In Congress, there are few lawmakers who are more partisan, more liberal, or more stomach-churning than Rep. Steve Cohen.
But an anecdote involving the Tennessee Democrat sheds some enlightenment on contemporary racial politics.
In January 2007, shortly after being sworn in, Cohen, who is white, wanted to join the Congressional Black Caucus. He even promised to become its first white member during his campaign.
Yet, as Politico reported at the time, Cohen “dropped his bid after several current and former caucus members made it clear to him that whites need not apply.”
One CBC member, Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Missouri Democrat, told Politico, “It’s an unwritten rule. It’s understood. It’s clear.”
Give the CBC credit, though. Its policies on discrimination have only expanded.
Breitbart News reported on Wednesday that the CBC has now rejected Rep. Byron Donalds.
Which is odd, because Donalds is black.
But perhaps the CBC sees his sin as worse than Cohen’s skin color: Donalds, of Florida, is a Republican.
BuzzFeed first reported that the CBC was snubbing Donalds. He has spoken openly of joining, and petitioned three members for an invitation. But so far, no response.
BuzzFeed noted that there are no black Republicans in the CBC.
On CNN on Thursday, Donalds addressed the issue.
“I’m a poor kid from Brooklyn, New York. I’m 42 years old. I’ve been able to be successful in my life, so whether it’s talking about jobs or, yes, even voting rights or anything that the CBC wants to talk about, I have a perspective being a 42-year-old black man who has come up in America after a lot of the battles through the civil rights movement that I think actually would be helpful and a helpful perspective to the CBC,” Donalds told CNN’s hosts.
“Whether they want to take advantage of that is really up to them, but it’s something that I’ve actually expressed interest in joining. I think having a wider range of discussions from all sides of the political framework is important, not just for black America but all America.”
When one host pointed out Donalds’ support for former President Donald Trump, the lawmakers replied, “First of all, whatever the president said in the past has nothing to do with this discussion at all.”
Donalds then added, “As a black man in America, I’m allowed to have my own thoughts on who I choose to support and who I choose not to support.”
“I think that it’s important,” Donalds continued, “whether you’re talking about the Congressional Black Caucus or the Florida State Legislative Black Caucus or the National Caucus of State Black Legislators — organizations I have been a part of in the past — my support of President Trump has been consistent, but at the same time, I’ve had the ability to advocate for issues, ideas, proposals and funding that have helped the black community in my state.”
Android Users, Click Here To Download The Free Press App And Never Miss A Story. It’s Free And Coming To Apple Users Soon.