When I was being interviewed at a rally in D.C. by a Slovenian television network for a documentary about President Obama (I was giving the “Tea Party response”), the interviewer eventually asked me the inevitable, “Isn’t your movement just a bunch of angry white people?” Never mind that I was standing with two black men. The cameraman probably didn’t film them.
But that’s what the leftist media does (including the international media, apparently): they play the race card—again and again and again, regardless of facts. And they won’t stop. They can’t. There’s too much power involved in dividing Americans across racial lines. Because the more we argue over issues of race, the less time we have to stop the Big-Government advocates from destroying our economy, eroding our freedoms, and expanding government to control every aspect of our lives.
This has to change.
The great news is that it can. One of my passions since joining the Tea Party has been reaching out to minority communities who are skeptical of our cause and convincing them that we are, in fact, their greatest allies, vigorous guardians of their freedoms that are much more fragile than they realize. A lot of work must be done in this area, but after two years I’m finding that often it’s much easier than I would have thought. People whose only experience with the Tea Party is watching the media attack us are generally shocked when they actually meet us and learn that our movement is populated with average and decent Americans who care deeply about the future for everyone. I’m experiencing this in Richmond in exciting ways.
For example, last Thursday Richmond Tea Party hosted a unique event under the inspiration of Kevin Jackson—author of The BIG Black Lie—and Joe the Plumber (remember him?). As a black man and a white man, they have embarked on what they’re calling the Ebony & Ivory Two Nekkid Heads Tour to unite different communities and show America that we’re all more alike than different and that the Tea Party shares everyone’s same basic concerns about the challenges America faces.
Part of the Richmond stop on the tour included filling restaurants that are either minority owned or have a large minority customer base. We got to know the owners over the past few weeks, and they genuinely appreciated our connecting with them and choosing their restaurants (our people tipped well!). And we plan to return—again and again and again—because (a) the food was fantastic so we’re promoting free market principles, and (b) we’re building long-term relationships with people who don’t necessarily see things how we do.
You’d be amazed at the impact you can make simply by showing up. One owner said she didn’t know much about the Tea Party before we contacted her, but now she’s interested in learning more. And at our dinner spot, the assistant manager got up in front of the packed room with a huge smile, told us how happy he was that we had all come, and high-fived our outreach committee chairman.
It’s, of course, not always going to be that easy, but we must make every effort to connect with Americans of all colors and backgrounds and no longer allow the professional left to divide and conquer us with lies. The Tea Party, instead, should unite and empower everyone with the truth about Big Government’s destructive nature. This includes helping those in need—whether it’s through financial support, tutoring, helping people with job applications, etc.—ultimately leading them toward self-sufficiency.
I’d like to see Voices of the Tea Party cover successes people have had in doing this so we can encourage and help each other with outreach efforts. Because if the minority communities begin to see the Tea Party as a group of sincere and concerned citizens passionate about working with all Americans to protect the future for our children, the leftist media will never again be able to ask, “Isn’t your movement just bunch of angry white people?” And those who rely on racial politics to maintain power will finally lose it.
Jon Wakefield is a leader of the Richmond, Virginia Tea Party.