Black Conservatives: Their Destructive Constructs

I’m not shy about debating conservatives on any issue but I find it very difficult to debate with black (political) conservatives, especially those that insist on cooning for their white counterparts with regards to race. Yesterday I got into a discussion on the apology that Ghana issued to black Americans for their role in slavery. Personally, I think it is admirable, economically driven and unnecessary.

Rather than make this into a personal rant toward black (political) conservatives, whom I will refer to as BPC going forward, I’ll focus on the terminology of BPC’s.

Many BPC’s have adopted the “catch phrase” tactics of the right. Their dialogue also rests on creating stark philosophical divides, either/or analogies, and declarations of enlightenment.

Here is one of their tactics to creating a stark philosophical divide. They will first lament that black people suffer from a “victim mentality” and a “welfare mentality” propagated by so-called black leaders. They will then go on to suggest that those of us that do not agree with them are still living on the “plantation”.

Do black Democrats also march to the beat of the same drummer (i.e. white Southern Democrats) who had us going to the back of the bus and working on their plantations? Now they got blacks on another that's more insidious and cunning... a socialistic, secular humanistic, depending on big white man government plantation. (source)

A black Democrat is a mere slave meandering through this political construct without the intellectual capacity to decipher our circumstances. Conversely, a black conservative is such because they have the intellectual capacity to decipher our circumstances. Simply put, non-thinking black people are liberals, thinking black people are conservatives.

This is the same philosophical construct that white conservatives make when they suggest that conservatives are patriotic and liberals are traitors.

The second issue is one of insignificant analogies. The most recent one came in the form of comparing the conditions of black people in America to black people in Africa. It was suggested that we should not complain about our condition here because at least it is not Africa.

I’ve heard too often white bigots state that if we don’t like it we can go back to Africa. BCP’s have claimed it as one of their mantra for the case against reparations, Affirmative Actions and any other social program they think will benefit black people.

In order to fully understand the BPC mindset you have to really read what they say about themselves and how they contrast their elitist intellectualism with blacks on the left.

We (black conservatives) seize opportunities whereas they (civil rights advocates and black nationalists) fear opportunities. We prepare for success but they resent it. We prefer for African Americans (Ed. note: Ugh!) to be winners; they encourage us to be losers….We reject victim status; those leaders encourage a victim status. We are independent thinkers who recognize the humanity of whites; they are slaves who believe whites and white racism to be omnipotent. Finally, we fight for intellectual, cultural, and political freedom; they fear this freedom and fight against it. Sherri Smith

I could easily pull this statement apart and invalidate every line but that is not my purpose of posting it. What this statement highlights is the indifference BPC’s have for black people. Truly, their cause is to support the undercurrent of angst that many white people have for black people.

This is how many white people view it:

STATEMENT A: Black Liberals: We have problems and it’s White people’s fault. Let’s demand they solve them.

Black Conservatives: We have problems and it’s nobody’s fault but our own, so let’s get busy and solve them.

STATEMENT B: You can actually tell a black conservative from a black liberal by listening to the tone of voice.
Black conservative-steady, calm, thoughtful use of words while expressing views.
Black liberal-sreaming, frenetic, ranting, hate filled use of words.(Julien Bond,Al Sharpton,Jesse “the baby maker” Jackson.)

STATEMENT C: In Short, Black conservatives believe that Blacks are NOT inherently inferior and that through Jesus Christ, hard work, family, church and community Black Americans can compete and be successful at whatever they desire. Whereas Black Liberals believe that Blacks are inherently inferior and need government intervention and dependence for survival.

STATEMENT D: But the underlying reason for white bias and for the disproportionate under-achievement of African Americans in school and at the workplace is black culture. The principal impediment to continued progress for African Americans and improved racial relations is no longer discrimination; it is black culture or, at least, the culture that pervades a great deal of the black community. (This statement will be the focal point of part II)

As always, one does has to allow for some sweeping generalizations but you can see very clearly how the lines are drawn and how stark they are. I’m going to stop here. I’ll present part II of this discussion next week as Friday is dedicated to football.

