Editor’s Note: Here is the second part of the two part article on Mia Love from Dr. Darron T. Smith -M.P.
Understanding the Complicated Psyche of the New GOP Darling, Mia Love
Part 2: Navigating The Triad of Oppression
By Dr. Darron T. Smith
Not only have Blacks historically and continually had to battle for their right to coexist as equals in U.S. society, but women have similarly pushed against a glass ceiling. Even today, women still struggle for equal pay, equal rights and equal protection under the law in the workplace as well as in the armed forces. Mia represents one of the most racially discriminated groups in the country as a black female. The same can be said for her Mormon identity as the LDS faithful endured bitter hatred and state-sanctioned terrorism in Missouri and Illinois in the 1800s. Mormonism remains grossly misunderstood and often unfairly judged with respects to their religious views while mainline evangelical traditions continue to wield Christian privilege at the expense of ‘fringe” religions like Mormonism. (Many republican supporters outside of Utah politely ignore Mia’s membership in the LDS Church, lionizing her as a fresh face in the party while secretly lambasting her for belonging to a “religious cult.”) Yet, Love’s political convictions show a strong support for values that do not necessarily represent her interests as a member in any of these three oppressed groups.
In fact, the current mayor of small-town Utah along with other conservative Blacks such as Allen West, Michael Steele, Amy Holmes, Alan Keyes, and Herman Cain ascribe to a party that rejects any notion of group inequality within its basic tenets of individualism. What many conservatives fail to recognize is that individuals are connected to larger groups, and those groups display patterns and behaviors that assess their levels of well being in relation to society. When a group lags as a whole in the American scheme of profitability, it is because they typically display conduct in variance to the all around code that the white, male norm subscribes to. For example, Blacks aren’t doing well with respects to education, economics, and health outcomes while women still lag behind in salary and positions of power. These actualities of Mia’s reality seem to be in concert with her values that are based in a white male Christian context.
But the biggest quandary with respect to Mia lies with her inability to grasp Du Bois’ double consciousness, whether this is due to her Mormon faith and the apparent Stockholm syndrome of black Mormons (whose membership in the LDS church differs widely from those of The Black Church, which helped to sustain the African American community through some of the most difficult and turbulent times in American history rather than perpetuate racist folklore to justify black marginality) or due to her racial consciousness ((http://www.darronsmith.com/2012/05/i-might-look-black-but-i-aint-like-yall-mia-love-the-paradox-of-race-gender-and-religion-in-american-politics/)). By lacking the ability or refusing to code switch with the black community, Mia and others like her are seemingly out of touch with the political realities of African Americans and what remains at stake for them. It would be a mistake to assume that all black people are cut from the same cloth and share the same political inclinations. The Pew Institute estimates some 3 million self-identified black Americans are registered republicans; however, there has yet to be a ground swell of support for the rightwing ideology amongst the vast majority of African American voters. Thus, for most African Americans, it appears absolutely preposterous that someone black, Mormon, and female could possibly support the GOP given its history of anti-black, anti-feminist, and anti-Mormon sentiment. But this isn’t so preposterous when we recognize that American politics is a broken system in the business of servicing big corporations wherein Americans are duped into voting their values even when it contradicts their political interests and success as a social group. African Americans are the only racial group that votes in blocks and, I would argue, the only group to vote their interests. But Mia Love does not align herself with African American interests, which is why a figure like her is so fascinating to many and, yet, unconvincing to others.
As potentially the first Mormon, black female from the state of Utah in the House, she has captured national attention. And her recent ascendency onto the political scene could not have come at a more convenient time when there has been a surge of interest in Mormonism due to definitive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. With the race beliefs and ideology that Mormons have been subjected to defending, Mia Love, as a seemingly bright and well-spoken GOP candidate, will prove to be a counter-answer to those raised eyebrows.
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