I may be conservative… but I’m still Black

Conservative AND Black

In my political journey from idealistic stalwart Democrat to die-hard conservative, I have paid little price for my convictions, chiefly because I tend to keep my political opinions to myself and don’t really feel like arguing with ill-informed people who will naturally doubt my Black “bonafides” if I publicly admit my conservative position.  The neighborhood Black barbershop is not really the place you want to advertise your political views too openly unless you have the stomach and the patience for being viewed as an Uncle Tom.  Unlike my fellow former ex-PUMA compatriot Afrocity, my little blog doesn’t attract the ire of those seeking to either educate or vilify me.  She is, after all, a double traitor to the Democratic political plantation, being both Black and a Woman.  Surely she must be either dreadfully deluded or deliciously deranged… and those are the nicer things that are said of her.   She says so well what many think of Black conservatives / Republicans:

Ooops.  I’ ve gone and lost my blackness again.  Where did it go? I am a racist too.  Now, according to this brutha, I can no longer call myself Afrocity.  The statement above is self-explanatory when it comes to illustrating how African Americans place restrictions on one another in terms of political freedom.  On the blackness radar, the bias is in favor of black Democrats. Anything else, is an imitation.

Yup… according the prevailing ideology that dominates the media, academia, political discourse, cultural memes, the NAACP, and any and all voices that somewhere somehow feel they have some right to define what Black is, being a conservative or failing to tow the party line is only possible if you hand in your Black card.

The Black Card is immediately declined for those with conservative non-approved thoughts

Unfortunately for them, I am Black whether they like it or not.    One of the true triumphs of the Civil Rights movement is that no one gets to decide for me who I am, where I can go, where I can eat, and where I stop to pee!  I’m certainly not going to allow all the marching, praying, firehose facing, singing, petitioning, crying, and working that my parents and grandparents did be essentially wasted by spitting on their sacrifice by shutting down the very good brain God gave me and allowing myself to have an identity foisted upon me because of the color of my skin and the history of my people.

I remember walking into the house one day as a child chanting loudly (who knows where I heard it), Say it loud!  I’m Black and I’m proud.Strong words and needed words from the Godfather of Soul, James Brown who helped redeem and recapture the God-given beauty of what it meant to be Black.  For those who don’t know, to be called BLACK was largely a pejorative term in those days among Black people.  The worse thing a child could be (especially if she were a girl) was BLACK and have nappy hair, and God only help her if she was “heavyset.”  The word BLACK spewed from snarled Negro lips with a combination of pity and disdain that is hard for some to imagine.  “Oooh that girl is so BLACK! And what passed for a compliment, “She’s pretty to be so BLACK!”

It was an empowering thing to Say it loud! I’m Black and I’m proud! except my mother, in her inimitable way stopped us in our tracks.  She said to us flatly and matter of factly, “You didn’t have anything to do with being Black.  Do something with yourself and then you can be proud of that.”  Well that shut our chanting down and her words have stuck with me until today.

Did my mother have some residual self-hate that she projected onto us?  Was she somehow in denial of the beauty of her own Blackness?  It would be hard to argue that a woman who would one day doff a bouffant wig and the next day leave the house with her neatly cut natural hair with her boys and husband all decked out in dashiki’s she made for

The Race Card: Just because I haven't played it doesn't mean I can't!

them felt any particular disdain for Black beauty and culture.  What was more profound was rather that being Black was for her just a thing.  The history of overcoming oppression and discrimination was something to be celebrated to be sure, but race was never a card to be played as an excuse for slovenly or slothful behavior.

But there is a word of caution here also for my fellow conservatives of the non-ethnic minority variety.    The reason I embrace conservatism is not because I have somehow adopted a color-blind, America is great, racism is a thing of the past lens of our nation.  My ethnicity matters to me a lot and the chief thing that draws me to conservative thought is that I see it as the best way to finally free my people, BLACK people, from the oppressive chains of tyrannical do-gooderism that has been the bane of our existence since we were first forcibly brought to these shores.  I do not agree with race husksters who make their living pedaling grievance and victimhood, but there are indeed real barriers, racial, economic, and cultural to the idea of bootstrapping one’s way into the middle class.

