Last week, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith went to bat for black conservatives in response to remarks by former Cleveland Browns hall of fame running back Jim Brown’s questioning of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s commitment to the black culture on an episode of Arsenio Hall’s TV show.
“He is somewhat confused about culture, because he was brought up in another country,” Brown said. “[Bryant] doesn’t quite fit what’s happening in America.”
However, according to Smith, Brown’s statement was part of a larger lack of historical perspective by the black community when it comes to civil rights in the United States.
On Sean Hannity’s radio show on Wednesday, Smith elaborated on the view he had expressed on ESPN’s “First Take” earlier this week.
“Well first of all, if I’m being totally honest about our community – I mean, I’m not just a black man,” Smith said.
I’m a proud black man. I love my people. But at the same time, I think we got to be honest with ourselves about history. Back in 1964, as many people may not know – some of the people in your audience many know – when you had a Lyndon B. Johnson running against a Barry Goldwater… Barry Goldwater was against civil rights legislation. Lyndon B. Johnson was in support of it. But the Democrats by and large did not support it nearly as much as the Republican Senate did. And it was the Republicans that pushed civil rights legislation to the president’s desk in order for it to be signed into law. But because it was Lyndon B. Johnson who was a Democratic president that signed it into law, basically the Democrats got credit for the action put forth by a bunch of Republicans. People have to know some degree of their history to understand that reality, because since that moment in time, the black population hasn’t given the Republican Party more than fifteen percent of its vote.
Smith went on to explain this has resulted in a larger structural political problem for the black community by which their vote is dismissed by the Republican Party and taken granted by the Democratic Party.
And so what I’m saying to us as black people, if you tell the Republican Party there’s no way we’re interested in supporting you thereby giving the Democratic Party pretty much 85-plus percent of your vote, you’ve essentially served to assistant anyway in disenfranchising yourself because you told one party you want nothing to do with them, and you’ve told the other party they don’t have to work for your vote. So neither side is working for you. And as a result, they have the opportunity to cater to other people because one side knows you’re not going anywhere and the other side knows they’re going to have your support anyway.