The heart of the black conservative

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:

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.

Trayvon inspired Obama to act like the first black president

In 2004 at the Democratic National Committee’s presidential convention, I was mesmerized by Barack Obama, a little known state senator from Illinois. He electrified the convention and created a global buzz among those who watched on TV. In 2006, I was proud to see him elected to the U.S. Senate from Illinois.


Raynard Jackson, NNPA Columnist

In 2008, I was even more proud to see a black man elected to be president of the United States. Americans throughout the U.S. celebrated this historic accomplishment. This was one of America’s best moments.

In 2013, I am most proud that the first black president finally seemed to find his voice before the American people on an issue that was of particular concern to the black community. After more than four years in the White House, President Obama finally spoke to America and directly to black America simultaneously.

For the first time, Obama did not lecture or speak down to blacks. He spoke as one of us. He spoke from his heart to our hearts, to my heart.

He did not give a speech, for that would have been cynical and would have fallen flat. He simply exposed his soul to us; but he also allowed us to penetrate the veil that he had erected that prevented him from connecting with his own people. For the first time, he actually showed an emotional connection to the plight of blacks in this country.

Lord knows, in my columns, I have been one of his biggest critics of how he interacts with the black community. I would be nothing short of a hypocrite not to praise him for speaking directly to the American people in the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial, especially in a way that connected to black Americans.

He didn’t take a position one way or the other on the jury’s verdict; that wasn’t the important thing at that moment. He spoke as president of all of America, but at the same time spoke directly to the black community without separating the country. Non-blacks of goodwill for certain will understand my statement.

This is the Obama I have been seeking for almost five years. It was quite obvious that Obama was touched by the emotions that were raging from within the black community since the tragic night of Trayvon Martin’s death.

Policy considerations aside, blacks have always wanted Obama to show us that he understood the plight of being black in America. We have wanted him to connect to our issues like he showed the residents of Newtown, Connecticut after the massacre last year.

Sometimes one can be so beat up that you just want someone to say, “I feel your pain. I understand what you are going through,” even if you can’t make the pain go away. Nothing Obama said will bring Trayvon back. However for once, America saw its first black president in public.

Some of my readers will not understand anything I am writing; it is not you to whom I am writing. Those with similar backgrounds and experiences as mine will understand intrinsically what I am saying.

I don’t expect some to understand why I behave the way I do when a policeman pulls me over or approaches me while I am parked.

Policemen will ask me why I am putting both of my hands out of the driver’s window like I did two weeks ago. I tell them because I don’t want them to have any allusions about my being armed and to make sure they know that I am no threat to them. They don’t seem to understand that before I reach into my glove compartment that I tell them that I am about to reach into the glove box to retrieve my car information that they are requesting— title, proof of insurance, etc.

In my professional life, I constantly have to prove my abilities, even though my records of accomplishments are part of the public domain, as any Google search would reveal. In meetings, I tell the attendees that I will call a certain person and get them to do a certain thing. I report back to the group only to be asked, “Wow, so you really do know that person?” They are actually amazed that I have personal relations with some of the most powerful people in the world; they have a hard time reconciling my background (being a black kid from the hood of St. Louis) with knowing certain types of people.

Yes, America has come a long way since the days of Jim Crow and segregation; but please don’t criticize our president or the black community for wanting, every now and then, for the leaders of our country— regardless of color— to be touched with the feelings of our struggles. Sometimes we just want to be told that together we will all be OK.

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:

Supreme Court made right call on voting and affirmative action

Last week liberal blacks and whites went crazy after the Supreme Court issued its ruling on affirmative action and the voting rights cases. Well, I happen to agree with the court in both decisions. Now, before you start calling me a “sell-out, Uncle Tom,” or Republican,” turn off your emotions and listen to reason.


Raynard Jackson, NNPA Columnist

In the black community, the mere mention of revisiting any civil rights program automatically elicits cries of “Jim Crow,” “racism,” or “turning back the clock.”

Despite protestations to the contrary, in a 7-1 decision, the Supreme Court actually upheld the use of affirmative action. They simply stated that institutions must prove that they have exhausted all other remedies before they resort to using race in their admission decisions. In light of the progress we have made in this country on the issue of race, I find the court’s decision very reasonable.

What I did find troubling about this case brought by white high school student, Abigail Fisher, was her assertion of “white privilege.” She is from Sugar Land, Texas, one of the wealthiest communities in the state. She sued the University of Texas at Austin after she was denied admission to the school in 2008. According to her, “it was because she was white and that she was being treated differently than some less-qualified minority students who were accepted.”

Of course, she has no way of knowing that since the admissions process is confidential. However, she just assumes that because she is white and from Sugar Land, there is no way that a minority could be more qualified than she for admission to the school. In written submissions to the court, the school stated that even without the issue of affirmative action, Fisher did not meet the school’s standards for admission. She is “white privilege” personified.

Civil rights leaders totally lost their minds over the Voting Rights Act case, even though

the court upheld the status quo. The court simply said that Congress needed to redo the formula that determines which states should remain under the supervision of the Department of Justice.

