Sitting in press row at the Quicken Loans Arena, one stares down at a sea of white. Of the 2,472 delegates to the Republican National Convention, as few as 18 are black. The Washington Post reports that the percentage of delegates who are black is probably the lowest of the past 100 years.
With Donald Trump as the nominee, this isn’t exactly surprising. His rhetoric, and that of his surrogates, has hardly been welcoming to minorities. Speakers this week have dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement and sermonized about the need for black Americans to get their house in order. One Iowa congressman, Steve King, offensively defended the monochromatic delegation, saying that no one has contributed more to civilization than white people.
Polls show that Trump’s support among black voters is nearly non-existent, well below that of Mitt Romney in 2012.
So what does North Carolina’s lone black delegate make of all this?
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
“Obama ain’t done nothing to help black folks in this country,” said Ada Fisher, a retired doctor from Salisbury.
Republican policies, Fisher says, such as school choice and keeping out illegal immigrants, help black voters as much as anyone.
“We have gotten a bad spin and I tell the party the one thing we have not done well is we haven’t gotten our message out. We aren’t talking about things in a way that people understand what we’re trying to accomplish…
“But we are not going to pander to different groups.”
Fisher acknowledged that most black voters do not support Republicans.
“People don’t want to come aboard the Republican train because we talk about individual responsibility. White people aren’t why we don’t get things. It’s a lack of initiative. It’s our job to make sure the opportunities are there and the doors remain open.
“The Democratic Party has done a damn good job of convincing people that we are responsible for some bad things which in actuality the Democratic Party started.”
Miriam Aikens, an alternate N.C. delegate who is black, says she is not bothered by the lack of diversity at the convention.
“I’m not African-American. I’m American,” she said. “I don’t even see myself as black. I am a Christian American.”
She says blacks worried about police violence against blacks are silent about black-on-black crime, and silent on the millions of black babies who are aborted.
“I don’t judge people by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I wish all of America would not see color.”