Dominion of New York


July 11, 2012

5 Gaffes Romney Must Avoid to Woo Black Voters

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Written by: Kelly Virella
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Mitt Romney. Photo Courtesy of Flickr/DaveLawrence8


fter months of ignoring African-American voters Mitt Romney and his advisors have done the math and figured out that if they dampen our enthusiasm for President Barack Obama, they might be able to capture some of our votes, or — just as valuable to them — convince some of us to stay home. Ergo this week’s sudden explosion of headlines proclaiming Mitt Romney’s undying love for black folks. Every minute of his campaign, he’s been thinking of us and our problems and today, he’s coming to the NAACP to profess his love and explain his rescue plan. How romantic!

Assuming his intentions are good, I want to offer him some coaching about wooing black America. Here’s a list of 5 gaffes he must avoid and 4 things he would need to do to capture our hearts.

    1. DON’T start going to black churches and speaking from the pulpit. This will backfire, because you will sound wooden. Remember “I love the lakes … the great lakes, but all the little inland lakes?” Not a good look, bro.
    2. DON’T do a hip-hop song. In fact, don’t even do a hip-hop lyric.
    3. DON”T use ‘black’ slang or Ebonics. Two words to especially avoid: “Bling-bling.”
    4. DON’T overstate the connection between you or your family and black leaders. People have the Internet bro. They research shit.
    5. DON’T be afraid — as you are in the above video — to say forthrightly that Mormon church doctrine was wrong about black people. See? It’s easy. Say it and keep it moving.
    6. DO offer something other than 1960s thinking about race relations. We’re not Martin Luther King. We’re not in the Civil Rights Movement. You gotta do more than say you support civil rights and oppose discrimination.
    7. DO end the drug war against black people. That is all.
    8. DO improve our schools, so that we have an equal opportunity to learn. (Notice: I’m not suggesting that you enforce Brown v. Board. I’m suggesting that you enforce Plessy v. Ferguson).
    9. DO help us finance our businesses. It’s a shame that most of the business owners in black urban communities are not black.

About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


Official portrait from his tenure as US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.