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Black Conservatives and Their Discontent: African Americans and Conservatism in America

African And African-american Studies 3655 - Spring 2020

In this course, we will examine the attraction of some African Americans to the ideas and aims of conservatism: limited government, individual freedom, the objectivity of merit, religious tradition, selfreliance, and a free market economy. On the matter of race, African Americans who identify as conservatives tend to be strongly opposed to Affirmative Action, distrust race-based public policy solutions and government intervention in race issues generally, are opposed to reparations for slavery, believe in character-building and values such as thrift and hard work as important virtues for blacks to cultivate. Their hostility to liberalism and leftist ideology is not quite the same as some religious-based black conservatives, such as the racially militant Nation of Islam and the several black Pentecostal sects, who strenuously believe that white liberalism and white leftist thought are expressions of white decadence. But it is not far removed from this. In this way, black conservatives are seen in a harshly antagonistic way by the national black political establishment, which is largely liberal, and by black intellectuals and scholars, who are, for the most part, leftist-leaning. The critics of black conservatism cannot understand how some black people can be attracted to ideas that are rooted in racist assumptions, are justifications for white domination, and have been used to defend the white-dominated status quo and a white, Eurocentric value system. Race must be used as a weapon for liberation from white thralldom. What does a black person have to conserve and why would he or she want to identify with an ideology that has been used to oppress them? Black liberals and leftists call black conservatives "Uncle Toms" and "Sellouts." Black conservatives return the antagonism in full measure, arguing that white liberals and leftists use the victimology of blacks as a cudgel, a tool, to beat whites with whom they politically disagree in order to effect the soci

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Black Conservatives and Their Discontent: African Americans and Conservatism in America
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