Chinese Are Black; Are Vietnamese?

Does the Congressional Black Caucus care about black constituencies?

Some time ago, the South African government decided that Chinese are black by virtue of an official government decree which finally decided an issue which had wandered through the court system for many, many years before its ultimate resolution.  As one of the last-minute highlights of an intellectually fascinating election season, we'll soon find out if Vietnamese, who are genetically similar to Chinese, are also black.

One reason Republicans are less glum than just after the Presidential election is that Republicans have, surprisingly, been winning special elections following Mr. Obama's victory.  In the most recent and resounding victory, a Republican named Anh "Joseph" Cao defeated Rep. William Jefferson, the Democratic member of the House of Representatives who was caught with $90,000 of inexplicable cash stashed in his home freezer, to represent the Louisiana district that represents New Orleans.

Rep. Cao is of Vietnamese extraction; his district is more than 60% black.  A more natural Democratic base could hardly be imagined, and indeed, Rep. Jefferson defeated his opponent by 27 points two years ago.  Not this year; apparently Mr. Obama's coattails do not extend to ballots he's not on, nor to excessively corrupt politicians.

Mr. Cao ran on purely local issues, staying out of the national fray to the best of his ability.  In keeping with his desire to best represent his constituents, Mr. Cao has asked to join the Congressional Black Caucus when he arrives in Washington.

In theory, the Congressional Black Caucus, whose operations are supported by taxpayer-supplied funds, is open to representatives whose districts are predominantly black and not just to representatives who are themselves of that color, but theory and practice are not always the same in the fetid swamps of Washington politics.  The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports:

Since its founding in 1971 by 13 black members of Congress, the caucus has never had a member who was not African-American.  And the caucus has had only one Republican member -- Gary Franks, a former representative from Connecticut -- and that ended in acrimony.

Here we have a government-sponsored blacks-only group trading political advantage and connections in our nation's capital.  As women once wanted to join the "old boys' clubs" in order to make connections and get ahead, there's no reason why a new Representative wouldn't want to join an "old blacks' club" to make connections and get ahead.  After all, his district is mostly black; members of the Congressional Black Caucus ought to have some information for Mr. Cao which would be of benefit to his constituents.

It appears, however, that Mr. Cao is fated to languish without the gates of privilege and connection:

"They're not going to let him; it ain't going to happen," said David Bositis, a seasoned observer of the Congressional Black Caucus at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington.

We've pointed out that the only thing Pelosi's Democrats didn't like about Republicans stealing our money was that they weren't in on it.  Once the Democrats settled into power two years ago, talk of ethics reform died out.

Earmarks went on as usual, and Democrats violated the law without suffering consequences.  The history of Illinois politics in particular is a sorry tale of corrupt cooperation between Democrats and Republicans; as long as the ill-gotten gains were shared around, the "opposing" party didn't much mind.

The only thing Democrats don't like about theft is when they aren't in on it; the only thing Democrats don't like about institutional racism is when someone else does it.  Government-funded racism is OK as long as it's Democrats doing it.

If Mr. Obama truly wants to lead America into a post-racial era, he has his work cut out for him, starting with his own party. A call for the Congressional Black Caucus to accept Rep. Cao as a member would be a good beginning.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Bureaucracy.
Reader Comments
Interesting article.

If Cao is sincere, and is truly interested in, and supports the agenda of the Congressional Black Caucus, I see no reason why he shouldn't be admitted.
December 22, 2008 9:30 AM
Cao has no chance. He isn't black.

The caucus is a government funded racist organization that simply will not allow anyone in their group who isn't black. And they stand proudly behind their racist track record. Even wiki puts it out there for everyone to see.

White membership

Over the years, the question has arisen, "Does the Caucus allow only black members?" Pete Stark, D-Ca., who is white, tried and failed to join in 1975. The caucus does have dozens of honorary members who are white, Hispanic, and Jewish.[citation needed] In January 2007, it was reported that white members of Congress were not welcome to join the CBC.[4] Freshman Representative Steve Cohen, D-Tn., who is white, pledged to apply for membership during his election campaign to represent his constituents, who were 60% black. It was reported that although the bylaws of the caucus do not make race a prerequisite for membership, former and current members of the Caucus agreed that the group should remain "exclusively black." Rep. William Lacy Clay, Jr., D-Mo., the son of Rep. William Lacy Clay Sr., D-Mo., a co-founder of the caucus, is quoted as saying, "Mr. Cohen asked for admission, and he got his answer. He's white and the Caucus is black. It's time to move on. We have racial policies to pursue and we are pursuing them, as Mr. Cohen has learned. It's an unwritten rule. It's understood." In response to the decision, Rep. Cohen stated, "It's their caucus and they do things their way. You don't force your way in."

Rep. Clay issued an official statement from his office:

"Quite simply, Rep. Cohen will have to accept what the rest of the country will have to accept - there has been an unofficial Congressional White Caucus for over 200 years, and now it's our turn to say who can join 'the club.' He does not, and cannot, meet the membership criteria, unless he can change his skin color. Primarily, we are concerned with the needs and concerns of the black population, and we will not allow white America to infringe on those objectives."

On January 25, 2007, Representative Tom Tancredo, R-Co., spoke out against the continued existence of the CBC as well as the Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Republican Congressional Hispanic Conference saying, "It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a color-blind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race. If we are serious about achieving the goal of a colorblind society, Congress should lead by example and end these divisive, race-based caucuses."[5]

December 22, 2008 10:23 AM
Sounds like Mr. Cao should file a civil rights lawsuit against the CBC. If it is illegal for government funds to be used for segregated education, surely it is just as illegal for us to be paying for an overtly racist organization at the Congressional level. If they wish to be a private club, they have every right to do so on whatever basis including racist ones - but not with tax dollars, and not without paying a political price of shame.
December 22, 2008 10:45 AM
"Government-funded racism is OK as long as it's Democrats doing it"

December 22, 2008 12:10 PM
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