In my research for this post, I re-read an article written by Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker. The article, titled “Liberals just cannot handle a Black conservative” (April 30, 2021), positions Black Republican Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina) as the face of Black conservatism. Parker praised Scott for leveling “strong and smart criticisms of (Joe) Biden’s agenda for the next four years.” However, she also asserted that Scott being referred to as “Uncle Tim” on Twitter, a “tool of white supremacists,” and a “blind servant of the far right” is what racism looks like in America today.
Parker’s brand of “racism” is purportedly being leveled against Scott by other Black people. However, there is nothing racist about their references, resulting from the fact that these other Black people’s blackness similarly situates them with Scott. Moreover, these other Black people are only calling Scott out for being insensitive and unresponsive to the real needs of his Black constituents.
Parker also misses the mark when she writes that liberals cannot handle Black conservatives. Truth is we liberals don’t feel obligated to “handle” Black conservatives. However, unenlightened, White conservatives seemingly welcome this opportunity. If this wasn’t the case, Scott and other Black conservatives would not have allowed Donald Trump and other unenlightened members of the Republican Party to make disparaging comments and institute divisive practices and policies that strained relations between Black and White Americans during the four years Donald Trump occupied the Office of the Presidency.
Everyone knows Scott is currently the only Black conservative Republican in the United States Senate. We know that he is a staunch defender of conservative values who challenges what Parker calls the “current orthodoxy of systemic racism that pegs Whites as oppressors.” While Senator Scott should be commended for overcoming adversity in his life, the fact still remains that he and other Black conservatives are failing America on a number of fronts because they willingly allow themselves to be handled by unenlightened, White conservatives.
GIVE WHITES LICENSE TO BELIEVE CRITICAL RACE THEORY IS BEING TAUGHT IN PUBLIC K-12 SCHOOLS
Most rationally minded people know Critical Race Theory is not being taught in public primary and secondary schools. It is being taught on college campuses, in law schools to be exact. But what you may not know is the letters C-R-T were first used as a racist dog whistle in Southlake, Texas in 2019, when White conservative activists flooded local school board meetings to condition and elicit parental outrage about the implementation of a developed diversity, equity and inclusion plan within the Carroll Public School District. After this conditioned and elicited outrage about CRT proved to be successful, these White conservative activists proceeded to leverage support for and seat at least two of their conservative allies on the school board.
A few days later, Black conservative Allen West suggested to a packed audience that this model could be used in suburban communities all across America to win local, state and national elections. West’s prediction proved to be correct. In November 2021, the big lie about CRT being taught in public K-12 schools was partially responsible for Republican Glenn Youngkin winning the Virginia gubernatorial election. You can rest assured that the CRT Dog Whistle will be blown again in voting districts all across America during the 2022 midterm elections.
But why are White parents so susceptible to believing the CRT lie? Probably because they received license to do so by Black conservatives. On the topic of systemic racism in America, Black conservative opinion matters. And many Black conservatives are seemingly telling Whites that they should not view themselves as unredeemable oppressors. That’s a noble thing to say; however, it drastically improves White conservative politicians’ ability to enflame White fears and resentments about Black and other non-White Americans. The main thing that these White conservative politicians are telling the White electorate is Black and other non-White Americans are taking things from them. In reality, though, nothing is being taken from Whites; the country is just going through the arduous process of righting past wrongs.
Most Black Americans know that our schools do a piss poor job when it comes to teaching Black history. Yes, history teachers will talk about the Transatlantic Slave Trade and slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s, but students rarely hear about the enslaved Blacks who fought to be free. The Black Freedom Fight seems to always be presented in a way that has enslaved and emancipated Blacks working in tandem with benevolent Whites. Additionally, students never hear about the Black kings and queens that inhabited our Black ancestors’ African homeland prior to 1619. I believe this White disdain for Black history is intentional because a critical review and analysis of this history will show that the descendants of enslaved Blacks, more than any other racial/ethnic group in America, are entitled to full reparations for their ancestors’ uncompensated labor.
Black conservatives fail America when they ignore these facts, and allow racially sensitive content (i.e., books written by Toni Morrison or Ta-Nehishi Coates) to be censored or removed from our schools because it makes White public school children and adolescents feel uncomfortable.
