Black and Conservative
by Sean Turner
A New Visions Commentary
paper published September 2003 by The National Center for Public
Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct., N.E., Washington, DC 20002,
202/543-4110, Fax 202-543-5975, E-Mail Project21@nationalcenter.org,
Reprints permitted provided source is credited.
A child of the 70s, I grew up in a typical
two-parent, middle-income household. My father, then a U.S. Navy
man honorably serving his country, carried much of the discipline
he acquired in the military into parenting.
Much of that order and discipline continues
to permeate my thought processes. My mother, then part of the
hustle and bustle of corporate America, was - and still is -
a paragon of hard work and good work ethics. My parents instilled
in me traits that benefit me to this day.
Politics in general was not a recurrent
topic of discussion in our household, at least not in any depth.
However, comments that did arise regarding political and social
events certainly earned our family the so-called "liberal"
label. Although there was no parental inculcation of liberal
doctrine into my brother and myself, I developed and maintained
a liberal philosophy through early adulthood.
Despite this, I was the object of recurrent
disdain and name-calling from the neighborhood kids I grew up
with because I was academically successful. Then, as is often
the case today, if you were a black kid who did well in school,
you were considered to be "acting white." To make matters
worse, I was fairly articulate and did not possess the local
accent common among blacks in the Washington D.C. area in which
we lived. So I was also considered to be "talking white."
Situations such as these are unfortunate,
particularly for young, malleable kids who can and often do succumb
to peer pressure. Because of this pressure, I witnessed a number
of kids I grew up with (who I knew were capable of academic success)
who, because of this pressure, instead, chose to dumb themselves
down to fit in with the "cool" crowd. Little did they
know how much this would adversely affect them for years to come.
Fortunately, I had strong parents who
instilled strength and discipline in me. This allowed me to withstand
years of verbal assaults. Some 20 years later, I've come full
circle to experience similar mistreatment as an American who
is black and conservative. Though my detractors are now adults,
the same infantile contempt for someone who is different exists.
Nevertheless, the times are slowly changing
as an increasing number of young black Americans are departing
from traditional liberal beliefs and voting patterns and embracing
a conservative philosophy. Still, I, and a great many others
like me, are a minority within a minority. We are socially limited
by blacks who are liberal, yet not fully embraced by others who
share the same political beliefs.
Baseless ad hominem attacks on black
conservatives by the increasingly outdated civil rights "leadership"
has put undue pressure on us to keep our conservative beliefs
under wraps for fear of ostracism. This is especially the case
in academia, particularly among the predominately black colleges
It is sad that most black Americans and
others who fight for racial diversity fail to accept, and even
outwardly reject, political and philosophical diversity.
(Sean Turner is a member of
the Project 21 National Advisory Council.Comments may be sent
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author,
and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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