That Black conservatives often receive an antagonistic reception from Black liberals is a given reality in today’s political environment. Less often recognized is the divided reception of Black conservatives by their fellow White conservatives.
Interestingly enough, Black liberals see this divide more clearly than those of us on the other side of the political tracks. It is the reason that White Republicans and other conservatives like the Tea Party are perceived as racists and that Black Republicans and conservatives are called Uncle Toms and sell-outs.
When rancher Cliven Bundy made his decision to fight a land grab of property by the federal Bureau of Land Management, land that had been in his family for generation after generation, many conservatives rallied with him.
These Bundy supporters were patriots outraged at the utter gall of the federal BLM agents for what they collectively perceived as an adversarial, overreaching and out-of-control federal government. Social media screamed-out at the atrocities of the feds against an innocent, hard-working, and family devoted rancher.
Unification against the government and protection for Cliven Bundy became the war-cry; calling hearts, minds, as well as unarmed and armed bodies to a Nevada ranch, where a show-down became both the goal and the outcome. Good against evil – the white hats versus the black hats, big government versus the little people.
Meanwhile, away from the ranch in the small town of Ferguson, Missouri, an 18 year-old Black man is shot by white police officer, Darrin Wilson, in what some believe to be ‘cold-blood’ because the teen was unarmed; while others believe the policeman to be justified in shooting Brown.
The law-abiding of Ferguson coalesced with the looters and rioters to protest the shooting in support of the dead unarmed teen; expressing outrage at what they perceived as yet another example of police brutality and an out-of-control abuse of power by police officers as it pertains to Black men.
Dynamics changed in both the Bundy ranch and Michael Brown incidents. Cliven Bundy lost support when he made racially charged comments about poor Black people today and compared them to the days of slavery where ‘they’ might have been better off. Very few ‘patriots’ wanted to be seen in support of a ‘racist’. In addition, facts supported that he did indeed owe the government back grazing fees; fees that Bundy felt should be paid to local government and not to the federal government as the law requires.
A parallel loss of support occurred for Michael Brown after a video surfaced of him allegedly committing strong-armed robbery of a convenience store just prior to his shooting death, as well as the possibility that he physically attacked and threatened the officer who shot him.
Both men committed acts that are considered either unlawful, unethical, or both. Yet, any similarities of support that remains for either man is markedly split down racial lines. Bundy supporters are primarily white and conservative and stand against an overreaching government. Brown supporters are primarily black and liberal and stand against an overreaching police force. Officer Wilson supporters are primarily white and conservative and believe the white officer is being targeted simply because he is white and the victim is black.
It is fairly easy to understand a difference in views between conservatives and liberals, young and old, Democrats and Republicans; even differences in the educated and uneducated. But how does one explain the racial viewpoint differences between White and Black conservatives?
The results of a national survey conducted Aug. 14-17 among 1,000 adults by the Pew Research Center makes this dichotomy of views readily apparent in the diagram below.
How can conservatives who believe in limited government, freedom, and the First Amendment right to assembly for the redress of grievances to the government do an almost collective about-turn when those citizens who use the same constitutional rights are Black?
Why does anger displayed by Blacks against a brutal police force invoke such divergent opinions from Whites when they used the same anger to galvanize themselves to stand with a rancher against the federal government?
Are the constitutional rights of all legal protesters diminished or removed when actions of a few falls outside of the law (rioters and looters)?
Finally – when, why, and how can White American conservatives, who have no history or current experience with systemic racism, diminish the reality that it exists for Black Americans?
The issue of discrimination and racism is not settled in America. Interestingly enough, when the question ‘does racism exist in America,’ is put to any adult in America, Black or White, (even outside of America), the answer is unequivocally ‘yes’. Liberals freely admit it as well as White Democrats and they are called ‘guilt-ridden’. When did personal contrition and the wish to do better become a negative characteristic?
Least easy to understand are the few Black conservatives who also refuse to discuss race. Like their White counterparts, they downplay racism and place blame on the backs of those who experience the racism they hold in derision. They blame the effects of racism solely on lack of effort, ‘plantation mentality’, and on a desire for a welfare state.
These are the Blacks that liberal Blacks call ‘Uncle Toms’, ‘sell-outs’, and ‘Oreos’. These are they who are often called upon by White conservatives to support their disdain for considering racism as a reason in inequality. Here white conservatives can point to the Black conservatives and say, ‘see, I’m not racist, blacks feel the same way as me.’
This is not to say that there are not some Blacks who are in the life place they are in due to their own bad choices and actions, but there are many more that work for and expect a positive outcome yet come up time and again against camouflaged systematic racism. This is also not to say that black men are not killing each other – they are. But there are a myriad of factors contributing to this which must be addressed by the communities in which these murders is occurring.
What is being discussed here is a trend not seen since the days of the KKK, when black lives were diminished with impunity. If the Pew Research poll is correct, White conservatives, at odds with Black conservatives (other than the chosen few), seem to have no desire to discuss and deal with ‘race’. A young black teen in Ferguson, a black man who dies from the effects of being held in a choke hold in New York, an autopsy report that shows that a young, black handcuffed teen did not shoot himself in the back while seated in the backseat of a police car are all evidence that something is wrong within our urban local police departments.
The constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property are not limited to middle and upper income White citizens like the Cliven Bundy’s in America. These are human rights given by the Creator to all, including the Michael Brown’s. A local out-of-control police force is just as deadly to these rights as an out-of-control federal agency like the Bureau of Land Management.
Conservatives must unite around principles. Any overreaching ‘authority’ in America is a threat to all Americans. This continuing polarity around race when race is a factor in right to life for black men is not only a symptom of grave hypocrisy, but assures that the manifestations of racism within our political, social, criminal justice, education, and employment systems will remain and further corrode lives of our children and their children (of all races) for years to come.