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 her 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 morals 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 the newly 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 about 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 moving 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?”
Whites in the Republican Party have prostituted the word conservative to mean racist, state’s rights, segregation, etc. This has been borne out time after time. When you talk about specific issues that are important to conservatives— abortion, welfare, homosexual entitlements, etc.—blacks are overwhelmingly supportive. However, as soon as you put the label conservative with it, the dynamic changes.
Meanings are in people, not in words.
Currently, America and specifically the black community have allowed liberalism and political correctness to run amuck. We must breathe new life into the dormancy of our culture. We must water the DNA that is begging to raise its head once more.
For the first time in the history of Africa, homosexuality is sweeping across the continent, babies are being born outside of marriage, and they are sending their elderly parents to nursing homes.
I am one who makes a living based on my knowledge and understanding of the use of words and language. Before white and black conservatives address the black community on any issues, they first must define their terms of engagement. Bush 43 was called conservative, but spent money like a drunken sailor. Republicans leaders of Congress call themselves fiscally conservative, but constantly support deficit spending.
One needs to define what the word conservative means and why it is relevant to a person’s everyday life. Why black conservatives, especially those with a heart, have not done this is truly a mystery.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC. a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his website: www.raynardjackson.com.
DAV Department of Maryland Commander, Lamarr Couser; Adjutant, Joseph Cuocci; and DAV Auxiliary Commander, Bonnie Cuocci; and Dennis Smith (far right), director of the VA Maryland Health Care System.