Tea party rejects NAACP's racism claims, but concerns exist

The Kansas City StarJuly 16, 2010 

Billy Roper is a write-in candidate for governor of Arkansas and an unapologetic white nationalist.

"I don't want non-whites in my country in any form or fashion or any status," he says.

Roper also is a tea party member who says he has been gathering support for his cause by attending tea party rallies.

"We go to these tea parties all over the country," Roper said. "We're looking for the younger, potentially more radical people."

Accusations about racism within the tea party have rumbled for a year, but they suddenly exploded this week with a resolution at the NAACP convention in Kansas City saying the party is attracting people and groups hostile to minorities.

The allegations prompted irate denials from tea party supporters, and even critics make it clear that they're not accusing all tea parties or party members of racism.

Indeed, it's difficult to answer the racism question because the tea party is split into hundreds of shards, and the issue of racism depends somewhat on perceptions.

Still, it's clear that some with racist agendas are trying to make inroads into the party.

In several instances, tea party members with racist backgrounds such as Roper have played a role in party events. At the same time, The Kansas City Star has found, white nationalist groups are encouraging members to attend tea parties. One organization based in St. Louis is sponsoring tea parties of its own.

"There definitely is racism within the tea party movement," said Daryle Lamont Jenkins, an African-American and a spokesman for One People's Project, a Philadelphia-based group that monitors racism. "I've seen it, and it's something they need to deal with now."

The tea party absolutely rejects the racist label, for a number of reasons.

Many deny outright that any incidents of racism have occurred. They point out that there are minorities in the tea party and that tea parties are endorsing minority candidates in some races.

To read the complete article, visit www.kansascity.com.

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