Brooklyn’s Black Republicans Say More GOP Outreach Needed

Constantin Jean-Pierre

States have turned in their certified election results and are throwing out any opposing lawsuits, making the election results official. With that finality, people are continuing to celebrate as if backing President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was synonymous with American democracy and the explosive Black Lives Matter movement. 

So where does that leave people of color who voted for the losing candidate in Brooklyn? In the past Black soldiers fought for patriots and the crown, the north and the south, the right and the left, with nothing but the goal of freedom in mind no matter the side. 

KCP caught up with a few Brooklynites, who said that their Republicanism took on a whole new weight this year and that they saw almost no outreach into Black and Caribbean communities from party leaders despite immense claims of diversity. 

Christine Parker

Christine Parker, who was once a candidate for the 35th City Council District race, said she made the switch from Democrat to Republican around 2017. She said she had been a Democrat pretty much all her life, but she never aligned with certain government values. “ I don’t want anything for free,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with hard work. I’m really committed to limited government, free market economics, and small businesses are the backbone of our country. What’s happening in New York City is a travesty.” 

Parker said that the GOP rallies around a candidate, like U.S Rep-elect Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), if they align with the conservative party but otherwise there’s little support from county leadership. She said there is a desire within equally conservative communities of African and Caribbean descent because they tend to be more traditional. 

“Are they given a voice? Absolutely not,” said Parker. “I find it depends on your community, your district. The GOP overall is fractured. There’s a segment that comes together and understands the importance of bringing everyone under the tent with diversity not being an issue. The issue is if we’re talking about Brooklyn, I would remiss to say that about the GOP outreach. It’s very lukewarm.”

Parker also said that the Conservative Party in Brooklyn is seemingly more unified, and she had had ambitions of becoming a district leader and eventually Party Chairperson last year.

“I think part of the issue, forget diversity for a second, there’s an age issue. Old district leaders need to understand that we’re in desperate, dire need for new leadership and that we’re losing potential voters and the party because there happens to be a propensity to perpetuate district leaders who are ineffective or inactive,” said Parker.

James Caldwell

Similarly, James Caldwell, a long-time resident in Flatbush, said he couldn’t say he’d personally seen a rise in his party within the Black community because of a lack of outreach. He said there was a chance before and after the election to do so but they’re not going to because Democrats have a stronghold. 

Caldwell said he was also a Democrat for over 40 years before he made the switch in 2015.

“The more Republicans we have reaching out to our Black and Brown people, the more things we can make happen in our community, but when there’s only one party it makes it very difficult. Nobody’s really paying attention,” said Caldwell.

He said if they were serious about uplifting and putting resources in Black and Brown communities then Republicans would reach out more to people with overlapping conservative values because they don’t often have someone to go to.

Constantin Jean-Pierre

In opposition, Constantin Jean-Pierre, a staunch member of the Republican and Conservative Party, said that he saw his base grow this year.

Jean-Pierre ran in the 9th Congressional District race this year and lost the election with 15 percent of the vote against incumbent U.S. Rep Yvette D. Clarke, who swept the race with 83 percent of the votes.

 “I’m willing to accept defeat gracefully and work on 2022, but the base obviously grew compared to the last person who ran in this district as a Republican,” said Jean-Pierre.

He said plenty of Black people are getting more comfortable with the idea of voting Republican because not everyone votes the same. “Black people are complex too and different. If you’re going to make a message you can’t have one size fits all. You have to address legitimate issues in the community,” said Jean-Pierre. 

Jean-Pierre said people in the 9th district want to know what’s happening with immigration, small businesses, and churches and synagogues. He said New York can be liberal but to get out of the current crisis there needs to be more “fiscal conservatism” in terms of cutbacks.

“The churches are still shut down,” said Jean-Pierre, who is a devout Christian.

Pastor Noe Jean-Baptist at the Gospel Crusade Church of the Pentecost that has a primarily Haitian congregation, said though he is a Republican and very conservative towards abortion and LGBTQIA+ policies, he imagines most of the people at the church vote Democrat because they’re not receptive to change.  

Jean-Baptist said going into former President Barack Obama’s second term he felt his values no longer aligned with the Democratic platform. 

“I think Constantin Jean-Pierre is probably one of the exceptions because he grew up in our church, but there could be more outreach here. Republicans are not only for the rich,” said Jean-Baptist about general outreach and diversity from other Republicans.