Chime In

1. Where do you see the difference between black liberals and black conservatives?

2. What is your opinion of statement D?

3. How does this current debate between liberal and conservative blacks compare with the debate between Booker T Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois?


15 Responses to Black Conservatives: Their Destructive Constructs

  1. MIB Says:
    IMO, there are actually few Black liberals in the political/ideological sense. Most Af-Ams support the concept of social justice, but mainly within the context of Western cultural norms, i.e.; marriage, homosexuality, etc.. Self-professed Black conservatives by comparison are proponents of gov't to enforce and/or advance the aforementioned cultural norms vis-a-vis the 'rule of law'.

    My explanation for the "... disproportionate
    underachievement..." of Af-Am students is the American cultural depreciation of academia and poor institutional design/ execution. Our schools and educational system is predicated upon (Western) cultural endoctrination as opposed to scholarship or academic achievement. I'm guessing students from low- and moderate-income families -- disproportionally Af-Am -- sense this cultural disaffection and too many times opt to drop out of the system or otherwise underperform.

    There doesn't seem to be much in the way of public debate between Black liberals and conservatives.
    The few liberals, whether by manner or design, appear to have conceded the dais to their conservative counterparts. I believe DuBois and Washington's politics are often misrepresented today for ideological purposes and however nuanced their positions, their points-in-common are lost in the multiple datastreams of information.
  2. James Manning Says:

    I would agree with you on the Washington and Du Bois debate. It is lost in a political discourse that is sees only black/white, right/wrong or good/bad analogies.

    As for the black student underachievement, I think there is a lot to be said about the institutional design but any negative influence caused by cultural indoctination would be minimal at best. That premise creates a pathology where I think none exist.

    thanks for commenting. Welcome to the blog.
  3. Dave Miller Says:
    Greetings James, I will leave the Dubois/Washington discussion to more informed voices and will look forward to the upcoming discussion on culture.

    As for your other questions, here is where I stand.

    Where do I see the difference between black liberals and black conservatives?
    The easy way out is to say that conservatives in general believe in personal responsibility and not gov't handouts, while the liberal side is more focused on what the gov't can do to alleviate societal problems. However the reality is more complex. There is truth and reality in both of those points of view.

    I do not believe we will see consensus, or much progress unless and until leaders from the African American community can come forward as honest brokers and communicators. I offer as examples the response to Bill Cosby when he scolds African Americans for not working hard enough at education and how Colin Powell has been mocked by members of the African American community simply because he holds some conservative political beliefs. As an aside, Powell is a supporter of affirmative action. Both of these people have been dismissed by the tradition Af. Am. leadership. Aren't their views worthy of at least a respectful hearing? Is there nothing valuable in what they are saying?

    On the conservative side, until Af. Am. conservatives accept that at least some of what folks like Jesse Jackson and others have put forward have merit, we will not move ahead. The fact is, the liberal left has some good points. As the US now moves to expecting Europe to pay for their own military security, (a conservative view)it was Jesse Jackson, who in his Presidential bid in the 80's proposed that exact type of stance.

    Perhaps that is what you are talking about James when you state that political discourse sees only black/white, good/bad and no gray.

    As for your culture question, it is certainly provocative. I do not believe that culture is inherently bad/wrong/good/whatever. It just is. I may not like it, or I may love it. But I choose to enter into it, whatever it is. Therefore, my actions, or anyone elses, are a response to the world/culture around me, and as such are a personal responsibility.
  4. woodrow241 Says:
    This is a very interesting topic James and I applaud you for introducing the subject. But Im not so sure you accurately characterize the "BPC" stance. You see conservative and your attempt is to make them a vilan and the enemy of the black man. Simply put, you are wrong and your statements representing their stance is too simplistic and therefore not constructive for honest objective debate. I look forward to talking to you more about this. Good post overall.
  5. James Manning Says:
    actually woodrow, over the past year i've grown to separate conservative blacks for political conservatives. dell gines is conservative - lashawn barber is a political conservative. armstrong williams, rev jesse peterson, ward connerly - they fit it into a package that is very simple to label -

