In route to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week, I took a cab from the airport to my hotel. Simon, my driver, had a thick, African accent, so I knew he must be an immigrant. We exchanged pleasantries, and then he hit me right between the eyes with a pointed question.
"You are attending the Republican Convention," he asked. When I answered, "Yes, I am," he inquired, "What do you think is the percentage of black Republicans attending the convention who are entrepreneurs?"
I was actually afraid to answer the question, because usually when I encounter blacks who ask about my party affiliation, they are gearing up to lower the boom on me for being a sell-out, an “Uncle Tom,” or worse. But I answered his question with the question, "What do you think the percentage is?" To which he responded, "I think it's 75 percent."
I was shocked to discover that he was actually feeling me out to see if I was a conservative like himself.
It was a seminal moment in our meeting, and for the 30-minute cab ride to the hotel, we talked politics and the black experience in America. I have to tell you it was refreshing. Instead of having to argue and fight for every point justifying a politically Christian-conservative worldview, I found myself nodding in agreement and saying, "Amen" after every point he made about how its founding in Judeo-Christian ethic makes America the great nation it is. He talked about how entitlement programs were hamstringing the black community and that they didn't line up with biblical Scripture.
You see, Simon is from Ghana. He has been in America nearly 20 years and has tasted the fruit of success, attaining the American dream. He is an entrepreneur, a husband, and a father. He successfully raised four children, the oldest two now college graduates. He even bragged about how one of his children worked abroad in Europe and the other was a CPA.
Simon is also a man of God who raised his children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. He told me he raised his daughters to not only be successful, but to also become great wives to godly men. Likewise, he taught his sons to be successful and godly men for their future wives.
It really touched my heart to hear him speak on timely topics of the day, including the GOP Convention. He understood the political gamesmanship taking place and even expressed his displeasure in Sen. Ted Cruz not endorsing Donald Trump.
Simon shuttled me around Cleveland the entire week. One day, on the way back to the hotel, we stopped to get a burger. While waiting for our food, he got into a political discussion with two other patrons in the restaurant who were watching the GOP Convention on TV. It was a sight to see Simon in discourse with a black gentleman named Mohammed, a Muslim immigrant from Sudan, and Mohammed's friend, a white gentleman obviously from the states.
Mohammed assumed Simon was a Democrat, so the two men were shocked when Simon corrected him. They then asked me if I was a Republican, and when I confirmed that I am, their eyes lit up again. Two black guys and a white guy, all Republicans, ganging up on the lone Democrat from Sudan -- I wish I could have videoed the conversation; popular culture says such an event could never happen.
Shortly after Simon told the Sudanese immigrant, "You are a Republican; you just don’t know it yet," we all shook hands and parted ways. When Simon dropped me off at the hotel, I asked him why he said that. He replied, "He's from Africa. Africans are entrepreneurs. You cannot be an entrepreneur without being Republican. And you cannot be an entrepreneur without being a Christian" … or something to that effect.
I told Simon that I planned to write an article about him and talk about him on my show because he is an example of the American ideal, what this nation was founded for and what it represents.
So, Simon, this article is dedicated to you, my new Christian-conservative-Republican friend. You are an inspiration to me, and you are an icon of what it truly means to be an American.