Laurene Facey-Muench is a black woman from Boulder. That alone makes people assume she’s liberal, she said. But she’s not.
Facey-Muench went to the Western Conservative Summit in Denver this weekend to see six Republican presidential candidates speak, go to citizen-action workshops and network with fellow conservatives.
On Friday afternoon at “Trump the Race Card” with the Frederick Douglass Republicans and KCarl Smith, Facey-Muench was the only black person in the room. She said the GOP does have a race problem, but it’s not the party’s fault — it’s liberal messaging.
The word “racist” has been attached to the word “conservative” in popular culture, making it hard for the GOP to get its message across, she said. “As long as what we believe is not listened to because we’re a bunch of racist idiots, nothing changes. We can’t bring people into our way of thinking.”
Facey-Muench remembers a time in her life when she was repulsed by Ronald Reagan. “I couldn’t even stand watching him on TV. Immediately those walls went up. I never actually listened to him.”
When she moved to Boulder and started going to church, finding God helped her find conservatism.
But that’s rare. KCarl Smith of the Frederick Douglass Republicans said that ever since Barry Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act in 1964, people started associating conservatism with racism.
The result is that Democrats have a “suffocating grip on the minds of the black community […] That’s how they keep folks tied to the plantation mentality.”
In the analogy, low-income African Americans are slaves and the government is the master.
“On this modern day plantation, you’re paid to stay at home and not work,” he said. “If you get food stamps, you don’t have to work. You get people who made the government their source and their God.”
The federal food stamp program he’s referring to is called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Most SNAP households are white.
The graph below shows participating households by race of the household head in 2015, via Colorado-specific data from the USDA.
A three-person family that brings in $25,700 or less a year is eligible. In 2014, 46-million low-income Americans received an average of $4.17 a day through SNAP. That’s not enough to buy a two-cheeseburger meal at McDonalds.
Most people on food stamps are neither raking it in nor loafing around the house not working. Most SNAP recipients have jobs that don’t pay a livable wage.
Smith argued that the way out of “plantation mentality” is not that employers should start paying workers enough to live on; it’s that low-income workers should become business owners.
African Americans need to “take education seriously,” he said. “Learn how to read and write. Become entrepreneurs. Create jobs.”
Photo credit: Frederick Douglass mural on “Solidarity Wall” by Laurence’s travels, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Big Mac image via WikiMedia. Graphs by Nat Stein and Center on Budget Policy and Policy Priorities.