    the overall topic is more complicated but BPC's - i'll keep it simple with them.
  6. woodrow241 Says:
    I can respect that. But why try to marginalize a whole group of black people with valid ideas and an equal love for black people because you dont necessarily agree with the methodology of bolstering the cause. Is there any doubt the Booker T. loved black folk just as much as W.E.B? They just had different ideas on how to promote the race. And I dont think either one had all the right answers.
    And really that is my issue with black liberals. They try to label those with more conservative views as Toms or sellouts or just playing to white people. Its a quick and lazy way of ending a discussion they really dont want to have. That includes Sharpton, M.E. Dyson, Julian Bond and the likes. Im not familiar with the black conservatives that you cite and I will look them up. But I am familiar with Jaun Williams and John McWhorter and Id say that they are fair and rational men.
  7. woodrow241 Says:
    And to be perfectly honest I feel that the sentiments held by some BPC's are parallel to those of growing # of mainstream blacks. They just keep it on the low. Jesse has been a good leader for many years since the death of MLK but its time for a new direction. The issues and concerns for Black Americans have changed in the past 40yrs but his tactics havent. It time for a new direction and a new way of thinking because alot of us are stuck.
  8. James Manning Says:

    I couldn't agree with you more. Juan Williams and Bill Cosby were on point with their criticism but I have some disagreements with their tactics at times.

    It would be intellectually lazy to give no credence to what they say. I don't do that because I think there is something to be said about personal responsibility and redirecting our energies and not wasting time of racial issues.

    However, I do think that there is a sect of the BPC's that dominate the discourse because they cater to the far-right elements of the conservative movement.

    I have issues with Jesse Jackson and how the BPC's make him the spokesman for black people in general.
  9. James Manning Says:
    I think it would be a mistake to marginalize BPC's in general. I wrote a post some time back called Political Alignment Vs. Political Viability

    If you read that you will see that I am for black people having influence in both parties - but pushing an agenda that not only helps all Americans but Af-Am (I like that) in particularly.

    I think you will also find reading my post about changing tactics from the Civil Rights era. Marching Not An Option for Me

    here is a premise: I’m old enough to remember when the wishbone was the premier running play in college football... But times have changed and most college teams run pro-style offenses. Why? Because the game is different today than it was 15 years ago. The players are faster, stronger, bigger and more athletic... But the Civil Rights game has changed and its time that black folks rewrite the playbook...
  10. woodrow241 Says:
    Right on!
  11. Bushwack Says:
    James, Where's the love for whitey????
    What happened to no color lines? Damn I feel so left out of the discussion.

    I'll be crying in my beer tonight..
  12. James Manning Says:

    This is one of those sibling rivalry debates. Feel free to jump in the fray...
  13. mark Says:
    Yo James Right on again not about your bears but about changing the game in socal, civil rights and black intellectualism.

    Ive been trying to lay down the common sense gospel to some of these fools but they wont listen they are stuck in the past. If you mention 1 of the things cripling our progress and possible remidies including your own energies used in whatever way it may take too many people still say your bashing black people.

    Over thier at a different blog we both blog at Im noticing the contrast on both sides .

    The right seems to be saying f#ck you, your on your own,this is the greatest country ever so your just gonna have to bootstrap your way out of it alone. And the left sometimes I cant figure out were those guys are comming time.

    They are not honest about brothas f#cking up, or out of wedlock births, or making our public officials behave responsibly, ect.

    They and all black people seem to suffer from an apathathy, denial, and vision syndrome. They love talking about the man and racism and if you boil thier whole argument down it is. The system,man,goverment is holding us down and proventing us from bieng responsible. Our standards, self Identity and pride have been sorely compromise.

