In crafting Part 2 of this article focused on Black Conservatives, I wanted to talk to leaders who actually spend time with the community and are significant movers and shakers among Black Conservative thought. While I would have loved to have included a few better-known faces in what we call Conservative, Inc. in the conversation (and they were contacted), what these three leaders and innovators offer is a more prescient voice, as well as rich insights into the diversity of the conservative community. They reflect why having divergent voices not only makes Black Conservatism, but Conservatism as a whole, stronger.
Felecia Killings is the founder of The Felecia Killings Foundation and a dynamic motivational speaker and evangelist for the principles of Conscious Conservatism. One of the goals of her foundation is to train and equip others to spread the message of Conscious Conservatism into all aspects of life, business, and government. Killings is also brutal about holding Conservatism’s feet to the fire when Conscious Conservative principles, rather than the typical talking points or pandering, win the argument.
Now, what exactly happened in September to cause this boost🧐
Perhaps it was a BLACK AGENDA that your Conservative pundits told everyone we could never have.
Yet TWO teachers said this is the WINNING strategy for expanding conservatism.
Make this right! https://t.co/SdAJhJOAhF
— Felecia Killings🔥Founder of CBConservative MVMT (@CoachFelecia) October 16, 2020
Jeff Charles is a fellow contributor at RedState who uses his slyly acerbic wit to lay bare the hypocrisy of both Conservatism and the Left. Charles is a prolific writer not only on RedState, but for Liberty Nation, and other left-of-center platforms like the Huffington Post. He co-hosts the Red + Black show, which spotlights the different shades of Black Conservative thought.
Black Dems when Biden rejects a meeting with Ice Cube: pic.twitter.com/ddpl3JopMg
— Jeff Charles, Zoom's Largest Member (@JeffOnTheRight) October 15, 2020
RedState Editor-at-Large Kira Davis straddles the worlds of grassroots Black Conservatism and Conservative, Inc.; which is not an easy thing to do. She’s a regular guest host on KABC radio. Her podcast, “JLTY: Just Listen to Yourself” maintains a 4.9 out of 5 Star rating on Apple Podcast and Spotify, and has an impressive listenership of 25,000 for a toddler podcast. Davis also makes regular appearances on The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton, Fox News, OANN, and The Blaze.
Davis sometimes gets criticism for that straddle between grassroots activism and media pundit, just as Ice Cube is getting criticism for reaching across the ideological divide to help the Black community writ large.
“It doesn’t bother me if people want to say that about me or think that about me,” she said. “I know my life, I know my experience, I love the Black community, and that’s why I do what I do—everyone else can stuff it.”
As a woman of color I would like to say that I'd be fine to never have to hear the term "woman of color" ever again. Lawd. Can I have ANY OTHER identifier?
— Repeal AB5, No PROact (@RealKiraDavis) October 8, 2020
Killings sees the divide between Conservative, Inc. and grassroots Conservatism as “a conflict between principles and popularity. You have individuals who know how to work the game. You have faces who know how to make themselves famous and celebrities within Conservative, Inc., and then you have those of us who are like, you can actually become popular, by preaching principles. We can be the face, we can be in the forefront, but we can also focus on empowerment.”
Charles speaks to that divide as well, and divines the differences in the messages sent and received. “I think that where the Left falls well short is because their objective is not to empower Black people, but to get them more reliant on the State,” he said. “But on the Right, our messages are: You’re a slave on the plantation. If you don’t vote for us we’re going to perpetuate negative stereotypes about you because we don’t really know who you are. Our audience doesn’t really understand who we are, so it’s easier to deceive them into thinking that Black people are one way, when in reality the Black community has a lot in common with conservatism. Our message should be about empowerment.”
Killings adds, “This is not a terrible message, it’s not bad. But it poses a threat to the celebrity version in Conservative Inc. because they are so used to bashing and belittling Black people in the name of conservatism.”
Killings continues, “When it comes to Black male voters, I have said strongly that the conservative party needs to do a better outreach with that,” Killings surmised. “So yeah, you have Black voters who are upset, and will be indefinitely. As far as them coming over to the conservative party that easily, that’s not going to happen. They’re not going to sacrifice their humanity for so-called policies that may or may not work. It’s not going to happen.”
One of the more recent policy positions by the Trump administration has been to appoint noted Conservative, Inc. face Larry Elder to the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.
Charles has thoughts on that.
“To be clear: I’m not sure it will yield any concrete results for the Black community. I’d love to be proven wrong, but it comes off as a program designed to give the appearance that Congress is attempting to fix the wrongs done to the Black community without actually taking action.
“That being said, it’s hard for me to imagine how Elder would contribute to such an initiative given the fact that he identifies black culture as the sole contributor to the problems that many Black Americans face. He doesn’t seem to believe that the state has contributed to the problem in ways other than the welfare system. The reality is that welfare is just one issue, there are plenty of other wrongs that the government has done — and is still doing — to the Black community that must be addressed if we are to see real change.”
Two incidents this year appear to have exacerbated these wrongs to the Black community to ignition point: the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Two of Conservative, Inc.’s main voices: Candace Owens of Blexit fame, and Brandon Tatum of the “Officer Tatum” YouTube Channel, dove right in to attack Arbery and Floyd in the name of debunking the media narrative on the murders, and then doubled down on attacking other Black Conservatives who felt their rush to judgment was beyond the pale. Owens and Tatum were rightly called out for the fact that they did not stop, mourn the unnecessary and foolish loss of life, and wait for the facts before seeking after views, retweets, and likes.
