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Larry Elder
Larry Elder
26 Nov 2015
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Whitney Houston Critics Called Her ‘Too White' -- Black Republicans Can Relate


Whitney Houston died at the age of 48. Most articles about her death said something like, "Houston struggled with drug and alcohol problems for years ..."

But Houston also struggled with something else that black Republicans and black non-Democrats can understand: ridicule and ostracism for "selling out," or "acting white," or not being "black enough."

Ebony, the black monthly magazine, wrote about the then-27-year-old: "Black disc jockeys have chided her for 'not having soul' and being 'too white.' ... She was booed at the Soul Train Music Awards. ... It's enough to drive a good Christian girl to drink, drugs or at least to cursing. But not Whitney. Though it hurts her deeply, she handles it all with aplomb."

Did she?

After Houston's marriage to Bobby Brown, and after years of Houston's erratic behavior and rumors of drug abuse, I spoke to singer-actress Della Reese, a longtime Houston family friend. Reese and I were in the greenroom of a television studio, and we talked about Reese's career. I told her that my mother remembered having seen a young Reese at a Washington, D.C., nightclub called either "The Cave" or "The Cove."

She laughed and said, "The Cave."

We talked about then-current Whitney Houston/Bobby Brown headlines. "I have a theory about Whitney Houston," I said. "I've been called 'Uncle Tom,' and I know how that feels. I think Whitney was so hurt by being called a 'sellout' and 'acting white' — and crap like that — she wanted to change her image. What better way to do that than to marry a bad boy? And the drug abuse makes her a flawed person fighting to overcome her demons. Makes her relatable."

Reese, a close friend of Cissy Houston, Whitney's mom, said: "I know the family well. And there's a lot of truth in what you're saying." Reese gave me permission to discuss our exchange, as long as I made one thing clear. Reese said: "The human voice is very forgiving, and Whitney is working things out. And she will come back."

Black Republicans can relate to the name-calling.

A black St. Petersburg Times columnist wrote this about black Republicans: "Some creatures are just plain strange, making us do double takes because their compositions or habits or appearances defy our sense of logic and our way of viewing reality. Take the wildebeest, the warthog, the hyena, the brown pelican, the Shar-Pei. These animals, seemingly wrought by committee, make us laugh or shake our heads.

"Another such creature, of the human kind — and perhaps the strangest of all — is the black Republican.

... Black Republicans fail to understand that white Republicans will never accept them as equals. Although they will not acknowledge the truth, white Republicans, like most other whites, view black Republicans as strange creatures."

The 27-year-old Houston, in Ebony's 1991 interview, admitted being called "too white" hurt her: "'Picture this,' she says. ... 'You wake up every day with a magnifying glass over you. Someone always is looking for something — somebody, somewhere is speaking your name every five seconds of the day, whether it's positive or negative. ...

"'And don't say I don't have soul or what you consider to be 'blackness.' I know what my color is. I was raised in a black community with black people, so that has never been a thing with me. Yet I've gotten flak about being a pop success, but that doesn't mean that I'm white. ... Pop music has never been all-white.'"

Black Republican Michael Steele was a lot older than 27 when, during his 2002 Maryland campaign for lieutenant governor, he was derided as "Simple Sambo" and depicted as a black-faced minstrel. At a gubernatorial debate, Oreo cookies were distributed by the opposition. The Washington Times later wrote: "Delegate Salima Siler Marriott, a black Baltimore Democrat, said Mr. Steele invites comparisons to a slave who loves his cruel master or a cookie that is black on the outside and white inside because his conservative political philosophy is, in her view, anti-black."

You don't have to be black to demean a black Republican.

The tea party supported Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., a black man who denounced Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, and urged them to "get the hell out of the United States of America." Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., a white man, said that West is "not representative of the African-American community." About West, a former Army colonel who saw action in Iraq, Moran insultingly said: "(West) just seems clueless now that he has climbed aboard ship. He's climbed this ladder of opportunity that was constructed by so many of his ancestors' sweat, sacrifice, blood. You know they did everything they could for his generation to be successful. But now that he's climbed on board ship, instead of reaching down and steadying the ladder, he wants to push it off. You know — 'I'm up here, if you're not with me, too bad.'"

So, a white Democrat — whose party hasn't carried the "white vote" in nearly 50 years — tells West, a black Republican, that he is not "representative of the African-American community."

Bet Whitney could relate.

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




4 Comments | Post Comment
So, too, President Obama.
He is what most African Americans are not, a first generation African American and he epitomizes the very best of both races and the political race.
Comment: #1
Posted by: demecra zydeem
Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:49 PM
Re: demecra zydeem
Wow....except President Obama panders to the liberal elite. He doesn't care about the black community, the white community, the jewish community, the gay community, etc, etc. He only cares about being reelected so he can destroy our country more. I have utmost respect for the Office of POTUS, but none for the man that currently occupies it. Your comment about Obama epitomizing the best of both his races may be accurate. You comment about his " of...political race." is ignorant, kool-aid drinking, liberal worshipping, bullcookies.
This article is about black Republican's being treated poorly by the left because black Republicans or black conservatives had the audacity to break with the conventional liberal ideology. Stick to commenting on the stories, not spreading your liberal idiocy.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Rich Duncan
Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:48 AM
Re: Rich Duncan. DITTO!
I never drank nor drink Kool-Aid. I worship God only, and know nothing about bullcookies as I neither eat meat nor processed foods. Black Republicans will always be referred to as black Republican's first and last until they follow the lead and are able to command the same respect as the great Colin Powell who never let the color of his skin or the race of his parents or family define him. Some such as Colin Powell and President Obama are able to transcend labels; unfortunately none can escape racial bigotry. We can escape racial profiling. And that is how I read this column as an indictment on racial profiling.
Now go play with your toys.
Comment: #3
Posted by: demecra zydeem
Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:31 AM
Demecra said "Black Republicans will always be referred to as black Republican's first and last until they follow the lead ...", that is code for "stay down on that liberal plantation." Demecra, you wascally wascist. You tell those black folks who to follow and what to think, and if they ain't Colin Powell they ain't no good.. You can disavow knoWledge of kool-aid and bullcookies because your diet is so pure, but your heart is pure rascist.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Tom
Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:21 AM
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