    To sum it up let me say this. I know that life is 3 demenomsional and no ones perfect, I also know and accept that the flesh is weak. But when you have a preacher/intellectual/activist such as Jesse Jackson and he makes babies out of wedlock when the black community is bieng infected with aids at much higher rates than everyone else in the country. Remember Author Ashe, Howard E. Rollins, and Easy E to name only a few black celebrities. Now under those circumstances circumstances to have unprotected sex and endanger your wife. But our preachers and churches dont denounce him for spreading a hideous example of manhood when hundred of thousands of black people are bieng infected with aids have you noticed that until a few years ago they were still claiming that aids was god cursing homosexuals. Instead of protecting black people and advising the parents to preach and talk to thier kids about responsible sexuals practices they blamed gay people. Also why the hell were they picking on gays when gays have been in the church contributing (overwhelmingly through music) on all levels? Are you currently familiar with the aids statistics for black people. Are you familiar with the new life statistic that says that black men in DC have the shortest life span in the country. Some of that can be chalked up to thousands of out of wedlock births as well as women having babies before the woman and man are ready. The black church knew all of this but still decided to blame aids on gay people. They are partially responsible for the high hiv rate amongst black people because they failed to advise us to protect ourselves.


    Riddle me this James could it be that too many of those black officials, preachers, and even everyday woman and men did not and dont want to change thier behavior? They knew the aids statistics james but they refused to seek out truth due partially to intellectually laziness but also to good old fashion hypocrisy. James a lot of these church officials were banging women in the church and the community, without wearing a rubber and they have been to obtuse to modify the church and social message amongst black people to say look way too many black people are having kids out of wedlock its hurting us finacially and socially so we need to use condoms and let the preacher expand thier message and vision to reflect that.

    Id bet we could have keep over 500 000 thousand black people in the country from bieng infected with aids. What do you think.

    That is what Im talking about when I say apathy and denial.
  14. woodrow241 Says:
    I think I read the common theme on this post being that their has to be a change in the way that Black America and its leaders approach our problems. Since the civil rights movement we have seen a vast improvement in some areas and alarming back sliding in others. Our current leadership reflects a misguided collective pysche and something needs to change.
    I think that if we are honest about it all we will that black conservatives are pushing that shift in thinking among black people. Change is never easy and you will always get a fight from the old guard. And who expects Sharpton and the like to say that they have been off in their strategies and tactics for the last 20 years? No one. But I do expect more honest debate. And the main stance by black conservatives is to stop blaming whitey and everyone else and lets stop making excuses and start hold ourselves accountabale for our own shit that we can change outside of systematic racism. There are some non genuine folks on both sides but lets not disregard specific ideas for the sake of wining an arguement.
  15. Diane S. Says:
    For obvious reasons, I feel ill qualified to participate in this debate as it applies particularly to the black community. I am however qualified to look at political conservatism and liberalism, and comment upon that.

    Conservatives generally believe that if you believe in Jesus Christ, work hard, apply yourself, and all that happy horse-shit then you will succeed in our society. The problem with this premise is that this society is predecated upon a certain number of members not succeeding, so that the menial labor jobs can be filled. We could send every person in America to Harvard for an MBA, but someone's still got to wash the dishes when you go out to eat, and that person is going to be poor. Where racism comes into play is the gentle (or at times not so gentle) cooersion of society to particular members to not succeed and be the ones who fullfill the menial roles.

    Liberalism recognizes the reality that not everyone is going to succeed. Some will not succeed because of personal reasons (e.g. physical or mental disability), some will not succeed because of lifestyle (drug abuse), some will not succeed because of racism and some will not succeed simply because they don't have the goods. Liberalism in turn, makes moves to accomodate the needs of those shut out of the American Dream, and to try to make the dream more accessible. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we do not.

    And yeah, those Southern democrats had black people sitting at the back of the bus, but a crisis of conscience led a Southern Democrat to work for the passage of The Civil Rights Act and The Voting Rights Act. I find it more instructive to look which party worked the hardest to stop the renewing of these acts in the past legislative year. It sure wasn't the Southern Democrats.

    I believe, deep in my heart, that over the generations we will overcome racism. I have no illusions that it will be easy, but I do believe that it can be and must be done. When that happens, both political ideologies will have to face the crux of the American dilemma: how to work towards equal empowerment in a world where not everyone is equally gifted.