citizens for about three centuries, this is a big achievement even if you don't agree with Obama's politics.

So, calling Obama the "Magic Negro" isn't a good idea. Maybe you haven't noticed, but the GOP has a bit of a PR problem with blacks. Maybe that is not deserved, but when you have people like the late Jesse Helms, former Senator Trent Lott praising outgoing Senator Strom Thurmond in a way that seemed to support his anti-segregationist policies, and the whole Willie Horton thing have not helped your standing with African Americans.

There is nothing wrong with making fun of a president including the President Elect. That's a noble American tradition. But when the Commander in Chief is an African American, one must be sensitive in how make fun of someone. You weren't sensitive at all.

There used to be a time when African Americans largely casted their votes for Republicans. They did this because it was Republicans like Abe Lincoln that freed my ancestors. Overtime, the Democrats have become the party of civil rights, while the GOP has been considered- fairly or unfairly-the party of unreconstructed bigots.

If the GOP is to stay a national party, then it has to be more willing to reach out to people who aren't white. And that means being more sensitive to minorities, which means, stop sending silly CDs using race to make fun of the president.

So, if you really want to make the GOP strong, you should offer an apology. If you want the party to be a joke, then don't. Your choice, but I would hope you have the sense to know better.


Dennis Sanders

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