Why Democrats Aren’t for Black Folk

“I recognize the Republican Party as the sheet anchor of the colored man’s political hopes and the ark of his safety.”1
Frederick Douglass

A great many Jamaicans live by brand Jamaica and use the motto build Jamaica, buy Jamaica. Many Jamaicans will agree that brain drain is hurting Jamaica, right? Yea… but as Amazon digs digital tunnels to everybody’s yard, maybe we ain’t so loyal to brand Jamaica, eh? Maybe we’ve been doing less building and buying in Jamaica. And if Trump wants to block out illegal immigrants with a wall and that would cut some of the brain drain that often happens via illegal immigration, maybe we aren’t against brain drain eh? Because Trump wants to build a wall we can’t be bothered solving brain drain, we are just going to say any act he commits is racist, right? Because the media knows how to goad us to cheer and operate against our own self-interest, right?

You know what else is peculiar, how the Caribbean tends to root for the Democrats in America when they tend to enforce the Monroe Doctrine in the Caribbean and Republicans far less so. I remember many Jamaicans hooting and hollering for Bill Clinton and saying he was the first Black president “before Obama”. Yet he helped gut our economy with NAFTA and by taking us to the WTO to get our preferential treatment by our former colonizers removed which wrecked agriculture, yet Black folk celebrated him. Obama imposed new tax regimes on us, and waved a finger at our marijuana industry and reprimand us for doing business with China! Yet I wonder would his administration have been willing to bless us with modern infrastructure? I doubt! But woo we cheer on the Democrats like we have a vote her in Jamaica.

Which side of history do you think Democrats were on when it came to slavery? They were the ones who fought the civil war in America to try to keep slavery in America… think about that? Democrats were for slavery, Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, and in those days Blacks supported the Republican Party! Imagine that!

Martin Luther King Jr. police mugshot following his arrest for protests in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963

Am I alone in such thinking? No… Consider these words from Martin Luther King Jr., a pacifist one the issue of the democrats, as you may be tempted to think I am a fire brand! In his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. said:

I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate (i.e. “Democrat”). I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negroes’ great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s “Counciler” or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”2

Imagine Martin Luther King Jr. said that about them, wow! Now consider Malcolm X on the issue. White liberals and white conservatives, according to Malcolm X, are two sides of the same coin. He believed that both groups claim to be concerned about racial equality, but their actions and motivations differ. Malcolm X stated that white liberals, or as he called them, “foxes,” are hypocritical. They pretend to support civil rights but ultimately uphold the same oppressive system. On the other hand, White conservatives, or “wolves,” are openly racist and don’t hide their discriminatory beliefs. Malcolm X emphasized that while the foxes may seem friendlier, they are just as harmful as the wolves. So, in a nutshell, Malcolm X saw little difference between White liberals and White conservatives when it came to the fight for racial equality.

As Malcolm saw it Democrats are tricky foxes pretending to be friendly and Republicans are plainly wolves making their danger clear to you. Think about that for a minute! Then consider what I am about to tell you next, that Garvey held a secret meeting with Edward Young Clarke, the leader of the Ku Klux Klan, in June 1922. Garvey’s belief in racial separatism, his advocacy of the migration of African Americans to Africa, and his opposition to miscegenation endeared him to the KKK, which supported many of the same policies. Garvey was willing to collaborate with the KKK in order to achieve his aims, and it was willing to work with him because his approach effectively coincided with its belief that the U.S. should only be a country for white people and campaigns for advanced rights for African Americans who are living within the U.S. should be abandoned. Garvey called for collaboration between Black and White separatists, stating that they shared common goals: “the purification of the races, their autonomous separation and the unbridled freedom of self-development and self-expression. Those who are against this are enemies of both races, and rebels against morality, nature and God.”3 In his view, the KKK and other far-right white groups were “better friends” of Black people “than all other groups of hypocritical whites put together” because they were honest about their desires and intentions.

The Black Star Line, taking its name from the Liverpool-founded shipping company, was a Marcus Garvey contribution to to the Back-to-Africa movement. It operated between 1919 and 1922.

In exploring the complex relationship between Democrats and the Black community, it is my hope that this article sheds light on historical perspectives and challenges prevailing notions. I want to highlight the dissonance between party affiliations and the interests of Black folk, questioning the allegiance given the impact of policies on various communities. Drawing from the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, this is a caution against blind trust in political labels, urging a critical examination of actions and motivations. Ultimately, I want to reminds you dear reader, of the importance of seeking true justice and equality, transcending partisan boundaries, and striving for a society that uplifts all.

About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger,  History and Social Studies Teacher, Community Activist, Artist and Entrepreneur. Follow Yannick on Twitter and Instagram at @yahnyk | yannickpessoa@yahoo.com. Text originally published by Western Mirror.


  1. Letter to men from Petersburg, VA, August 15, 1888
  2. King Jr., Martin. Luther. (1963). “Letter from the Birmingham Jail. In American.” Originally published in entirety by American Friends Service Committee in May 1963. Philadelphia, PA.
  3. Garvey, Marcus. (1925). In Negro World, November 7.
  4. Article’s featured image. First Colored US Senator and Representatives, Republican. Originally published by Currier & Ives, NY in 1872.