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The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Andrew Yang And The Amen Corner

Steffanie Rivers
Steffanie Rivers

*Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is doing the most to try to get black votes in 2020.

He’s the first Asian-American to run for president if the United States. I discovered him last September when I saw a video of him crowd-surfing at a campaign forum.

I assume he was trying to appeal to generation Xers who do more social media posts and socializing than asking questions about issues that effect their communities.

He polled high enough to be included in several of the national democratic debates. But his ratings consistently ranked him near the bottom of the pack. Yang got himself invited to a FOX news live interview after he spoke out against efforts to impeach President Donald Trump. That probably hurt his standing among prospective democratic supporters. The next time I paid attention to Yang was because his wife, Evelyn, said she had been sexually assaulted by her doctor during a pregnancy exam. I’m sure her ordeal appealed to some of the #MeToo movement supporters, other women and anybody else who empathized with her.

After Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker dropped out of the presidential race due to dwindling financial support, I guess Yang saw the opportunity to become the (pseudo) candidate of the black community.

I give him credit for going on The Breakfast Club national radio show to talk politics. Yet, when Charlamagne tha god asked him about his specific platform as it relates to the black community, Andrew started talking that yang (I couldn’t resist) about prison reform! Of the thousands of people I know personally, just a handful of them have criminal records. Charlamagne must have felt the same as me and let Yang know prison is not a cultural gateway for all African-Americans. When Yang couldn’t come up with specific legislation he would push for the black community he said his general legislation would improve all communities: The ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ philosophy that never has worked in our favor, even when President Barack Obama promised it would.

But this last stunt is too much. Feeling the pressure to appeal to the souls of black folks in Iowa, Yang went to church where most politicians gravitate as their election day draws near. Instead of sitting in the pews among parishioners, or sitting in the pulpit with the pastor – which is overstepping boundaries – Yang sought out one of the few black churches in Waterloo, donned a robe and sang with the choir just in time for Iowa’s caucus vote next month. I’m offended for a number of reasons.

Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang

It would be one thing if this was Yang’s church home and he was a member of the choir who just happened to be running for president. But that’s not the case. It would be another thing if Yang went to, say, a Native American pow wow, donned a headdress and started tribal dancing, but he wouldn’t dare. Despite their small population Native Americans demand respect by the way they carry themselves as a collective. So why is it that some people think it’s okay to show up at our place of worship and jump in the choir like it’s double dutch? Because we allow it! We show little to no respect for ourselves as a collective group and we don’t demand respect from others. Yang, as with any candidate, might be welcome to visit. But he never should have been invited to put on a robe and enter the choir box! It was inappropriate at best and miss-appropriation at worst! He should seek votes based on his political platform. If that’s not getting him the boost he needs, improve it!

Even though a large percentage of African-Americans say they are spiritual and attend religious services regularly, Yang assumes too much to think that we’re so collectively gullible as to vote for someone just because he sang in the choir at a black church one Sunday. At least I hope nobody is that gullible. If he is as spiritual as he claims to be Yang should know better than to try religious manipulation.

If Yang doesn’t realize it was the wrong thing to do, it tells me he’s not only willing to play with God, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to convince people of his sincerity even when he is not. He reminds me of Mr. two Corinthians.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at [email protected] with questions, comments and speaking inquiries.

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