How not to connect with minority communities

HOW NOT TO CONNECT WITH MINORITY COMMUNITIES…. When Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) wasn’t rejecting job-creating transportation funds, he was meeting with African-American state lawmakers, trying to demonstrate his ability to connect. It didn’t go well.

Gov. Rick Scott welcomed black legislators to lunch Tuesday at the Governor’s Mansion, but his choice of words left some feeling more alienated than ever.

In discussing his own humble origins, Scott implied that all black lawmakers grew up poor.

“I grew up probably in the same situation as you guys,” Scott said to the group of 20 Democrats. “I started school in public housing. My dad had a sixth-grade education.”

And to think, all Rick Scott had to do was go on to defraud taxpayers for several years and commit a variety of felonies, and look at the man he is today.

But the point, of course, is the racial angle. Lex Luthor Gov. Scott spoke to 20 black lawmakers, and without knowing anything about their backgrounds, simply assumed that they came from low-income backgrounds with uneducated parents. Why? Because of the color of their skin.

Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, said she was offended by the remark, but did not protest at the time because she said it was more important to have a productive dialogue with the new governor.

Afterward, she said, “He assumed that everyone [in the room] was poor and that can only be because you’re black.”

This reminds me a lot of the time, a couple of years ago, when then-RNC Chairman Michael Steele was on CNN with Chuck D from Public Enemy, and Steele was trying to relate to the rapper. “What struck me about hip-hop as a genre, as music, as whatever you want to call it, a culture, was the fact that you have guys like yourself who come out of the projects, come off the street. Myself, I grew up on Eighth Street in DC. That’s a whole different world from where I am right now,” Steele said at the time.

Chuck D replied, “I grew up in Roosevelt, Long Island. It’s not the projects.”

Here’s a tip for Republicans: don’t make racial assumptions. It tends to go poorly.

And in the larger context, Kevin Donohoe raised a good point the other day: between Maine’s Paul LePage, Ohio’s John Kasich, and Mississippi’s Haley Barbour, this really hasn’t been a good year for Republican governors and race.