I recall telling my mother that I was going to be a Republican after winning my first election to the Arizona chapter of Teen Age Republicans' executive board while in high school.

Her response was, “That’s great son, just don’t tell you grandfather, he’s a Democrat!” Half joking, half serious, my mother never judged me, always encouraged me to pursue my goals, believe in myself and have the courage to stand up for my convictions. Growing up, I always heard the phrase, “Remember who you are and whose you are.” I never forgot that.

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As a Republican who happens to be black, I have sadly grown accustomed to being called some of the most derogatory and racist terms in the bigoted lexicon of the ignorant. I have experienced racism living the middle-class black experience in Phoenix, Ariz., parts of South Carolina and even here in Washington, D.C. It was and will always be their problem, their ignorance and their jealousy of my achievements.

I lost friends and have been ridiculed over my support of President George W. Bush, Senator John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGrassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices Listen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal MORE, Governor Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Senate should host the State of the Union Dem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King GOP reasserts NATO support after report on Trump’s wavering MORE and now President Donald J. Trump. However, there is something different about the level of viciousness coming my way, because of my support of our current president.

The recent events in Charlottesville, Va., unmasked the reality that there are still deep-rooted racial divides that extend beyond church services and public schools. There is a palpable and growing segment of disenfranchised, hopeless and fearful young people who are lashing out and blaming people who do not look like them in the process. There is also more media attention and access given towards the spread of bigotry from domestic hates groups in the United States.

Let me be clear, I would never support anyone in public or in private if I felt they were racist, and went against everything I was raised to believe in and stand for politically. My integrity, and my good name, is worth more than that. Politicians and political leaders come and go but I have to sleep at night, look my family and future children in the eye and say what I stood for and supported was right.

That said, when President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE disavowed the KKK and David Duke in March of 2016, I supported him. When President Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” on August 12, 2017, I supported him. When President Trump said “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” on August 14, 2017, I supported him. When President Trump said, "I've condemned neo-Nazis” and “I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family, and this country. And that is — you can call it terrorism,” on August 15, 2017, I supported him.

The facts are that President Trump has repeatedly denounced hate groups, like he did again at the MAGA Phoenix Rally August 22, 2017, but it seems as if that is still not good enough. Many on the left and in the media did not hold President Obama to the same standard after the Charleston nine domestic terrorism attack by a white supremacist.

In a recent CNN appearance, I brought up Charleston to address the need to be fair and not hypocritical. My statement that President Obama did not name the racist groups or call the perpetrator a domestic terrorist was fact checked and proven to be accurate.

I have the utmost respect for Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush but, in their joint statement after Charlottesville, they did not call out the hate groups by name, and everyone was fine with their appropriate statement.

But for President Trump there seems to be another standard. Why do they continue to move the goal post for this career businessman, this outsider non-politician? There seems to be a carefully crafted campaign to discredit everything that he is and does.

They claim “Make America Great Again” is racist but did not claim that when President Clinton used the phrase in 1992. They do this because his victories undermine the very notion that he could actually be a great president who wants to really help minorities, the forgotten, and those in fragile communities. They said minorities hated him but he received more black votes than Governor Romney and Senator McCain, winning 13 percent of young black males' support.

Hatred, bigotry, and ignorance know no political party. Unfortunately, there is still enough to go around.

President Trump was not in office when a group of fraternity members chanted a racist song to a complacent group of their peers; Donald Trump was not the president who praised former KKK member, Sen. Robert Byrd; he did not filibuster the Civil Rights Act; and he was not the cause of the Civil War, or Jim Crow laws. Rather, he is the president now whose words are being matched by action with ICE prosecuting the largest group of white supremacists in history.

President Trump has called for us to come together and we should do that, not automatically doubt one’s commitment or documented lifelong dedication to working to help minorities, namely the black community, without knowing the facts. We shouldn’t use the same hate filled, vile words, and threats these hate groups use at someone who happens to a black Republican, and we certainly should not tell them to “shut up” because they are a supporter of our president.  

A random man from Georgia sent me viciously cruel and crude emails after seeing me on TV. His daughter had an incident at school and was teased, harassed and verbally attacked for because of her race. Thinking I was fueling this hatred because I support President Trump, he showed her some of my commentaries when to his surprise she pointed out the rudeness and attacks that mirrored her own experience. He tracked me down and asked for my forgiveness.

We should not use personal attacks to get our point across or express our frustration online, on the phone, or with our cars, our fists, and our weapons.

I’m blessed to live in the best country on earth, one that allows me to be a free man, and a free thinker. My late grandfather told me, “Paris I hate your party but I love you and love you in your party, they need you in it fighting for us so don’t leave.”

I am still a Republican, proud of this president, honored to have worked in the White House, and am just as proud to be black in America. Hatred, bigotry and violence have no place in American society and I appreciate President Trump for saying that.

Paris Dennard (@PARISDENNARD) is a communications strategist and GOP political commentator who has worked in the George W. Bush White House, the Republican National Committee (RNC), and most recently works on behalf of the nation’s public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  


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