It is not easy nor empowering to live one’s life when the totality of imagery you see of yourself in popular media is negative.  Conservatism and the Republican Party are not served well by being represented over and again by men who’s accents remind us too readily and easily of those same Southern sheriffs who blocked school room doors, and when your economic history includes always having an unemployment rate that is at recession levels, there certainly is not a lot of audience for the idea of cutting taxes for those who seem to already have it made.

The history of Blacks in this country has been the history of struggle, almost perpetually.  And while I know that conservative approaches to economics and cultural issues offer the best solution for what ails, I also know that it feels insulting when I’m told to somehow “forget” my race and view myself only as an American when race has been the defining reality of my people’s collective life since we’ve arrived.  For better or worse (and as a conservative I say for worse)the federal government has been the chief guarantor and benefactor of Black Americans in this country. When private employers offered disparate pay, the federal government did not.  When other places were segregated, the federal government was the first to desegregate.  And when advocates of states’ rights and individualism were standing in school house doors railing against the overreaching power of the federal government, it was those same feds showed up. Conservatives will never tap into the wellspring of natural conservative leaning Black people unless and until that history, and the current reality, is addressed.

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25 Responses to I may be conservative… but I’m still Black

  1. Rose says:

    Well said. It’s interesting, because discrimination takes various forms, and right now there is discrimination against conservatives that transcends race. I will never understand the notion that taking a conservative stance, or registering as a Republican suddenly changes our DNA – in the liberal mind we morph into one, we communicate telepathically, we channel Rush, and become, as neoneocon puts it, that dread thing, a “neocon.”

    We’ve done alot of things wrong, not just here, but mankind in general, The Salem Witch Trials, Slavery, lots of things here, but we work towards improving it. When I was a kid, if a husband hit a wife, it was his right, that wasn’t that long ago, and kids, the same – we’re better now on alot of levels, but we’re intensely polarized.

    I look at my liberal friends, and I marvel at the fact that we, two intelligent educated thoughtful people can look at one set of facts and reach two such completely opposite conclusions. I hope we see some healing, and that it results in an end to you being referred to as an Uncle Tom.

    I’d like to have met your Mom. Sounds pretty cool. nice to meet you too.

  2. afrocity says:

    Wow. Is that why my “black card” application was declined??? LOL.

    • Yours and mine both apparently.

      • I have mine, although it was a joke from one of my friends and I have the feeling that while not with him I might get my butt kicked for saying I’m black…

        OK enough with the jokes, you say you haven’t “adopted a color-blind, America is great, racism is a thing of the past lens of our nation”, that’s fine, I understand, I don’t think racism is gone but I don’t think it has the effect we think it does. Yes racism does still exist but I think we look at it wrong. I think we see racism as a one way thing and not the fact everyone can be racist. Are some white people racist, yes. Are some black people racist, yes. Can anyone be racist, yes. I think the real problem is that we keep trying to segregate people into different races and then tell them that they are not supposed to do that. I know racism isn’t a thing of the past but I don’t think it’s really as big of a problem as people want to make sound like it is now. I embrace the color-blind parts of conservatism because that’s what I believe in, the fact the rest of the world hasn’t caught up is another problem.

        My dad often walks around in a dashiki. To be fair to him they were gifts since he used to do a lot of missionary work in Africa and that’s were he got them. I just thought about that when you brought it up.

