The Republican National Convention featured a number of influential black Americans, from NFL great Herschel Walker to civil rights figure Clarence Henderson to Kentucky’s first Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Despite their passionate and unifying speeches, Joy Reid of MSNBC feels they were invited to make white people “feel good about white nationalism.”
In a tweet on Thursday, Reid shared an article from Elie Mystal at the far-left publication The Nation, which argued that the black speakers were simply there to put white people at ease when supporting “a bigot.”
“If you read one thing today, this would be a good choice. [Elie] writes about the outrage and pathos of the Black people the #RNCConvention trotted out to make white Americans feel good about white nationalism,” she tweeted.
If you read one thing today, this would be a good choice. @ElieNYC writes about the outrage and pathos of the Black people the #RNCConvention trotted out to make white Americans feel good about white nationalism. https://t.co/V2xJzf87Dr
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) August 27, 2020
In the piece, Elie disparaged Walker, Henderson, and others, describing them as “black tokens” who were there to simply say “thank you” to their white overlords.
“The Black people who were allowed to speak at this convention were there to transmit one message to white listeners: ‘It’s OK.’ Trump’s racism is OK, because here’s one of Trump’s Black golfing buddies,” he wrote. “Cops and vigilantes’ shooting black people is OK, because here’s a Black ex-con who complied with the police and is still alive. Caring only about your own pocketbook and 401(k) is OK, because here’s a Black guy who started his own business and made a lot of money. All of them wanted to talk about their individual experiences with Trump. None of them wanted to talk about systemic issues facing Black people who don’t have the benefit of knowing a Trump (or a Kardashian) personally.”
As supposed evidence for this, Elie pointed out that the black speakers “wanted nothing” and offered no agenda.
“The banality of these Black validators can be seen most clearly when you compare their roles to what the white speakers were allowed to do at the convention,” he wrote. “Think of it this way: Most of the white speakers came armed with some agenda. They wanted more farm subsidies or fewer abortions or more Jesus in schools or the right to shoot Black people walking past their homes. But the Black speakers seemingly wanted nothing. There were no additional policies they desired or issues they wanted addressed. They had no goals they wanted the next Trump administration to accomplish and no legislation they wanted Republicans to pass. Instead of an agenda, the Black people were just there to say, ‘Thank you, white [sic] folks,’ and fade off-screen.”
Elie writes that he feels much “anger” for these “tokens,” mostly due to the fact that they spoke out in defense of President Trump allegedly for profit, going as far as comparing them to Judas Iscariot.
“What anger I have for this particular crop of Black tokens comes from the fact that so many of them volunteered,” he wrote. “These were not schoolboys trying to get by at prep school or single moms trying to hang onto their jobs. These were grown-ass adults, predominantly men, who could have sat this grift out but raised their hands to confirm white bias and quote scripture while doing it. We know Trump doesn’t like to pay his debts, so I hope they got their 30 pieces of silver up front.”