Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Blackface and the Far Right


James E. Johnson Jr. • Apr 20, 2010

hayesWhy is putting on blackface such the rage on the far right? The mighty pale Tea Party movement is not the first to try this tactic. The nearly all white anti-immigrant movement has been trying on blackface over the last few years. It is not just to hide its complexion; it is also an attempt to get a free ride in Black communities.

In 2006, the John Tanton Network put together Choose Black America as the Black wing of the anti-immigrant movement. One of the leaders they chose was Ted Hayes who became one of the movement’s favorite pets. Jim Gilchrist head of the extremist anti-immigrant group the Minuteman Project called Hayes the “icon of the African-American segment” of the border vigilante movement. Hayes was used to help lend credibility in the large Black media market of L.A. Even though Hayes played the buffoon spectacularly to his own advantage, Choose Black America is now unfunded and defunct. Hayes’ work merited him the honor of being the Republican candidate for California’s 51st Congressional District.

Another attempt to un-bleach the anti-immigrant movement is T. Willard Fair in Miami. The Tanton Network promoted Fair in an ad for its Coalition for the Future American Worker (CFAW). Fair has allowed the right to play him like a fiddle. So blinded by the right, Fair once said of Jeb Bush, “In my judgment, there is no greater person on this Earth than you. I love you”. Fair was given an appointment to the Florida Board of Education.

Lately, Frank Morris has been making the rounds. Morris’ connections to the Tanton Network are many, including shilling for CFAW. Morris serves as a black face on the board of the Alliance for a Sustainable USA, which changed its name from the diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America (a veneer too thin?) He also joined Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) board member Dick Lamm in an attempt to overthrow the board of the Sierra Club and make it over in the image of an anti-immigrant group. Most recently Morris has put his face in front of Texans for Immigration Reform (TFIR). What his reward will be is yet to be determined.

Why are these third and fourth string players on the field for the anti-immigrant movement? It is because most Black leaders take seriously the role of ‘the conscience of the nation’ the Black community has been and continues to be. Black leaders, the Congressional Black Congress, the NAACP, the National Urban League, Rainbow PUSH and most others know that civil rights battles did not end in the 1960s. And they also believe that you can’t just fight for civil rights for Black Americans, you have to fight for the rights of all people, especially those who are the most abused among us.

Blackface on the anti-immigrant movement is to allow it to get a free ride in Black communities and to hide its ties to white supremacy.

Blackface in the entertainment business is outdated and nearly obsolete, but it is all the rage for the right. Just as the entertainment business never convinced its audience that the actors were Black, neither does the anti-immigrant movement convince us that it is diverse.

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