Is Political Conservatism and Blackness At Odds?

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In the wake of Kanye’s recent twitter rant, in between the incoherent utterances of ignorance, an important discussion may have been brought forward. Does being black and politically conservative equal racist or self hating? Figures like Herman Cain, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice challenge black conventional thought concerning political leanings and it my be time we examine those conventions.

In the last presidential election an overwhelming majority of black voters chose the Democratic candidate (Hillary Clinton) 89% to 11%. This makes African Americans the most loyal voting block in the American political system, which is truly unique. Often the history behind this actuality is forgotten, in the 1960s during the heat the civil rights era John F Kennedy made a concerted effort to reach out to civil rights leaders. Specifically  Kennedy’s call to Coretta Scott King while MLK was in jail. Concurrently the Republican Party continued to carry out the Southern Strategy, an initiative focused on recruiting southern whites by stoking racial sentiments. These variables mixed to give us the general political leanings today in America. Republicans went on in successive elections to consolidate and cement their white southern base, often using the same racial dog whistles.

With that context in mind the conversation around black conservatives is often loaded, people usually question how you can support an agenda that does not in practice support our community? However conservatism in the black community is not a foreign concept, many members of the community are socially conservative in many areas from abortion to gay rights to immigration. When we examine religion (often a good indicator of conservatism) Black Americans are also the most religious demographic with over 80% believing strongly in God. So this brings us back to the topic at hand is it truly wrong to be a person of color and conservative?

The simple answer is no, people of color despite a shared oppression are not a monolith and treating them as such can in fact be problematic. However if one’s conservatism is rooted in the maligning of people and furthering toxic racial themes then that ideology is invalid. This frankly is the case for many black conservatives when issues concerning oppressed communities are brought up, often their discourse is vaguely racist and insensitive. If someone truly believes in a limited government, low taxes and a strong military all power to you; these perspectives however can not be premised on the backs of historically disenfranchised peoples.

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