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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Black Conservatism is NOT White Conservatism

"Authentic black conservatism has always had the fundamental and explicit goal of opposing white supremacy." - Kareim Oliphant



Black conservatism is not white-conservatism. It is in many ways Burkean, but in addition, it is also very 'African' and the crushing historical realities of that continent have always helped to shape and define Black-Conservatism. It is similar, but different — its uniqueness lies in the fact that just as Burkean conservatism was born in response to the chaos following  the French Revolution, so too Black Conservatism emerges out of and in response to the shock of colonialism, slavery, and white-supremacy. There are two-main categories of Conservatism. One, more intuitive, an inner instinct that there are things, mores, behaviors, institutions etc., worth salvaging. And it’s this impulse to conserve such things, to rescue such things, that puts it in direct conflict with the advocates of radical change, as the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton reminds us: "Conservatism isn’t opposed to change - it’s suspicious of radical change".

All of which brings me to the second important category  — "philosophical-conservatism". One might describe philosophical-conservatism as an intellectual defense for those things an individual, or a community values, considers important. It is (in some sense) a philosophy that’s generally birthed out of traumatism. An ideology that takes form whenever the things we take for granted are suddenly set on fire.

In its relationship with Africa, and African-Americans two things come to mind: Colonialism and Marxism, both brought tremendous changes to Africa, some good, many not so good. In fact, the changes that occurred on the continent were so radical and sweeping that they uprooted traditional customs and institutions. All of Mother Africa was set ablaze by changes that local customs and norms couldn't accommodate. How does a continent like Africa accommodate the Atlantic slave trade "-- the LARGEST -- long-distance coerced migration in human history"?

These are the birth pains, the paradigm for what would become the dissimilar and philosophical differences between a largely white-mainstream-conservatism and African or black-conservatism. As one expert on the roots of Black Conservatism, Kareim Oliphant has noted, "Authentic black conservatism has always had the fundamental and explicit goal of opposing white supremacy."

A very large proportion of white-American-conservatives consist largely of refugee families whose ancestors were escaping Socialist, Fascist or Nazi government oppression; the black experience as Forbes columnist Chris Ladd explains is profoundly different "The black experience is a living reminder that government is not alone as a potential threat to personal liberty. It is possible, as in the Jim Crow South, to build a government so weak that no one’s personal liberties can be protected."

A good example of this friction: The Black Church — while a conservative institution, it is also a radical response to white-supremacy in the Christian Church - a reaction to being told for over 200 years that your race prevents you from communion, from participating in all aspects of church activities. In response to white-supremacist laws, an array of 'black' institutions were built, not to mimic racism, but as means to conserve the best of  black culture and Christianity, and to salvage it from white-supremacist who claimed to either own it or define it. But, neither was it akin to Frank Meyer's fusionist-color-blind-neo-conservatism (a professor, he helped to merge libertarian-concepts into mainstream conservatism). To the contrary, due to slavery, and Jim Crow, black-conservatism unlike white-mainstream-conservatism, is extremely race-conscious. It is race-conscious not because it wanted be -- it had to be race-conscious in order to participate in a violent, white-supremacist society and culture where ignoring race got you lunched from a tree.

Many mainstream-white-conservatives feel that even mentioning or talking about race in relationship to race is racist.  While others feign outrage, while engaging in there own form of race-pandering, i.e., white-identity-politics. Both take exception with the use of "black' to qualify conservatism. Given this, it is important to explain the profound differences between white-identity movements and black-conservatism. First, there are divergent black-identity movements within Black conservatism, like The Nation of Islam that share some similarities with white-identity-movements. These moments  have always been a reaction to white-supremacy and racism; and for the most part they remain an exception, not the rule for those who identify as black-conservatives. 

So, what makes black-conservatism different from other strains of conservatism? Well, unlike mainstream-white-conservatism it is very comfortable engaging issues of  liberty and justice -- in relationship to race. It is centered on principles so broad that any society facing race-based-slavery could learn from it. It is a philosophical argument birthed in chains. And for the most part, it is embodies an inclusive-race-consciousness. A race-consciousness that does not fear diversity. It is a universal outcry, and answer for a society where some people are believed to be animals, where grown men are referred to as "boys," and where one's skin complexation is considered an unredeemable, biblical curse. Out of such barbarity where does one go for intellectual and spiritual respite? Where does one lay one's head to develop a positive identity of self? Black-conservatism answers this question by arguing that while institutions (even race-conscious ones) aren't perfect; they can empower a people during the darkest of hours.

- The Black Conservative