SAY NOTHING WHEN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OPENLY ALLOWS WHITE SUPREMACISTS INTO THEIR RANKS.
While all of the citizens that assembled in front at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 were not insurrectionists, the fact still remains that they were present with one objective in mind: Stop the Steal. We had just completed a routine presidential election, during a global pandemic mind you, and the states had submitted their vote tallies for federal certification. Donald Trump, the former president, told his supporters that the election had been rife with fraud. But when asked to provide supporting evidence, Donald Trump’s lawyers were unable to do so.
With all legal recourse exhausted, Donald Trump and his allies seemingly used outlets like Fox News, Breitbart, Twitter and Facebook to make coded appeals to White supremacists and militia groups. When this occurred, I thought I would hear more of a public outcry from Black conservatives. Heck, I thought we would see more Black conservative defections too. However, these outcries and defections never came, seemingly resulting from Black conservatives being lulled into complacency and complicity by unenlightened White members of the Republican Party.
Any individual or group that welcomes White supremacists into their ranks is not a student of U. S. history. And if you’re a Black conservative who sits idly by as these White supremacists invade the Republican Party, reshaping its identity, it is clear you forgot that the Republican Party used to be the standard bearer for equal rights and protections for all.
When I think about the Republican Party from bygone eras, I think about the Republican abolitionists that worked collaboratively with enslaved Black Americans for their freedom. When I think about the Republican Party from bygone eras, I think of Republican Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation, which granted freedom to enslaved Black Americans. But this contemporary version of the Republican Party cares very little about equal rights and protections for all. These days, its primary focus is to make rich White people richer, by any means necessary.
Black conservatives fail America when they have no problem with Republican leaders embracing support from White supremacists identifying as conservative Republicans. But this selling of their souls seemingly doesn’t come free. I believe many of them are being compensated monetarily by conservative-controlled dark money organizations to participate in activities that undermine gains made during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that these conservative-controlled dark money organizations were paying Black people to vote Republican in local, state and national elections. By failing to speak out against the Republican Party’s full embrace of White supremacists, Black conservatives allow themselves to be used for short-term gains that only pay dividends for themselves and not for members of the Black American Diaspora.
SHUN THEIR OBLIGATION TO AMPLIFY BLACK VOICES AND BLACK CAUSES
The struggle for Black uplift did not end with the Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954 or the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We Blacks still find ourselves watching helplessly when our unarmed Black brothers and sisters are being gunned down in the streets by rogue police officers, or explaining to our White neighbors why Black lives matter. We also find ourselves battling the Republican Party’s legislative efforts to suppress our votes in mostly Republican-controlled states. In the midst of all this corruption, Black conservatives are seemingly sleeping at the wheel, not countering Republican big lies with inconvenient truths.
Our Black conservative brothers and sisters have forgotten what the struggle for Black uplift is all about. The struggle is all about creating a more perfect union, one in which everyone has an equal chance at achieving the American Dream. Black conservatives believe this day has already arrived. But when the Federal Reserve reports that in 2019 white households owned 85.5% of wealth, while Black households owned 4.2%, you begin to understand how White racism and discrimination has given White people a unique set of advantages, privileges even.
Achieving the American Dream is more possible now than ever before. But when Black people choose to adopt conservative ideology, they seemingly forget to view this conservative ideology through the prism of the Black struggle for equal rights and protections. This struggle only became less of a struggle because so many of our Black ancestors collaboratively used their time, talent, treasure and testimony to demand change within our communities, schools and corporations. Because of their efforts, our communities, schools and corporations are becoming more diversified.
But the same cannot be said about the Republican Party, or the conservative movement as a whole. Black people account for less than 10 percent of their voters, and Black people are rarely seen or heard from in conservative-controlled rooms where consequential decisions are being made. It’s almost as if White conservatives are trying to keep Black people out of these rooms so they can dilute Black influence at the polls without receiving any push back from enlightened, Black conservatives. But when you have unenlightened, Black conservatives like Allen West endorsing and participating in this dilution, you realize some Black conservatives are willing to say and do what unenlightened, White conservatives want them to say and do if these same unenlightened, White conservatives are willing to compensate them nicely for their efforts.