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Black Elephants in the RoomThe Unexpected Politics of African American Republicans$
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Corey D. Fields

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520291898

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520291898.001.0001

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Beyond Uncle Tom

Beyond Uncle Tom

(p.56) Chapter Two Beyond Uncle Tom
Black Elephants in the Room

Corey D. Fields

University of California Press

This chapter explores contemporary African American Republicans' reputation by looking at two important constituencies: other black people and white Republicans. Though they manifest it in different ways, black Republicans fear that their partisanship causes both groups to question their racial authenticity. Among other blacks, this questioning coalesces into a “sellout critique” that frames African American Republicans as operating counter to their black identity. On the other hand, African American Republicans report being held in a “skeptical embrace” by white Republicans who worry that African American Republicans will not be able to subordinate their racial identity to their Republican partisanship. Both the sellout critique and the skeptical embrace are grounded in a perceived incongruence between black racial identity and Republican partisanship. Yet African American Republicans themselves articulate strong identification with black identity and Republican partisanship. As a consequence, they are challenged with linking their racial identity and their partisanship in a way that removes unexpectedness.

Keywords:   African American Republicans, black people, white Republicans, black Republicans, Republican partisanship, racial authenticity, black identity, racial identity

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