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Author Topic: Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed  (Read 7419 times)

obamacon

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Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed
« on: January 23, 2007, 05:56:42 PM »
Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed
By: Josephine Hearn
January 23, 2007 12:32 PM EST

As a white liberal running in a majority African American district, Tennessee Democrat Stephen I. Cohen made a novel pledge on the campaign trail last year: If elected, he would seek to become the first white member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Now that he's a freshman in Congress, Cohen has changed his plans. He said he has dropped his bid after several current and former caucus members made it clear to him that whites need not apply.

"I think they're real happy I'm not going to join," said Cohen, who succeeded Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., in the Memphis district. "It's their caucus and they do things their way. You don't force your way in. You need to be invited."

Cohen said he became convinced that joining the caucus would be "a social faux pas" after seeing news reports that former Rep. William Lacy Clay Sr., D-Mo., a co-founder of the caucus, had circulated a memo telling members it was "critical" that the group remain "exclusively African-American."

Other members, including the new chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., and Clay's son, Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., agreed.

"Mr. Cohen asked for admission, and he got his answer. ... It's time to move on," the younger Clay said. "It's an unwritten rule. It's understood. It's clear."

The bylaws of the caucus do not make race a prerequisite for membership, a House aide said, but no non-black member has ever joined.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., who is white, tried in 1975 when he was a sophomore representative and the group was only six years old.

"Half my Democratic constituents were African American. I felt we had interests in common as far as helping people in poverty," Stark said. "They had a vote, and I lost. They said the issue was that I was white, and they felt it was important that the group be limited to African Americans."

Cohen remains hopeful, though, that he can forge relationships with black members in other ways.

"When I saw the reticence, I didn't want anyone to misunderstand my motives. Politically, it was the right thing to do," he said. "There are other ways to gain fellowship with people I respect."

Cohen won his seat in the 60 percent black district as the only white candidate in a crowded primary field. If he faces a primary challenge next year from a black candidate, as expected, some Black Caucus members may work to defeat him.

A similar situation arose in 2004 after redistricting added more black voters to the Houston district of former Rep. Chris Bell, D-Texas.

Although House tradition discourages members of the same party from working against each other, about a dozen black lawmakers contributed to Bell's opponent, Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, the eventual victor. Even Bell's Houston neighbor, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, campaigned against him.

One black member who criticized his colleagues for sandbagging Bell was Cohen's predecessor, Harold Ford.

"You have an incumbent, and you don't support an incumbent? It was inappropriate," Ford told Congressional Quarterly in 2004.

Cohen has won high marks for hiring African Americans. A majority of his staff is African American, he said, including his chief of staff.

http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=4AF8124E-3048-5C12-006558D2C4DED716

A.

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Re: Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2007, 06:13:49 PM »
Hmm.  I don't see why he shouldn't join, if his goals are aligned with those of the CBC.  Unless they consider it to be some sort of social club (which they could still maintain independent of advancing political interests), then I don't see the problem.

eeyore

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Re: Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2007, 06:15:13 PM »
Ha, its cool, you black people cant join our WHITE caucus!

Its funny, just imagine what would happen if there even WERE a white caucus.

A.

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Re: Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2007, 06:17:15 PM »
It's called Congress.

eeyore

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Re: Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2007, 06:19:22 PM »
It's called Congress.

You are funny.  There are black people in congress.

Im being serious, imagine the heat that an all-white caucus would receive from the ACLU and NAACP.

Hypocrisy is hilarious

Statistic

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Re: Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2007, 06:21:43 PM »
Not a fan.
Look to the left -- Look to the right

A.

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Re: Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2007, 06:29:09 PM »
Hmm.  I don't see why he shouldn't join, if his goals are aligned with those of the CBC.  Unless they consider it to be some sort of social club (which they could still maintain independent of advancing political interests), then I don't see the problem.

it's a tough issue. if two black congress-persons disagree about black issues, there's nevertheless some element of trust. but what if it's instead two members of the CBC and one's black and the other's white? still the same level of trust? enough to caucus together?

there's also the question of how many non-black members could be admitted into the CBC. the demand to join would be high enough that it may become minority-black. that would in turn raise the spectre of co-option.

The latter question could be resolved by restricting membership to those who represent majority black districts.  As for the first question, perhaps you have a point.  But if the white person is looking out for his constituents' interests, then his views should still be respected.

Burning Sands, Esq.

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Re: Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2007, 06:32:50 PM »
It's called Congress.

You are funny.  There are black people in congress.

Im being serious, imagine the heat that an all-white caucus would receive from the ACLU and NAACP.

Hypocrisy is hilarious


No seriously, it is called Congress.  Namely, the Senate.
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obamacon

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Re: Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2007, 06:44:06 PM »
What would your reaction be if I reversed your post?

it's a tough issue. if two white congress-persons disagree about white issues, there's nevertheless some element of trust. but what if it's instead two members of the CWC and one's white and the other's black? still the same level of trust? enough to caucus together?

there's also the question of how many non-white members could be admitted into the CWC. the demand to join would be high enough that it may become minority-white. that would in turn raise the spectre of co-option.

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Re: Black Caucus: Whites Not Allowed
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2007, 06:46:40 PM »
I still think you would find that a majority of representatives from majority black districts are white...

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