In the past, Conservative, Inc. acolytes like Tatum, Owens, or their other counterparts would tee up their narrative, and other Conservative factions would just nod and choose the default that what was being said is representative of Black Conservative thought.
Many among the Conscious Black Conservatives, and some in the other factions, finally pushed back.
“Along with that is gonna naturally come the civil war that we’re seeing right now,” Charles said. “I mean, there’s just no way it can happen, and a lot of it is the fact that a lot of us have just become fed up. We’ve been hearing this stuff for years and years and years, and we are like, NO, you’re lying about the Black community. This isn’t who they are. You’re telling your mostly white audience that Black people are a certain way, and we know that it’s not true.
“Now we have the chance to repudiate it, so I think we’re kind of just running with it.”
Ice Cube got red pilled when he sent his plan to the Democrats and they brushed him off.
Then he sent it to the Republicans and they booked a meeting.
Real life experience will wake you up faster than anything!
— Hotep Jesus (@HotepJesus) October 14, 2020
Even five years ago, this would not have happened. Thanks to the rise of streaming, YouTube, and other alternative media, and the diminishment of cable news viewership, other Black Conservative voices could now be heard, and Millennials, Zoomers, and in some cases Boomers and Gen X were now hearing fresh narratives and different viewpoints on the state and solutions for the Black community.
Two of my favorites (who were not available for interview) are Uncle Hotep and Hotep Jesus. Their “Hoteps Been Told Ya” podcast is not only conscious and the way “Woke” should be, but the Hoteps lay out thoughtful, no-nonsense discussion in an uproariously funny way. They reflect a side of organic and common sense Black Conservatism that is making it to the forefront, and really should have a bigger platform.
— UNCLE HOTEP 🏁 (@UncleHotep) October 14, 2020
Killings points to the line drawn. “We’re saying over here, ‘If you keep that up, we’re gonna keep coming for you. They did not think we were big enough or strong enough to actually make an impact against them, until they saw their entire empire fall.”
Charles adds, “Those are different facets of Black political thought that people would not have been exposed to previously, because of all the gatekeeping. So I think what people are seeing is that now they are seeing. And honestly, I think they’re having a hard time knowing what to make of it. ’cause [they see it] as just a bunch of infighting or just a temporary thing.
Which is interesting, because they don’t say that when White Conservatives are going at it. I’m like, well, here’s where we stand, and here’s where they stand. You don’t necessarily have to take one or the other. Now there is more diversity of thought in the world of Black Conservatism, which I think is a good thing.”
Davis wrote an honest and viral piece on the failings of Candace Owens, and received a great deal of clap back; mostly from White Conservatives. Unflappable as always, Davis also sees this as a natural part of discourse, and not some huge divide.
“Some people may decide for themselves it’s a war. I don’t think I’m at war with anyone. When Black people discuss, debate, and argue, people try to calm us. It’s just like on the Left, we are not allowed to have differing opinions from each other,” she said.
“I don’t feel like I am at war or competing against other Black conservatives. She [Candace Owens] can do what she wants to do, and I can do what I want to do. I’m not interested in educating other Black conservatives about what they’re supposed to be.
“The Right, as well as the Left, try to make us a monolith. When you try to diverge from that opinion, it’s a problem. It’s another form of condescension,” Davis concluded.
As Uncle Hotep says, “It’s Grifting Season”, and both political parties have their surrogates out advocating that if you vote for me, the Black community will be bettered. So, the question remains, Is the Black Vote really up for grabs?
Davis is agnostic. “I have no idea. Everything is moving so quickly. Issues of fraud, there are so many factors here, I honestly don’t know what to think. Clearly, Biden is deteriorating, so obviously there’s not much enthusiasm, there never was. He’s a great Senator, there’s a reason he’s been one for so long. It’s just never translated nationally.
“It’s my opinion at this point, Trump is running against himself. I don’t know how to predict this. I just don’t know.”
Charles is more definitive: “I think in a large part, Black people are gonna stay home. I think they’re gonna say. ‘A pox on both your houses. We can’t stand either of y’all.’ I think Kamala Harris seals Joe Biden with Black women. But I think even with that, they’re not ‘Joe Biden’s’ voters.
“Enthusiasm, in general, is in the tank.”
Killings leans toward middle-of-the-road prognostications. “I think that for 2020 it’s not going to be a landslide; I think really at this point it can go either way. I think Americans are exhausted, it’s kind of like, ‘Can 2020 be over already?’ I don’t think they see themselves asking for another 4 years of what we have already experienced.
“Like I said, it could go either way.”
Aside from the known commodities attempting (with some success) to influence Black voters away from the Democrat ticket, in this election cycle more than ever, Black Democrats, Republicans, and Conservatives are questioning the veracity of simply voting for a ticket, without that ticket making tangible investment and enfranchisement in Black people and their communities.
Maybe it is because we were once commodities for exchange that we are more afraid to look at ourselves not as people to be bought and sold, but in whom one invests. Our vote value, as Charlemagne tha God said, “a quid pro quo”, and your support of any candidate is the currency that makes or breaks elections. Look at Joe Biden’s big win in South Carolina, or 2008 and 2012 for Barack Obama.
One political party has failed to do the work to earn it, while the other parties are stumbling in their efforts to bring Black voters to the table.
We will see after November 3 whether the Black vote was truly up for grabs.