I am sure you have heard the phrase “If you are going to talk the talk you have to walk the walk!” In today’s political environment people are fed up with politicians and political organizations who claim to support minority engagement and diversity. No one trusts politicians who just say they are committed to making improvements or changes but fail to back it up with action.
At the Republican National Committee (RNC) with Ronna McDaniel leading as Chairwoman, I am proud to see firsthand how serious our minority engagement efforts have been throughout her tenure. She has invested time, treasure, resources, and staff.
This week, the RNC sponsored our annual Rising Stars program here in Washington, DC. This program is designed to share career advice and showcase opportunities in politics for “Rising Stars” within the Republican Party. Historically, for many communities of color there has not been a strong GOP presence. We have worked to change that in recent years with our RNC Community Centers and by encouraging so many minority candidates to run for office as Republicans at all levels.
The RNC is committed to not just engaging with minority communities for elections but growing our party through investments in young minority leaders. This year’s Rising Stars cohort is made up of 14 young Republicans from 12 states and Guam. Six young Black Republicans — Makayla Washington from Arkansas, Bethany Johnson from Connecticut, Emmanuel Jones from Pennsylvania, Jessica Herron from Mississippi, Jessica White from Missouri, and John Philip Clay from Indiana — are eager to get even more involved in the GOP.
I was impressed to see they are already getting involved in their local Republican offices in major ways, from interning to campaign management. They are proof that the GOP is more diverse and growing — not just with voters but with candidates and our Rising Stars activists. These are the young leaders who will one day take up the leadership mantle on political campaigns, local and national GOP organizations, and be key staff in Congress and the White House.
There is no way I would limit them to just being staff. These passionate young Black Republicans could end up running for office and winning like Jalen Johnson, Julian Bradley, Roxy Ndebumadu, and Caleb Hanna.
Thankfully, they have examples to look to within our party for leadership at all levels, from staff to elected and appointed officials. But we are helping them understand and prepare for the continued attacks from the progressive, woke liberal left and the mainstream media.
While the Black community is not in lockstep behind any one political party or movement, we should have the basic human decency not to commit personal character assassination on one another just because we disagree politically. Time and time again, whether it is on social media platforms, op-eds, the radio, or cable TV programs, Black Republicans are attacked for being free thinking, independent minded Americans who have decided to be affiliated with the Republican Party and conservative causes.
The danger for us if we sit back silently and allow these personal attacks to continue, we will end up with young people afraid to speak up, get involved, and be engaged in politics. We can’t let fear of being ostracized or blacklisted from potential career opportunities stop young conservatives from growing their careers.
It is fair to ask why a person happens to be involved in one party over another. What is unfair is to call into question their race or connection to the Black community if they happen to be Republican. It is in our best interest to have quality representation at every level on both sides of the aisle. The RNC is doing our part to make sure that young minority Republicans feel valued, welcome, and wanted in our Party.
The RNC Rising Star Program is just one part of our multimillion-dollar minority engagement investment. I have no doubt these young leaders will soon be household names in our Party for the betterment of our community and country.
Paris Dennard is the National Spokesperson and Director of Black Media Affairs for the Republican National Committee (RNC). Follow him on Twitter: @PARISDENNARD.