  3. Janelle Humbert says:

    The “so black” characterization existed outside the U.S., as well. More than two decades ago, a good friend from Trinidad told me she was viewed as inferior there because her skin was so dark. The first time I met Chandra, I opened my front door and said, “Oh my god, you are absolutely beautiful!” Here was this spectacular vision in a coral sari with a sheaf of glads in her arms for me and I couldn’t remember how to say hello. Even more stunning to me was that in all her 47 years, no other woman had ever told her she was beautiful. I’ve forgotten how to say hello more times than I can remember since my teens and so far, no woman or man of any shade has objected to it.

  4. mainenowandthen says:

    I can only hope that I am able to provide my sons with the obviously successful guidance that your mother gave to you. There are those who believe that “it takes a village to raise a child”, but for me a loving, strong, committed, wise, and generous parent is an irreplaceable and unmatched contributor to the growth and success of any of us. You have been blessed.

    A valuable post, for many reasons.

    • My parents, mother and father both, provided me with what so many in the contemporary Black community lack: a stable, loving, two-parent environment with sold values that have served me well. They weren’t perfect, but then again parents aren’t ever, but they were certainly good people and the values I hold today are the ones they instilled in me.

  5. Janelle Humbert says:

    mainowa, go with your heart and eyes – it always delivers the best rewards.

  6. Chuck says:

    Wonderfully written and thought provoking – especially for us non-ethnic minority conservatives.

    I grew up in the south in the 60’s and saw our nation at its very worst. I truly pray that one day we will all be judged by the content of our character…right or left; black, brown, or white.

    Thanks for your perspective on this.

  7. Janelle Humbert says:

    I don’t give a flip about non-conserative folks whatever color their skin is- EOE is my motto….equal opportunity enslavement doesn’t work for me.

  8. yttik says:

    As painful as all this is, it is a discussion that is so long overdue. This whole country needs to redefine the role of government, to actually figure out how to serve the people in ways that don’t trap them in poverty or victimhood. It’s not a solution that will come from the far right or the far left, there’s a middle ground to be found. The federal government plays an important role in creating safety nets, in leading the way when it comes to protecting vulnerable groups. It’s a slippery slope, we tend to slide down one side or the other instead of finding our footing.

    It’s kind of funny, the Right says government is evil, drown it in the bathtub. Well if it’s that evil, there’s no sense voting for you, dismantle the whole system. And yet the Left is silly too, they also believe government is evil, they’re forever protesting against government atrocities, but then they believe government is the most qualified to take care you.

  9. yochanan ben avrohom says:

    i will take a ‘human card’ anyday

  10. Your blog is very well written. As a fellow Conservative, I must ask “Have you been to a Tea Party?” If you haven’t, I really encourage you to do so. It is a nice time where many people get together without all the baggage they generally carry. It is all about belief and Love of country.

  11. Chuck says:

    I have been to one tea party in DC, and found it quite inspirational. I think that we must be careful though not to let this movement fracture the Republican party. If Tea Partiers split off from the Republican Party for a third “Conservative” party, you can kiss 2010 and 2012 goodbye.

    Three party races always undermine at least one of the two main parties and, in this case, it will be Republicans. Tea Parties need to unite the Republican base if we are going to win power back. I am not sure that this is their plan…

    • I agree totally. But rather than let the Republican party take us over, we must take them over. Third parties are a loser for Conservatives, generally. Sure, we could see an even more Leftist party than the Democrats, but why? They are about as far Left as they can go without announcing the end of Representation altogether.

      However, I can envision a third party more to the Center than the Democrats, like the “Old Democrats” which could fracture their party. I haven’t seen such a movement yet, but it is possible. But right now, I am hopeful that Conservative Democrats will come to our side, and with anger over legislative arrogance this is probable.

  12. Chuck says:

    Right on. Conservatives must be unified in a single party for the next two elections. It is also interesting that you bring up “old Democrats.” I expect that, by today’s definition of conservatism, many JFK Democrats would we staunch Republicans if in office today.

