Through the ebb and flow of the state of American politics and American society over the last 60 years, I often wonder about the thinking of all race and social classes in our nation regarding our political system. Just as certain it is that all Whites are not Democrats, (some are Independents, Republicans, Libertarians and other types of political thinkers) the same can be said for Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and others. In wondering I have been careful to question others about the “whats” and “whys” of racial politics because (as we all know) this could lead to being branded with the “R” word. So I like many just look on and wonder. It was a pleasant experience that opened my eyes when reading the “Explanation of problems for Black Conservatives” several weeks ago. It shocked me, just because this gentleman expresses an understanding in love and simple recognition of issues he and other black conservatives obviously face, with challenges no one could possibly understand without being a black conservative. I am thankful for his sharing his heartfelt explanation of his political dilemma.
One thing I promised when I initiated this blog was to share others’ views and perspectives on all things relative to our lives: “If it’s Relative you’ll Find it Here.” You will find this perspective informed, intelligent, and spot on with today’s American political cauldron. It is so illustrative of the position of so many people we live and work with every day yet do not understand, I feel it very important to share. I suggest you read this at least twice, because it is FULL of reasoned perspective that we all should carefully think through.
Thanks for being here and sharing!
Explanation of problems for Black Conservatives
The problem for the black conservative is more his separation from the authority of his racial group than from the actual group. He stands outside a group authority so sharply defined and monolithic that it routinely delivers more than 90 percent of the black vote to whatever Democrat runs for president. The black conservative (who for convenience I will sometimes abbreviate down to “BC”) may console himself with the idea that he is on the side of truth, but even truth is cold comfort against group authority (which very often has no special regard for truth). White supremacy focused white America’s group authority for three centuries before truth could even begin to catch up. Group authority is just as likely to be an expression of collective ignorance as of truth; but it is always, in a given era, more powerful than truth.
This authority is very often based on a strategic explanation of a group’s fate — a “narrative” — that explains why the group is in a given situation and therefore why it is justified in pursuing a certain kind of power. This explanation is all-important because it establishes the group as a collective being with a history — a “history, a present, and a future — a life, as it were, that entitles it to all considerations of sovereignty. In the schools of every nation, children hear the story of their country’s struggle for sovereignty. But for a minority group like American blacks, whom history has left with a deep sense of vulnerability, shame becomes a primary means of reinforcing the group’s story Shame provides the muscle to keep individuals in line with group authority. And shame does this muscling by making conformity to the group explanation the measure of one’s love for the group. Thus nonconformity is a failure of love, a betrayal. And this is the most constant charge against the black conservative — that he does not love his own people — an unpardonable sin that justifies his symbolic annihilation. (Think of these terms Uncle Tom, Aunt Jemima, House Nigger, Rastus, Handkerchief-Head, Tom, Unc, Uncle Ben, Step-n- Fetchit, Field Nigger, etc) Because the capacity to love makes us human, it is precisely the charge that a person is without love that transforms him from the subject to object and causes him to lose his status as individual(s). In other words “I am objectified.” So nonconformity not only points to a failure of love but also to a kind of inhumanity.
All of this is made worse by the fact that black Americans have been a despised minority surrounded by indifference and open hatred. An individual’s failure of group love is a far greater infraction among blacks because it virtually allies that individual with the enemy all around. (Whites and the GOP are ALWAYS viewed as the enemy; most blacks have no clue why this is so) An Uncle Tom (see above list) is someone whose failure to love his own people ( see above definition of GROUP LOVE) makes him an accessory to their oppression. So, group love (in one form or another) is a preoccupation in black life because of the protective function it serves, because we want to use the matter of love as a weapon of shame, and thus as an enforcer of conformity. Love adds the seriousness and risk to nonconformity. (truth be told, blacks ARE NOT as loving a groups as they would have you believe, it is a horse and buggy show put on for the public in photo-ops and for appearances of unity. In this, they are no worse or no better than any other race)
If this gives black America the means to enforce its group authority, (and its explanation of its fate) it also plagues us with a repressive, one-party politics. Why? Because of historic vulnerability and the resulting insistence on conformity around a single strategic explanation of group fate, black America has not yet achieved a two-party politics. Thus black conservatives do not yet comprise a loyal opposition; they are, instead, classic dissenters. (A term most blacks are unfamiliar with preferring Tom and other pejoratives because of their racist appeal). This differentiates him from white conservatives, who work out of a two-party group. In his dissent from a one-party-one-explanation group politics, the BC lives the life of a dissenter, a life too conspicuously gambled on belief, a life openly subversive to his own group and often impractical for himself: a life at odds. Welcome to my world, and pray for me.