I am still getting a lot of responses to my article on commentator Candace Owens’ remarks about black culture, and as you might imagine, the opinions are mixed. Obviously, many disagreed with my assessment of Owens’ remarks and my opinion on Black Conservative Inc’s™ flawed approach to the black community.
But, to my surprise, I had far more positive responses than I expected.
I received responses from conservatives who have felt the same way about the rhetoric and messaging strategy being used in regard to black Americans. They agree that the approach does more to repel black voters than attract them.
Still, if I am going to criticize an approach I believe to be an abysmal failure, it makes sense to put forth alternatives. Regardless of what you think of the strategy Black Conservative Inc.™ uses it is undeniable that it has not worked.
The type of rhetoric I discussed in the previous piece has been used by both black and white conservative leaders for decades and has not moved the needle. It’s time to try something new. So here it is.
For starters, we must change how the overall messaging the conservative movement promotes in relation to the black community. This would include politicians, pundits, right-leaning media outlets, and other thought leaders.
Instead of speaking of black men and women as thugs and welfare queens, we should treat them as fellow Americans. Rather than viewing African Americans as “mental slaves” on a plantation, we should take an honest look at the true reasons they do not support Republican candidates at the local, state, and federal level. (See: Conservatives, Let’s Stop With The Plantation Talk)
Instead of blindly accepting the usual narrative about black culture on the right, we must be willing to learn what black culture truly is. This means that we do not ignore actual issues in the black community. It means that we use a more educated approach that does not rely on banal stereotypes and lazy talking points.
While discussing the negatives of black culture, we must also be willing to acknowledge the positive aspects as well. Many of use lament the deterioration of American culture and how it has impacted our society. But you rarely see a conservative commentator that does not also praise the virtues of our principles and the great things it produces. The same attitude should also be shown for black Americans and other minorities.
Here’s an example. Instead of focusing solely on “black-on-black” crime in cities like Chicago, why not also acknowledge those on the ground who are working to curb gang violence? In fact, since the Democrats do not seem interested in dealing with the problem, why not highlight those who are? Even more, why not partner with those who are pushing towards positive change?
Last year, I spoke with Shakem Amen Akhet, who heads the Community Resource Center in South Carolina. He’s not the type of black conservative you might see in mainstream conservative media, but he’s doing the work to help disadvantaged children and adults.
When you watch the video, you will see what he is doing to impact his city, and it will look a lot like conservatism. He is an example of the type of black conservative that we can partner with to make progress.
*If the video doesn’t play, just click here.
The bottom line is that at this moment, conservatives seem to have nothing to say about solutions. Moreover, we tend almost exclusively about black people who fit the “thug” or “‘hood” stereotype while ignoring the everyday black folks who work, worship, and raise families like other Americans. The former is more common than the latter despite what Black Conservative Inc.™ wants you to think. Instead of lecturing the black community from afar, let’s address the black community in fellowship, rather than condescension.
Those representing the black conservative movement, especially, must be willing to do more than just speak about the black community; they must be willing to speak with the black community. Honest conversations with black Americans are necessary. It is critical that we break the habit of reciting lines from an inaccurate script that only pushed African Americans away instead of bringing them closer.
Honest conversation means a willingness to acknowledge the historic and current impact of racism on black America. But it does not mean we have to embrace the progressives’ exaggerated and dishonest narrative about bigotry. One of the mistakes the right made is easily seen in how we react to the left.
So-called progressives want black people to think white police officers with KKK hoods are lurking behind every tree with a rope to hang unsuspecting black men. They try to convince the nation that we are still living under Jim Crow and overt government oppression. The narrative they promote is little more than a fearmongering attempt to promote enmity between the races.
In response, conservatives went to the opposite extreme, intimating, on the one hand, that racism is essentially meaningless and nearly nonexistent. On the other hand, they argue that “Democrats are the real racists” harming the black community.
Both cannot be true at the same time, so which is it?
Like most issues pertaining to race and culture, the answer to this question is more nuanced. Acknowledging racism still exists and has an impact, albeit not nearly as horrific as the left wants us to believe, does not somehow constitute giving in to the left. If anything, taking a measured approach is precisely what is needed.
Conservatives abdicated their role in the conversation on race and culture. But we have an opportunity to be the proverbial “adult in the room” if we can get to a place where we are no longer taking our cues from the left.
I understand many will disagree and insist we keep doing what we’ve been doing for decades in using the Black Conservative Inc™ strategy. It is not easy to persuade people to abandon their preconceived notions, especially because attitudes toward black Americans on the right have been deeply ingrained.
But I would ask that you have an open mind. Regardless of whether we agree or not on the solution, the reality that the current way of doing this has failed miserably is indisputable. As I said in my last piece, we need to adopt a different type of messaging if we wish to bring more minorities into the fold. But before we embrace a new strategy, we must have a different mindset. Otherwise, we will just see more of the same.