    This is going to be an interesting year by all accounts…

  13. BlackContractor says:

    Not many responders possess the intellect to understand the piece. Interesting. The point isn’t about being Conservative. Many “Black” folks are. The point is being Republican. Many “Black” folks are not. Until “White” people can allow for Conservativism to translated and articulated in terms that non-“Whites” can identify with, then they have no one else but themselves to blame.

    Racism defined reality for non-“Whites”. It is our history and our culture. The task cannot be to convince non-“White” communities to support “White” agendas. But to show how Conservative principles actually help non-“Whites” to achieve goals of self-determination, self-reliance, and community.

    But “White” supremacy has become too ingrained in the message. Learn to leave that crap at home.

  14. themadjewess says:

    I left the DEM party in my late 20’s, they dont like Jews. So, I feel for you.
    I also left because PBS showed a special when I was younger about the deep seeded racism IN the dem party. The KKK, Margaret Sanger. Etc..

    I just feel that if something starts out that way, it will enventually just get worse, only its focus will shift.

    MLK was a Repub, it was unthinkable in the 60’s for a black person to ‘want’ to even be with the dems.
    Bad then, bad now.

    I left the GOP as well 5 years ago, they just stopped being conservatives. Now I am indep.

  15. When I look at President Obama, I don’t see black or pink. I see red.

    The goal of a colorblind society is,in my opinion, a noble one. When 53% of the vote went to President Barack Obama, I thought something good had swept over America. Having lived in the north in the back-of-the-bus years, I didn’t see racism in full bloom in America, but it surely was there. Suffice to say, in the 50’s I could argue racism was as popular as Davy Crockett. Happily, though, in the area of racist label hurling, the times they are a changing. At last. These days, calling somebody a racist has about as much affect as calling a politician a liar. My sense is that, partly thanks to Al Sharpton, the race card has been so overplayed, that like an overused illegal narcotic, it’s lost its effectiveness.

    Call somebody a Communist, though, and all hell still breaks loose. The charge of McCarthyism is still a knee jerk away.

    Until this moment, in polite society, Obama’s been called everything from a liberal, to European Socialist to a progressive right up to a Marxist. But join me. Let’s jump the line together. Friends, he’s a Communist that would make Lenin and Stalin pleased as punch; albeit of the stage one variety. Obama simply hasn’t matured enough in his Communist ideology to start killing the opposition willy nilly. Obama’s only at the stage when he can support the wholesale slaughter of the unborn.

    As part of his goal to destroy free enterprise and American freedoms is Obama’s crusade to financially wreck us and shred the Constitution in the process. In eight more short months, our national debt will be 17 trillion dollars. Only if you use Obama math does the figure not interest you.

    
When I look at Zero, I don’t see black. I see red. If you want to live under a hammer and sickle, fine, but when you try to plant it in my backyard, then we’ve got a problem.

  16. mainenowandthen says:

    Agreed. Well put.

  17. Of course you’re still black. Continue to educate others and yourself. However, don’t stop listening to liberals. There are a lot of liberals of good faith and their concerns and arguments are not all groundless. If you continue to learn, to grow and to check the basic principles on which you base your conservatism, I think in short order you will find yourself very impatient with the Republican Party and mainstream conservatism as well.

    I’m certainly not going to allow all the marching, praying, firehose facing, singing, petitioning, crying, and working that my parents and grandparents did be essentially wasted by spitting on their sacrifice by shutting down the very good brain God gave me and allowing myself to have an identity foisted upon me because of the color of my skin and the history of my people.

    It’s too bad most black folk do not recognize the continuity of the thought there. Freedom of speech, thought, etc. are (supposedly) part of the reason why they did all that marchin’ and singin’ and protestin’ and preachin’ ….

    The word BLACK spewed from snarled Negro lips with a combination of pity and disdain that is hard for some to imagine. “Oooh that girl is so BLACK!“ And what passed for a compliment, “She’s pretty to be so BLACK!”

    My light-skinned mama talks the same way, even though her daddy was black as night. She catches herself sometimes though. Ingrained habits of thought die hard.

