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March 03, 2023

Elizabeth City State University, now a part of the University of North Carolina system, was founded on this date in 1891.

Republicans’ Jungle Fever

POSTED: October 19, 2011, 12:00 am

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He is everything they fantasized about; a dark warrior with swagger, unafraid to chastise his own and a product of the Black experience. Unlike Colin Powell, he is no wishy-washy moderate supporter of affirmative action and apologist for fairness. Herman Cain is the GOP’s Black buck and the party has a bad case of “jungle fever” or “Mandingo mania,” whichever you prefer to describe their new interest in Black love.

Herman Cain, the pizza man extraordinaire, is the latest in a line of Republican race shields, Black conservatives that the party embraces as the authentically Black expressions of support for right-wing extremism. In the 1980’s the party had a case of the Clarences – including the likes of Clarence Pendleton and Clarence Thomas as two examples of good Black folks. In the 90s, Ward Connerly earned his stripes as Mr. Anti-Affirmative Action, ripping apart California’s efforts to make college admissions more racially inclusive and setting off an anti-equity stampede. Now, a new Black hero has arrived on the GOP scene and Allan Keyes must be worried because his position as the go to Black right-hand man is now in jeopardy. The new Black conservative icon is Herman Cain, the born out of poverty, Morehouse graduate, corporate success story that the GOP is now holding up as the new Black modern man. What is not to like about Cain? His life story is inspiring, he is funny and intelligent. Those attributes cannot obscure the fact that his candidacy is as thin as one of those pizzas he use to shuck and his scorched earth rhetoric is tolerated only because he is a Black novelty.

The Republican Party has convinced itself that it can gain Black support only if it can find the “right” Black people. The problem is that the party of Lincoln is disingenuous and delusional. It does not want Black support. It wants African-Americans who are diametrically opposed to the use of the federal government to enforce Constitutional guarantees of equal protection and intervene in circumstances when private markets discriminate and endanger the public welfare. While many Blacks might be socially conservative – preferring for instance abortion as a last resort – we aren’t stupid. Many of us remember or understand the pitfalls of “state’s rights” and will go to our graves fighting any attempt to return this nation back to the dark and dismal days of Jim Crow; or any present day facsimile.

So, while Herman Cain is entertaining and has an inspiring life story, his politics is not aspirational in the context of Black life in America. His 9-9-9 plan comes off as simplistic as a Godfather’s pizza commercial, and as insulting as the pitch that something that plastered with cheese and dough is good for you. Herman Cain wants us to believe that governing is as easy as delivering hot pizza. His Republican Amen corner wants us to shout hallelujah for the arrival of a sensible Black man; not like that Harvard educated, biracial fellow sitting in the Oval Office. Cain is the self-proclaimed “authentically Black” man and you know how the GOP loves its Black folk.

All jokes aside, the Cain candidacy is a joke and a bad one at that. It smacks of desperation in a party so filled with hate it can’t fathom the idea of having a Mormon as its presidential nominee. Michelle Bachmann looked like a gamer until people actually started to listen when she opened her mouth. Next, came the right’s rush toward Rick Perry until the rock at Niggerhead ranch started to speak. Conservatives then salivated at putting the Big Boy from New Jersey on the presidential menu, only to be teased and eventually told by Chris Christie that he actually has a job to finish in the Garden State. Now, it would actually prefer Cain, a three-for-one candidate, Black, conservative and crazy; he of the fry the immigrants on the big fence crowd. Mitt Romney must be feeling like the fourth runner-up at the Miss America pageant, listening intently as the MC describes the order of succession if the “winner” is unable to fulfill her duties. Conservatives don’t care about Romney’s business experience or his years as governor in blue Massachusetts. They just know that Herman Cain is further right and more invested in white supremacy than “the Mormon.”

Herman Cain’s rapid elevation to Black sainthood in the Republican Party is enough to make most African-Americans suspicious. Let’s be real, when white conservatives embrace a Black man we know the deal. If nothing else Black folks possess common sense; it got us through slavery and Jim Crow, and has been a survival mechanism during hard times. So, while Republicans ogle Cain and swoon over his every absurd and caustically offensive remark, most of us will sit back and enjoy the show, and then cast him in the bin with every other Black fool who attempted to sell us out for personal gain.

Walter Fields is Executive Editor of

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