It’s difficult for most white people in America to understand the alienating experience of being the only person of your skin color in a room. And yet it’s an experience many black people in this country have become accustomed to.
And it’s an ironic way of life for U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina who is also the only black GOP member in the Senate.
Scott’s unique position often requires him to maintain an odd duality — to represent his race to Republicans, and to represent his party to his race.
What is it like to be on that island in Washington?
POLITICO Magazine feature writer Tim Alberta recently profiled Tim Scott. It’s titled “God Made Me Black on Purpose”.
“Concerned about narrowing his brand, the senator long has tried to downplay his ethnic exceptionalism and avoid the role of race-relations ambassador for the GOP. And yet Scott, now more than ever, cannot seem to escape being perceived as such. He is not just a generic black Republican in a generic period of history; he is the most powerful and prominent black elected official in America, serving at a time of heightened racial tension and widespread accusations of xenophobia against his own party and the president who leads it. This ensures that Scott wears a target on his back regardless of the issue or crisis at hand. When race is involved, the stakes are even higher, forcing upon him decisions of personal and political identity: Scott can choose to stay silent and be accused of selling out his heritage, or speak out and be defined by his blackness.”
Alberta joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about his profile and his time getting to know Sen. Scott.
“I think the reason that he has stayed in the Republican party is he is sort of in that throw-back Republican style as far as just being a very pro-business, sort of chamber-of-commerce-style Republican,” Alberta says of Sen. Scott.
“The argument you will hear from lots of (black Republicans)… ‘I don’t deny that the party has a very troubling history on some of these things. But what happens if we all just walk away from the party? What happens then? Does that do anything to improve discourse between the two parties and within the party itself?’”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.