African Americans: Neo-Black Conservatism: A culture of subversion.


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( “Stay the course”, “be cautious”, “be patient”,” change will come eventually”, the notion that the rising tide raises all of the boats in the harbor, all of these beliefs share the same fear based, self-loathing DNA. They come from a persuasion of people who are more interested in soothing the serial fears of uninformed whites rather than demand change that is specific to a targeted people.

Many black Conservatives lead the way in this dimwitted intellectual assault against their own people.

At the height of the rebirth of white conservatism (see white fear) of the 80’ then President Ronald Reagan lead an all-out assault against anything that he did not consider to benefit the dominant class. His theory of “trickle down” economics was based on the fallacy that tax entitlements for the top wage earners would benefit society as a whole. To that end he deregulated the savings and loans industry, he dismantled the financial infrastructure that supported government funded mental health care, he severely cut government spending, and most damning was that he turned a blind eye on how massive amounts of drugs were making their way into inner cities.

All of these factors had a particularly damaging effect on the black community because most of his policies hurt the most vulnerable members of society the most. Due to years of institutionalized racism that prevented many blacks from obtaining home loans, admittance into certain trade unions and substandard funding of schools in the community, a higher percentage of black folks occupied that unenviable position.

Black Conservative

When cornered on his methodology and how it would address this reality, President Reagan’s most lasting response seemed to be embodied by the affable and catchy tune sung by jazz singer Bobby McFerrin entitled “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” He was largely silent from a policy stand point, on the ills that effected the nation’s poor and downtrodden.

Take a look at his record: The answer to double digit black unemployment? Don’t worry, be happy. What we now have confirmed as the government sanctioned infusion of drugs into poor communities that were mostly comprised of black and brown people? Don’t worry, be happy. The theory that the erosion of white privilege is actually reverse discrimination? Don’t worry, be happy.

During that time in order to be a “positive” black leader your voice and methodology had to be in line with those in power. It had to be a voice that advocated patience and working within the system (albeit a very broken one). Any other message was considered to be too radical, or too black, to be taken seriously. Reverend Jesse Jackson, hardly a radical, was branded as such during this same time period.

Given this track record of white conservative ambivalence towards anything that seeks to specifically elevate the black man to a position of equality it is very surprising and obscene that many black conservatives seem to fall in line with that same sentiment.

Throughout history, from a multitude of different voices, the battle cry from Nat Turner to Harriet Tubman, from Ida B. Wells to Bayard Rustin, from Marcus Garvey to Malcom X, has simply been this: the freedom to co-exist equally in a shared world by any means necessary.

This very notion has always been translated through the prism of white fear as a power grab, a way to get back at them for all the injustices they’ve committed against us. No organized black movement has ever stated in their manifesto that the main reason of their existence was to repay whites for all of the injustices committed against black folk. Black organizations, for the most part, have always been about bringing attention to social injustices for the sole purpose of changing the conversation.

Conversely, from Rosewood Florida to Black Wall Street in Oklahoma, from the destruction of the Harlem Renaissance to the influx of drugs and the systematic destruction of the black family in the 70’s, (to name a very few), whenever black people have attempted to express themselves as being able of not only sustaining themselves but also excelling at it, white fear has been brutal in its response.

Ironically it is these very ideals of self-reliance that black conservatives, and many moderates, claim as being from their camp. Self-reliance, strong traditional family values and the ability to persevere have been the hallmarks of all black liberation movements. Black conservatives have hijacked these terms and then re-packaged them in a way that makes them seem almost otherworldly to black people outside of their camp. Since when did black people ask to be permanent members of a welfare state?

White fear has driven nearly all of their policies and attitudes. For example Harriet Tubman was considered a terrorist to southern white conservatives . To blacks she was a hero, the ultimate symbol of freedom from tyranny and oppression. Upon Nelson Mandela’s death many white conservatives began their smear campaign by calling him a terrorist and a communist sympathizer. To those millions of black faces that he freed and to all of the perceptions that he changed of what it meant to be forgiving and graceful, the world is forever changed.

By today’s standards the leading voices within black conservatism, in an effort to prove their allegiance to fearful whites, would brand them both as nothing more than criminals.

This is exactly the point that many black conservatives miss in their serial attempt to be accepted by the dominant white body politic. By concentrating on not being disagreeable with their white counterparts they deny the empirical evidence that what ails black folk is very specific, therefore the same medicine that is soothing to white conservatives is not the same medicine that will help black issues.

In the end to admit that some black issues are not necessarily the same as specific white issues is a statement of fact and not one of subversion. A specific ailment has always required a specific medication. Why our solution has to be couched within the sensitivities of a self-appointed overseer and then voiced over by those that seek their approval is not only the antithesis to real progress, it is the true definition of subversion.

Staff Writer; Steven Robinson


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