    “You didn’t have anything to do with being Black. Do something with yourself and then you can be proud of that.” Well that shut our chanting down and her words have stuck with me until today.

    Hm. Wise words. She’s not denying you the right to some pride, just ensuring that you do something to earn it.


    I do not agree with race husksters who make their living pedaling grievance and victimhood, but there are indeed real barriers, racial, economic, and cultural to the idea of bootstrapping one’s way into the middle class.

    Now we’re getting somewhere, to the heart of, well, just about all the political debate today. The middle “barrier” you mentioned, economic — that’s what it’s all about. Race is the great red herring. It is economics (or class) that is the real divide. Most issues that racemongers claim to be about race, are about class or socioeconomic divides — just the type of thing I study and write about.

    Conservatism and the Republican Party are not served well by being represented over and again by men who’s accents remind us too readily and easily of those same Southern sheriffs …

    Accent isn’t the issue, as long as the attitude is correct.

    there certainly is not a lot of audience for the idea of cutting taxes for those who seem to already have it made.

    The whole national debate on taxes (and political economy altogether) is held with terminology, definitions and assumptions that have been so deviously and diabolically scrambled as to make clear apprehension of the issues next to impossible. Obviously it’s a divide and rule thang. Conservatives are partly right about taxes. So are liberals. I will be writing a lot about that issue.

    I also know that it feels insulting when I’m told to somehow “forget” my race and view myself only as an American when race has been the defining reality of my people’s collective life since we’ve arrived.

    I know, but I save the anti-racism ire for clear and provable instances of racism. I don’t even worry about what people think of me. While on my last job, I had to call on a white trash dude who was standing around in his yard with a bunch of friends. As I left his house, he called me a nigger. I laughed in his face and went on my way.

    However, when it’s a couple of white cops in Chicago, in a cop and firefighter neighborhood where the beat cops are known to be cowboys, and racist, and they’re falsely arresting me while telling me they have the power to fabricate a charge on me — okay, they’re a couple of jackbooted thugs, plus they’re racists. And they had the authority to kill me and they could’ve always said my cell phone was a deadly weapon and they fired in self-defense. Or planted a gun on me, as they’ve been known to do.

    I see that as a double issue. First, it’s a police misconduct issue. It happens to white folks too and it’s just as bad when it does. Second, the sad truth of the matter is that the establishment has been so hellbent on keeping racial tensions inflamed (again, see divide and rule) that I assume but for the deliberate provocation, we might be living in a whole different America and this incident might have never happened.

    For better or worse (and as a conservative I say for worse)the federal government …

    Worse. We left one plantation to get trapped on another one. And as it turns out, integrating is about the only thing the fedgov has ever done right, and that’s because the communist progressive script required States to be villains and the fedgov to be God.

    And when advocates of states’ rights and individualism were standing in school house doors railing against the overreaching power of the federal government, it was those same feds showed up.

    Sadly, this is where blacks (or those from the South, or were raised by Southerners) get a bad case of collective solipsism. Inflating a few Jim Crow States in the south into all fifty States is a neat trick, but the Left has managed to pull it off. Most States were not segregationist. There was no need to punish all fifty States for the sins of a few of them. And in any case, the emergency is long gone. When the fire is put out, the firemen stop spraying and they go back to the firehouse and they let the property owner rebuild. They don’t stay there hosing down the soaking wet ruins forever, muttering “we gotta put out this fire!”

    C.S. Lewis wrote a book about an old demon who was training a junior demon on how to tempt and deceive humans. One of his instructions was (paraphrased), “Make sure that when there is a flood, you have them reaching for the fire hose.” Sounds like the “civil rights” movement today.

  18. Sorry for the ramble — that’s what I get for being up all nite on a caffeine buzz.

    Also, to correct myself, I think that all issues are power issues and race is just one subset of this, by this time a very minor subset.

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