Black and conservative in America
By Sean Turner
A child of the 70s, I grew up in a typical two-parent, middle-income household. My father, then a U.S. Navy man honorably serving his country, carried much of the discipline he acquired in the military into parenting.
Much of that order and discipline continues to permeate my thought processes. My mother, then part of the hustle and bustle of corporate America, was – and still is – a paragon of hard work and good work ethics. My parents instilled in me traits that benefit me to this day.
Politics in general was not a recurrent topic of discussion in our household, at least not in any depth. However, comments that did arise regarding political and social events certainly earned our family the so-called “liberal” label. Although there was no parental inculcation of liberal doctrine into my brother and myself, I developed and maintained a liberal philosophy through early adulthood.
Despite this, I was the object of re-current disdain and name-calling from the neighborhood children I grew up with because I was academically successful.
Then, as is often the case today, if you were a Black child who did well in school, you were considered to be “acting white.” To make matters worse, I was fairly articulate and did not possess the local accent common among Blacks in the Washington D.C. area in which we lived. So I was also considered to be “talking white.”
Situations such as these are unfortunate, particularly for young, malleable kids who can and often do succumb to peer pressure. Because of this pressure, I witnessed a number of children I grew up with (who I knew were capable of academic success) who, because of this pressure, instead, chose to dumb themselves down to fit in with the “cool” crowd. Little did they know how much this would adversely affect them for years to come.
Fortunately, I had strong parents who instilled strength and discipline in me. This allowed me to withstand years of verbal assaults. Some 20 years later, I’ve come full circle to experience similar mistreatment as an American who is Black and conservative. Though my detractors are now adults, the same infantile contempt for someone who is different exists.
Nevertheless, the times are slowly changing as an increasing number of young black Americans are departing from traditional liberal beliefs and voting patterns and embracing a conservative philosophy. Still, I, and a great many others like me are a minority within a minority. We are socially limited by Blacks who are liberal, yet not fully embraced by others who share the same political beliefs.
Baseless ad hominem attacks on Black conservatives by the increasingly outdated civil rights “leadership” has put undue pressure on us to keep our conservative beliefs under wraps for fear of ostracism. This is especially the case in academia, particularly among the predominately Black colleges and universities.
It is sad that most Black Americans and others who fight for racial diversity fail to accept, and even outwardly reject, political and philosophical diversity.