From the Field: Jessi Rapelji

//From the Field: Jessi Rapelji

From the Field: Jessi Rapelji

Minorities Matter: Go Where No one Has Gone Before

Historically, African-American college campuses are not generally where I see conservative groups working. In my area, I’ve run across activists from numerous other political groups, campaigns, and parties, yet there is an astonishing lack of these working with students on these primarily African-American campuses. There are lots of students on these campuses that are passionate about justice, independence, and entrepreneurship, and majority of these students are super excited to learn that Turning Point cares about their voices and wants to help them make an impact.


The left tries to paint conservative ideas as discriminatory, uncaring, and as un-inclusive. We are not that. The first campus I visited while working with TPUSA was Old Dominion University–it’s a very diverse campus with an immense amount of passionate students. I talked with students about their school choice and many were really excited to learn how school choice counteracts the current extremely discriminatory education system. What shocks these students even more,  is when they find out we’re a conservative organization, and we actually care!JR1

At Hampton University, which is historically predominantly African-American, I talked to a young music producer who wanted to be able to pursue his dream of owning a studio. Initially when I approached him, he said he didn’t care much about politics, but once we started talking, he opened up about how the economic state of the nation really bothered him. He didn’t like how government policies created such a division between rich and poor, causing the country to be polarized. We agreed that policies that had incentive for entrepreneurs like him are needed to turn the country around.


On another visit, this one to Norfolk State University with a similar demographic to Hampton University, I approached a group of girls having lunch. They were hesitant to engage with me, but after I started asking them questions and genuinely listened to what they had to say,  we started talking about how big government steals through ridiculous fines, permit requirements, and tax programs. All these students needed was an opportunity to express themselves and a listening ear, and seeing their passion for a change in government was amazing!

These two simple needs of engaging and listening have not regularly been provided by conservatives to minority groups on diverse college campuses. In the past, we’ve failed to engage these students out of an assumption about their political leaning, and if we keep doing that we’ll miss out on a lot of fantastic allies. Many students, whether part of a minority group or not, can come off as uninterested, but I’ve found that everyone is passionate about something. These students want to be engaged in the conversation, many just don’t know how. They have great ideas, awesome dreams, and big hearts for their communities, but we need a stronger presence. I certainly wouldn’t care about politics the way I do unless someone had shown me what an impact I could make. By going to these seldom visited campuses, engaging students, and providing new resources and activism training, Turning Point USA is reaching out to everyone in an awesome and much needed way!

So do conservatives actually care about minorities?

Yes, we care a lot! Yes, we want opportunity for everyone. Yes, we want to hear what issues are important to every student.

By | 2016-04-25T22:27:09+00:00 April 25th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

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