Conservative activist Sonnie Johnson talks Jay Z, Republican values


Lauren Duquette/The Daily Northwestern

Conservative activist Sonnie Johnson explains her unconventional Republican views as an African-American Tea Party speaker. Johnson was NU College Republicans’ spring speaker.

Emily Chin, Reporter

Conservative activist Sonnie Johnson thinks people should claim, rather than check, their privilege, she said during a talk attended by roughly 40 people Thursday night.

Johnson visited Northwestern as College Republicans’ spring speaker. Johnson speaks at many conservative and Tea Party events and founded Did She Say That, a website where she provides commentary on conservative issues.

“If there’s three things that I know, it’s hip-hop, black people and money,” she said at the beginning of her talk.

Johnson emphasized her African-American background and said she views rapper Jay Z’s ideas as conservative. She said although most African Americans dislike Ronald Reagan, Jay Z argues he is a product of Reaganomics, Reagan’s economic policy.

The reason, she said, is because politics is about money. She said Reagan forced poor people to work for their money, whereas Democrats give poor people “free money” with social welfare programs.

“When you take money out of social welfare programs you make people uncomfortable in their poverty,” she said. “(Democrats) want to make you comfortable in your poverty, then they have you where they want you. You don’t move, you don’t go anywhere, you don’t excel, you don’t get better, you get nothing. You just stay there, they got you. That’s their utopia — when they got you.”

Johnson said conservatives should not be afraid of Democrats because conservatives have what it takes to beat them.

“We have the ideas to beat them,” she said. “We have the competitive nature to beat them. We have the principal values, morals to beat them.”

However, Johnson emphasized that to fix the country’s problems, people need to be able to talk to each other and talk about things that are not usually discussed.

“All around the world fires are being set and I understand the importance of all of this,” she said. “If you cannot talk to your neighbor, does any of that really matter?”

She encouraged people to come up with their own unique opinions, rather than using political buzzwords. She pointed out that most politicians just use the same words over and over, instead of presenting their individual views.

“She pointed out the rhetoric and the talking points that really irritate me as well,” said Glenview resident Lori Diversey, who attended the talk. “They are throwing out a smokescreen.”

Diversey, who is active in the conservative Republican movement in the Chicago area, said she particularly enjoyed hearing Johnson’s explanation of Jay Z’s political views, which made her change the way she viewed the rapper.

Harrison Flagler, president of NU College Republicans, said Johnson was a good speaker because she is an up-and-coming figure and different from any other speaker the group has hosted before.

“One of the biggest things was to try to bring a speaker who is dynamic,” the Weinberg junior told The Daily. “She went off of her notes and started going from her heart.”

This article has been updated to clarify the total number of people who attended the event.

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