In Lee’s Get on the Bus, there is a scene where we learn that both Wendell and Kyle support the Republican Party. Wendell goes on a tirade about “niggas like Jackson” to make the point that Black leaders seem to be always asking for some form of patronage, leading him to say, “They all say the same thing, ‘Hire us. Feed us. Affirmative Action’. Like we need America to keep a nipple in our mouth” (1:05:58). Kyle reiterates this point in his defense. He says, “Democrats wanna keep us powerless, docile, begging for handouts. Running around having babies without even a minute plan for their future” (1:06:17). So why did Wendell get thrown off the bus, but Kyle didn’t?
First of all, there are slight, but important, differences to their arguments. They both support the Republican Party due to their position against government aid, but they place the blame on different groups. Wendell directly accuses current Black leaders of bringing about a ‘welfare mentality’ within the Black community, whereas Kyle places the blame on the Democratic Party. This is important because Wendell’s argument implies that Black people are the cause of their own problems, but Kyle’s argument implies that there is a racist agenda within the Democratic Party.
As the conversation progresses, a gulf between both men’s political beliefs starts to become apparent. Wendell explicitly states that, “It’s the 1990’s. Racism is a figment of the Black man’s imagination” (1:07:20). The bus riders do not take this well. This forces Kyle to differentiate his views from Wendell’s, saying, “At least I have sense enough to know that racism and homophobia exists brother” (1:07:54). All of a sudden Wendell is on his own, and his mouth gets him thrown off the bus.
The fact of the matter is, regardless of what party you support, you’re not going to find many Black people supporting you if you openly reject the existence of racism. Most, if not all, Black people have faced some form of racism multiple times in their life. It is hard to ignore the facts when they remain a constant part of Black life. This is why Kyle did not get thrown off the bus. He may be a Republican, but he is also a Black man.