Out of Africa Come Republicans
Unpleasant circumstances resulted in our family hosting a number of resident home help caregivers from Africa or of African descent. Getting to know them challenged the assumptions the dominant media would have you believe.
My wife contracted a terrible neurologic disease some years ago that gradually took away her ability to care for herself, and eventually my ability to be her sole caregiver. We had people living in our house 24/7 to attend to her for years. Her condition got worse, and she entered hospice care more than a year ago.
All of her caregivers were meticulous in their attention to her, and I learned much from them about their own lives and histories. Almost all were Black, some native-born, but many were immigrants to the United States. They all had interesting stories to share.
Christian, a man from Eastern Nigeria, is in his late 30s and has been in the United States for five years. He waited several years to enter the US, legally of course. Christian told me that he was a Democrat back in the late 90s and really liked Bill Clinton. That’s right, he identified with a United States political party long before he emigrated. He liked Obama at first but told me that when Obama went to Kenya and made “that speech,” he turned against Obama. Christian is now a solid Republican. He told me that when he was driving to our home on his first visit, he prayed that we would not be a house full of Democrats because he found them so disagreeable in general. Christian is looking forward to becoming a citizen in two years and being able to vote at last.
Gwen, another caregiver, is now 70 and lived with us longer than anyone else -- more than two years. She was born and raised in the projects of St. Louis and did not finish high school. She had a baby when she was a teenager and later lived in Akron, Phoenix, and then Los Angeles for many years before coming to North Texas. She spoke beautifully, wrote in a gorgeous longhand that I wish I could duplicate, and had enormous resourcefulness. She had never paid much attention to politics and had always been a Democrat, as had everyone in her family, but she became a fervent Trump supporter, much to her sister’s dismay. She didn’t care, and she would tell anyone just why she switched. She said that Trump was the first politician in her life to make a promise and keep it. She also appreciated his stance on immigration. She knew that all those illegal immigrants were taking jobs away from black people.
Susie is a hospice nurse in her 30s who emigrated from Kenya several years ago. She was visiting us a few days after the 2020 election and said that she was talking with her family back in Africa, and everyone there wanted to know what in the world was going on in the United States. That was when I first found out that everyone else in the world watches the United States very carefully. Susie said that they all knew that there was something badly wrong with the election, and it was going very much the way elections went in Africa. Susie and her family had all identified with the Republicans since Bush 43. They really appreciated how much he had helped with AIDS. They didn’t think much of Obama.
Gloria is a woman in her 30s who was born in Congo and went to Paris with her mother as a girl. They immigrated to this country when she was in her late teens. Gloria speaks five languages, including flawless English. She works for hospice and came to our house twice a week to bathe my wife, who always looked forward to her visits because she was so thorough and yet so gentle. Gloria is another Republican, as is her husband. Both of them think that the election was stolen from Trump.
Iman also hails from Paris, the Paris in northeast Texas, real country as they say down here. Her country accent is so thick that I still have trouble understanding her. She didn’t have much schooling and also had a child as a teenager. That never deterred her, and she is full of energy and ambition. She has nothing but disdain for those who sat at home and took paychecks from the government during the lockdowns. She lived with us for more than a year and took great care of my wife. She never talked politics much, until this year when the massive illegal crossings on the Texas border were instigated by the new administration. That made her furious. Not only the lawbreaking but again the fact that all of those people were coming into Texas and taking jobs away from Black folks. She had always been a Democrat, but no more.
Lauren is a 30-year-old RN from northern Louisiana, divorced with two kids. She is coal black and has never let that interfere with her plans. She is diligently paying off her student loans and wants nothing to do with government help. Her ex-husband recently died of Covid. She’s trying to save up to buy a house but is frustrated because prices keep going up. I never talked politics with her, but I know she would support anyone who could help her achieve her American dream.
There is another Christian, Texas-born and in his early 30s, the son of career enlisted Army parents. He is a special friend of the family, and we appreciated his attention to my wife. He is thoughtful, well-read, and as conservative as I. He still experiences some racial hostility toward himself but shrugs it off. He has aspirations and goals and is not about to let grievances interfere with his plans.
A century ago, Republicans could expect to get about 90% of the Black vote, which now of course is about 90% Democrat. Did the Democrats achieve that remarkable shift by doing nothing? Of course not -- they worked at it. Even in 1932, in the Great Depression, Black people in Chicago voted about 80% Republican, but by the 1936 election, the GOP had lost their majority.
How did the Democrats achieve such a massive shift? They came up with a plan and stuck to it. And then they kept working at it, promising and lying decade after decade. We all should know by now that those on the left never give up. That is at least one trait that the Republican leaders should emulate.
There were many others whom I got to know: Cecilia, originally from Liberia, and now a citizen and a Republican. Her husband is White and voted for Biden, but she told me that he now regrets it. George, from Zambia, a citizen now, and also a Republican. Ursula, recently divorced and homesick for her native San Francisco. Always sweet and never showing anger, but terribly dismayed at what is happening on the border. They all worked through the pandemic, and we never had a single no-show because of illness or any other reason. You would be proud to have them visit your home or live next door. I miss them.
Photo credit: YouTube screengrab
Dr. A is the pen name of a physician who is board certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology, and has practiced medicine for nearly 50 years.
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