The Outlook

This isn't for the sensitive

Conservatism and Black folk

The concept of a black republican is not still the anomoly it has been, but it’s still something many other black people have trouble understanding.

For the record, I do not consider myself a Republican. I am, though, perhaps a little more conservative than I may have thought previous to my current job. In fact, most black people are conservative. Our community is a conservative one. I think that if we, as a community, made it a priority to be educated on the issues and vote for candidates based more on their stances on issues than anything else, we’d find more of us voting for Republicans than we thought.

But let me say now, this is in no way going to be a post meant to encourage people to vote pro-Republicans. I don’t think the GOP deserves the minority vote, at all. I’m tempted to say neither does the Democrat party, but I’ll give them credit for at least looking like they care.

I don’t read very many black conservative blogs. I’ve tried to, I want to know the opinions and sides on every issue, but so many of them become fodder for “I’m not like the rest of the Negroes” that it becomes stomach-churning. I just want the opinion, preferably with something to back it up, and nothing else.

In all that, there seems to be the implication that a “true” black Republican is not like other black people. The fact of the matter is, there’s no deep difference between a black person who identifies with the Republican party’s ideology and a black person who identifies with the Democrat one, just like there’s no such difference between the two types in white America.

I think many black Republicans would argue with me and say they are attacked, and they are trying to defend themselves. I’d agree with that on some levels — but let’s consider a few things:
1) After Reconstruction, when black people were voted into Congress (and before Jim Crow laws all but slid that to a halt, in the South and eventually in the North) they were all Republicans. Why? Republican was the party of Lincoln — it was the party that had freed the slaves.
2) The shift of the black vote from Republican to Democrat has it’s roots in the move of the Dixiecrat party. In the 1930s, the Dems ideology shifted to one in support of many things they are known for today, such as civil rights and economic intervention. It was Harry Truman’s support to, essentially, end racial segregation that ran many Southern Democrats out of the party. These Dixiecrats would ultimately become Republicans.

It’s hard to imagine a person supporting a party that at one point was adamant about keeping their community down. It would be like a person who was a victim of a heinous crime, advocating for prisoner’s rights. Not too far-fetched, but definitely hard to understand. I think a lot of black Republicans struggle with explaining their stance in the face of what I like to call “black guilt.”

At last year’s Essence Festival, I recall a friend of mine recounting how he was all but harrassed to sign a petition in support of Barack Obama. At that time, he had not decided which potential Democrat nominee, Clinton or Obama, he wanted to support. He recalled the assertion many made that he wasn’t “black enough” because he didn’t immediately jump on the bandwagon. As black people we have a very “groupthink” way of going through life, and it’s not always good.

I’d like to see us as a community start to consider that what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander and really start to get educated on the issues. But more importantly, we should empower each other to do that even if it means being different and not ridiculing each other. At the same time, I’d like to see black conservatives make a better effort to talk about why they hold their views. Not that this is about changing anyone’s ideologies, but you sure can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. I get the feeling, from far too many black Republicans, that they look down their noses at more liberal black folks. What’s that about??

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May 13, 2009 - Posted by | Politics

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for at least discussing your conservative perspective. As a Black man who has voted Republican in the past, more perspective is that conservatives, and especially official Republicans are lost. Black conservatives are living in an era when they, like other conservatives, are irrelevant. The conservative agenda and talking points have grown so narrow that they have ceased offering anything constructive to our national good. As has been well-argued, Republicans have become the party of “No”–at least for now.

    Comment by tdadpete | October 3, 2009


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