Friday, December 30, 2022

Reflections on the 'Black Conservative Box'

 By Jeff Charles |

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

As someone who has been in the black conservative space for years, I’ve experienced the same arrows and invective as most others in my position. Along with the usual slurs like “Uncle Tom” and “coon,” I’ve also been hit with one of the most braindead tropes that are popular on the progressive left: The idea that I’m only trying to earn “white approval” by spewing “white supremacist talking” points.

These insults are not typically used by rational, intelligent folks on the left (yes they do exist) who are capable of having a conversation or debate. Instead, they are favored by people of low IQ. Yes, that sounds like a nasty personal attack, but it is true.

Yet, this is the first time I have sat down to write a piece about it. The reason why is that I honestly don’t care about the opinions of irrational and unintelligent people, nor do I value the opinions of imbeciles. I think now it might be a good idea to address this issue after reading a piece by my good friend and author Adam B. Coleman.

Coleman wrote a piece for his Substack titled “Speaking Wrong At The Right Time,” which I highly recommend because he is almost as brilliant a writer as yours truly. The article, titled “I Hate Being In the ‘Black Conservative’ Box,” detailed some of the issues faced by melanated humans whose politics happen to be right-of-center.

“Being black & even moderately conservative places you in a box filled with false narratives about your motivations & constantly fighting against positions you never personally made,” he writes. “It’s an uphill battle for your own voice because all people hear are the voices of other prominent black conservatives or the voice in their head based on the avatar they’ve mentally constructed.”

Coleman also notes that the term “black conservative” is, in reality, “a box constructed for uniform thought as it’s assumed we all think the same way and have the same perspectives on everything.”

“Some enjoy living in this box but I don’t,” he explains.

This is a sentiment with which I empathize, having been in the same box myself for years. But it was what Coleman wrote next that got me thinking. He recalled a critic who said: “If he told the truth he would lose his white audience.”

“This statement implies that I have no integrity and that I spend hours upon hours writing things I don’t even believe,” Coleman explains.

The first thing I thought when I read the piece was that this argument used by progressives – black and white – is one of the most brazen displays of projection that I have come across in the political space. It reminds me of the oft-quoted maxim: “Always accuse your enemy of that which you are doing.”

The implication is that black conservatives, by and large, are merely tap dancing for a white audience, telling them what they want to hear to garner clicks, clout, and white accolades.

If I’m being honest, there are some black folks on the right who engage in this behavior. But if they were being honest – which they are not – they would acknowledge that this also exists among progressive circles. In fact, it is actually more prevalent on the left simply because there are more black folks among Democrats than among Republicans.

Every night on activist media outlets like MSNBC, CNN, and others, black faces get in front of the camera and start spouting the usual “everything is racist” claptrap that appeals to their white progressive audience and white progressive bosses. Indeed, white progressives pay these individuals big bucks to go on television and call white people racist – and these black faces are happy to oblige.

What do you think would happen if these people stopped peddling the progressive fairy tale about racist white police officers slaughtering unarmed black Americans every day? Why, they would lose their white audience, of course! In left-wing media, black people are not allowed to give nuanced takes on racial matters, nor are they able to hold members of their own party accountable for its own racism. I know this because I’ve had behind-the-scenes conversations with some of these folks.

The truth of the matter is that tap dancers exist in every area of politics – and it is not exclusive to skin color. Influencers on the right and left fall into the trap of throwing red meat to their audience without also offering substance and nuance.

These individuals are motivated more by popularity and cash than effecting positive change. The harsh reality is that it is more lucrative for people to tell their audiences only what they want to hear than it is to be truthful, even if that means criticizing members of your political team.

What is truly unfortunate about Coleman’s article is that he is right: This is unfair and unproductive. Having been his friend, I know he is 100 percent sincere about what he says and is not the caricature some have tried to paint him as. But in this era in American politics, that does not matter to some folks. It is also important to acknowledge that there are still people who value divergent thinking, nuance, and a desire to address societal ills.

These are my people.

I decided long ago that those who engage in these tactics are not worth addressing or thinking about. Instead, I prefer to deal with folks who are serious about change.