Saturday, April 6, 2019

Black Conservatism is NOT White Conservatism. It’s similar, but very different.

"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 philosophical differences between what is referred to as mainstream-conservatism and that of African or black-conservatism.

((Black-Conservative360)) - The Atlantic slave trade “the LARGEST long-distance coerced migration in humanhistory" is the backdrop for what would become the dissimilar philosophical differences between what is referred to today as mainstream-conservatism and that of African or black-conservatism.

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 slave trade, of 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 African 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."

One glaring difference between “mainstream” conservatism and black-conservatism is how it’s dissimilar history with racism informs how  black-conservatism engages the nuances of state power and its relationship with the larger culture. 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: “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 explores this a little further in an interview he gave some years ago with “University Bookman” a conservative book-review journal. In it he explains some of the problems with aspects of “colorblind” conservative arguments. 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. 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 also the network of black- institutions (like the black church) that help to capture this dissimilar history; that tell the story of how  black-institutions became a powerful, strategic weapon against racism, and while unmistakably black, it is grounded in principles so profound and applicable that any society facing racism or injustice could draw universal parallels from it.

It is both a disposition and a philosophical argument birthed in chains! It is a universal cry, and answers for any society where some people are believed to be animals, and where one's skin complexion is considered an unredeemable curse. As one theological writer; Brad Mason (@AlsoACarpenter), put it, "Black Conservatism 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.”

When one encounters a demonic and racist, dystopian nightmare and lives to tell about it; where does one go to tell this 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 are never perfect; they can nevertheless empower people during their darkest of hours.

NOTE: This article primarily focuses on American black conservatism.