We’ve heard it a lot recently from the Twittersphere, from Democratic politicians, from activists: ‘The GOP is ignoring the issues facing black people.’ ‘The right pretends racism doesn’t exist.’ ‘Republicans dismiss the #BlackLivesMatter protesters and only side with the police.’
Senator Tim Scott, Republican from South Carolina, gave a powerful, narrative-changing speech yesterday that changed the conversation.
Scott, one of only two black senators (in addition to Democrat Cory Booker) said the speech was “the most difficult because it’s the most personal.” While he noted the “vast majority” of police are only thinking about “protect and serve” he went on to describe the “deep divide between the black community and law enforcement, a trust gap, a tension that has been growing for decades.”
“As a family, one American family, we cannot ignore these issues,” said Scott.
Scott went on to describe in personal story after personal story the times he has faced issues with law enforcement. Like being stopped seven times in one year, as an elected official, when the “vast majority of the time I was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood, or some other reason just as trivial.”
“Imagine the frustration, the irritation, the sense of a loss of dignity, that accompanies each of those stops,” he said.
But it wasn’t just personal stories for Scott. One of the points often made by #BlackLivesMatter activists is people refuse to “say their name” – to keep the names of those who have died at the hands of police officers in the national discussion. Scott said the names: Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Philando Castile.
“We must find a way to fill these cracks in the very foundation of our country,” said Scott in conclusion.
The GOP doesn’t care about the issues faced by black people in this country? The argument doesn’t work when you have Senator Tim Scott’s powerful and essential voice in the national conversation.
Watch the entire speech.