Let me explain it this way. In the 1960s and 70s, polyester suits were in vogue. What the court said was, it’s the 21st century, so we think you might need to change the fabric used in your suits. You can still have whatever suit you want, you simply need to update the material you are using to one that is more appropriate to the times. Again, I find this very reasonable.

So, to civil rights icons like John Lewis and Julian Bond, c-h-i-l-l o-u-t! If you listen to them and the liberal media, you would have thought the Supreme Court put blacks back in chains.

We must approach these decisions strategically, not emotionally. In a weird kind of way, I am very optimistic that Republicans will step up and play a constructive role in facilitating a thoughtful discussion of these two important court decisions.

The key players on these two issues will be, House Majority Whip Eric Cantor and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner.

Cantor represents the 10th district of Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives. He instinctively gets and understands the issue of race better than most Republicans. He has quite an interesting story to tell in this regard and I hope one day soon he will allow me to share it with the public.

Sensenbrenner represents Wisconsin’s 5th congressional district and is former chairman of the House’s Judiciary Committee. He has been a stalwart on issues revolving around civil rights, specifically the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006.

If Speaker John Boehner taps Cantor and Sensenbrenner to play key roles in helping the Republican Party understand some of these issues involving race, I am fairly confident that they will lead the party down a constructive path that will show the black community that Republicans understand these two issues that are of great interest to the black community. There is a lot of work to be done, but Cantor and Sensenbrenner’s unique understanding on these issues can be a great asset if the party’s leaders take advantage of it.

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:

What it means to be an American

With the deepening polarization of our country, I have been reflecting on the cause of this polarization.

One of the major issues confronting the United States is what it means to be an American. This may sound a bit trite, but this is at the heart of a lot of the intractable problems we are facing as a country. Everyone wants to carve out their own identity, with individuality being the motivating force behind the move, not the betterment of America.


Raynard Jackson, NNPA Columnist

There was a time when we were simply all Americans. Then we became Irish-Americans, Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, Homosexual-Americans, Illegal-Americans, etc.

There used to be the Chicago Bulls, the Jackson 5, and the Supremes. Then they became Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, and Diana Ross and the Supremes.

We used to rally around the principle of being an American. We “Pledged Allegiance,” which is now optional, we sang the national anthem at public events (now controversial), we prayed at graduations (mostly illegal and very controversial).

Blacks, Jews, and Mexicans celebrated their heritage, but still considered themselves Americans first. Now that has all changed. You have people in the country, who cannot speak English and have no interest in learning. They expect America to accommodate their unwillingness to learn our language.

Now you have illegals in the country demanding rights; homosexuals wanting to become a protected class based on their sexual preference, and you have the county of Los Angeles required to print ballots in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Japanese and Korean. These ballots are mandated by federal law.

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 was originally enacted to prohibit state and local governments from denying or abridging the right to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” a right guaranteed by the 15th Amendment. It applied to political jurisdictions with a history of denying such rights to black Americans and was specifically aimed at removing barriers to voter registration. It was intended to be a temporary remedy. However in 1975, Congress greatly expanded the Voting Rights Act’s original intent by inserting special protections for “language minorities.” The so-called language minorities singled out for protection under Section 203 of the Act were: American Indians, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives, and citizens of Spanish Heritage. For the first time in our history, states and counties with substantial populations of these newly-protected protected language minorities were required to provide ballot and election materials in languages other than English.

Our shared values not our uniqueness is what makes us Americans. The English language should be the language we can rally around and the language that creates a common bond.

When you focus on the individual, the group loses its identity. We must get back to what it means to be an American. We must speak one language— our national language— and not have our motives questioned for insisting on that basic requirement. No other country abandons its language to accommodate “language minorities” who don’t speak its national language.

One of the beauties of America is that we are free to disagree. Recently, however, the Language Police for various groups are trying to infringe on the rights of others with whom they disagree. Your disagreeing with me on affirmative action, doesn’t make you a racist; your disagreeing with me on abortion, doesn’t make you immoral; your disagreeing with me on war doesn’t make you a warmonger. Rather, it simply means we have a difference of opinion. That is what being an American is all about— respecting our differences, but yet the acknowledging of our commonality.

Homosexuals have called me homophobic because I don’t agree with their lifestyle choices. Those in the country illegally think that I don’t have a heart because I don’t support amnesty. Many liberal blacks think I am a sellout because I am Republican.

Why can’t it be, “I disagree with you, now let’s go to dinner.”

It would be a sad world if we only surround ourselves with people who share our opinions. If we agree on everything, one of us is not thinking. On the other hand, a healthy exchange of views helps us refine our arguments. And if we’re open-minded, it might even cause us to change our opinions from time to time.

We celebrate the Fourth of July next week and this will be an ideal time to reflect on what it means to be an American. Our difference of opinion should not be divisive, but a tie that binds us. So, whether we agree or disagree, we are all Americans.

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: