Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Black Conservatism is NOT White Conservatism

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

The Atlantic slave trade -- the LARGEST -- long-distance coerced migration in human history is the paradigm, the backdrop for what would become the dissimilar and philosophical differences between what is generally referred to as mainstream-conservatism and that of African or black-conservatism.
 In many ways, just as Burkean conservatism is a response to the explosive chaos following the French Revolution, so, too, black conservatism emerges out of and in response to the far-reaching impact of scientific racism, and the almost unimaginable barbarity of colonialism and slavery.

White supremacy was an essential component of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Jim Crow, and, more than anything, it is black conservatism's long and tempestuous relationship with white-supremacy and bigotry that distinguishes it from other strains of color-blind or mainstream conservatism. As the conservative writer Chidike Okeem emphasized in an interview with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, "When demonstrably immoral structures exist, the black conservative cannot ethically justify attempting to look for the positive aspects of such structures."

Another glaring difference between mainstream conservatism and Black Conservatism is how each one's dissimilar histories informs how each engages the nuances of power and it’s relationship with the larger culture. Due to centuries of blatant injustice and observing white-supremacy's relationship with the authorities many African-Americans have a rational fear and cynicism of court systems and the police. As Forbes writer, and Republican historian Chris Ladd  explains, “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. He continues: “The dilemma was that African Americans’ repression rose not so much from government as from the culture, ignorance and bigotry of their white neighbors.”

Michael Brendan Dougherty, another conservative writer, in an interview with University Bookmam highlighted some of the problems associated with certain aspects of  “colorblind” Conservatism that's become popular in some white-conservative spaces. He writes, “Most conservatives like to think that they have principles that are color-blind: the eternal verities and such. I think this is a kind of self-flattery that excuses historical ignorance on our part. Enslavement stripped Africans of their ethnicities, their languages, and their religion. He continues his commentary: “That means more than any one other group in this country African-Americans are a people created by the history of our nation and its politics: commerce, slavery, the Civil War, emancipation, the civil rights movement. It is a naïveté bordering on psychosis to suggest that black politics should conform to some imagined color-blind set of principles.”

In short, black-conservatism is more than just a disposition; it's peak into how blacks dealt with racism throughout hundreds of years; and black conservatism became a strategic weapon against white supremacy. It was, and continues to be a diverse and global movement whose fingerprints can be found all over the globe. In America, due to its unique racial history; it is extremely race-conscious, and tends to be skeptical of the color-blind arguments pushed by some within the conservative movement. It includes certain mores, racial dispositions and race-based institutions like black businesses, hospitals, HBCUs and The Black Church, all of which were formed in response to slavery and Jim-Crow.

While not limited to just conservation alone, black conservatism doesn't just conserve anything; it conservatives worthwhile things, not immoral things, but things of value. It also encompasses all the varying debates over the exact attempts at conservation of these institutions, and the actual channels by which to educate the next generation. It is committed to teach lessons learned from the past, lessons that may not be fully appreciated by other strains of conservatism, but that are nevertheless real and of value in the African American community -- lessons that might once again be called upon.

While unmistakably black, black conservatism is grounded in principles so applicable that any people, community, or society facing racism and injustice could draw universal parallels from it; it is a philosophical argument birthed in chains, a universal cry and answer for any
society where some people are believed to be animals, where grown men are referred to as "boys," and where one's skin complexion is considered an unredeemable curse. As one theological writer; Brad Minor, put it, "Black Conservativism has it all. It can argue conservative values and economics without the distinctly American and colonial trappings and power structures. It is truly a model for freedom and self actualization without the need for an underclass."

When one is confronted by a racist, dystopian nightmare and lives to tell about it; where does one go to tell that story? Where does one go for intellectual and spiritual respite? Where does one develop a positive identity of self after centuries of being told your skin color is a curse from God, after being called "nigger" and "boy" by the very society you live in?

Black-conservatism answers this question by arguing that while institutions even “race-and-culturally” based ones, and while never perfect they can nevertheless empower people during their darkest of hours.

--- The Black Conservative