JACKSON: The Heart of the Black Conservative (Yes, We Have One)
Raynard Jackson | 10/2/2013, 3 p.m.
Within the Republican Party, there is what I call this mystery of the Black conservative. Let me explain.
Over the years, I have had this conversation with people from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ollie North, Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour, etc. They would argue that there was this growing trend of “conservatism” within the Black community. I told them all categorically that this was bull.
Blacks have always been conservative or, more accurately, traditionalists. This DNA was embedded in us from the depths of our African ancestry. The spirit of our forefathers has been planted into us to cherish the values that allowed us to withstand the invasions of varied enemy forces from without and many similar forces from within.
The basis of this African culture was strict adherence to tradition, thus the word traditionalists. These traditions recognized the man as the head of the household, that was his birthright. But in exchange for that birthright, he was responsible for the upkeep of that family—the wife, children, and when needed, the extended family.
Children were not given choices, they were given direction. The daughters would sit at their mother’s feet and learn of their ways and the sons would stand with the tribal elders to hear their wisdom in all things.
Children were not told they could decide their own sexuality, their sexuality was determined at birth. Children were not allowed to disrespect their parents without serious consequences. Those who violated the established values and mores were swiftly punished and when necessary, removed from the community. There was no 20 years of litigation and appeals.
In other words, the traditions demanded and expected strict adherence to certain behavior because the elders knew that without rules of conduct, the family would disintegrate and their nation would soon follow.
So, when Africans were exported to the U.S. as slaves, Whites were amazed at the devotion Africans had to family, God, and discipline, despite their new found oppression as slaves. What Whites failed to understand then, as well as now, is that these traditions are still part of our DNA. Admittedly, some in the Black community have allowed this DNA to become dormant, but it is definitely still there.
Part of the reason for this dormancy is psychological. I have attempted to educate White and Black conservatives on this issue, but to no avail. When you go into the Black community and use the word conservative, what Blacks hear is Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. Thurmond and Helms were both U.S. Senators (both deceased). Thurmond was from South Carolina and Helms from North Carolina. They both represented the worst of America and the Republican Party at the height of their power. They both were the embodiment of America’s racist past. In fairness, in his later years as senator, Thurmond was travelling towards a path of redemption that was born out in some of the legislation he sponsored in the senate, including increased funding for Black universities.
So, when Republicans and Black conservatives specifically, go into the Black community and start talking about conservatism, Blacks hear racism. So, the conversation goes like this: “My name is Raynard and I want to talk with you about why I am a Black conservative.” What is heard is: “My name is Raynard and I want to talk with you about why I am a Black racist and a sellout to my community?”