It’s very difficult to discuss racial issues in America because every conversation tends to devolve down into some hostile version of, “That’s racist” vs. “No, it’s not” -- and nothing ever gets accomplished.
In an attempt to try something a little different, I reached out to some friends: Demetrius Minor (Preservation and Purpose: The Making of a Young Millennial, A Manifesto for Faith, Family and Politics), Kevin Jackson (Race Pimping: The Multi-Trillion Dollar Business of Liberalism), Jennifer Burke and Talitha McEachin. They all posted messages on their Facebook pages requesting questions and I’m going to be honestly answering some of them in a respectful manner.
1) "I want to know why white conservatives deny that racism exists so much. It's like they are living in a different America."
There’s no question that racism still exists.
However, I think there’s an enormous difference of opinion about how pervasive it is and how much of a factor it is in people’s lives.
On a personal level, I’m a white conservative Tea Partier in my forties who grew up in the Deep South and even growing up, I found racism to be very uncommon. Not that I didn’t run across any racists, I did, but they tended to be old, set in their ways and I sort of assumed they just grew up that way and couldn’t change.
I never saw any discrimination against black Americans in high school or college, I’ve never seen discrimination at anywhere I’ve ever worked and even though I’ve literally talked to thousands of conservatives in politics, I’ve never heard any of them privately express animus towards black people. In the last twenty years, I think I’ve privately heard three people say the N-word – and, yes, it’s rare enough that it sticks out. Given that, why would I think racism is everywhere?
On the other hand, I think there are a number of people on the Left who are highly motivated to convince people that America is racist and that white conservatives hate black Americans because of their skin color. Not only does it keep black Americans voting Democrat no matter how badly the Party fails them, there are people who essentially make a living by hurling around accusations of racism. So, they attribute almost every dispute, every disagreement and every problem black Americans have to racism – and they’ve convinced a certain percentage of people that they’re right.
The problem with that is once you become truly convinced the country is racist and white conservatives hate you, it’s almost impossible to change your opinion because there’s no way to “prove” to anyone’s satisfaction that a person or the country as a whole isn’t racist.
So, yes, I agree that racism exists, but I think it’s a very minor problem that doesn’t have much of an impact in people’s lives.
2) “Why does the white right-wing rally behind so-called black conservatives who are no more than sell-outs?”
As a general rule, human beings like and defend other human beings who agree with them. It works that way with pretty much everything. If you’re a fan of the Knicks and someone starts trashing another Knicks fan for liking the team, you’re likely to stick up for him.
Additionally, white conservatives don’t view black conservatives as “sell-outs.” They view them as having the common sense to see that liberalism doesn’t work.
Moreover, since there aren’t that many minorities in the Republican Party yet, white conservatives are more likely to elevate and stick up for the black conservatives we do already have in the Party. If conservatism can’t hold onto the minorities it has, we certainly can’t add more.
3) "Why do white conservatives love either flying or defending those whites who display the Confederate flag? It's like they are stuck on the 19th century."
I’ve never been a big Confederate flag guy and honestly, even living in the Carolinas, you don’t see them very often. Well, I shouldn’t say that because they are all over the t-shirt shops, where I assume the tourists buy them and take them home to freak out their friends.
For the most part, I think people talk past each other on the Confederate flag.
Black Americans very understandably see Confederate flags as a symbol of racism and slavery.
However, there is a significant number of white southerners who don’t look at it that way. To them, the Confederate flag is a connection to their ancestors who fought an undermanned, outgunned, even romantic battle against forces that were invading their homes. These are the sort of people who’ll tell you that the Civil War was fought over “states’ rights,” not slavery. That’s kind of a, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” argument because if slavery hadn’t been an issue, there would have been no “states’ rights” issue. In any case, people feel the way they feel and when they say, “Heritage, not hate” in reference to the flag, they’re serious.
So politicians in the South would end up getting caught between these two blocks of voters: black voters who think the flag is racist and some white voters who would be genuinely offended if the flag (and by extension them) were called racist.
For the most part, it’s a non-issue these days, but that gives you a better idea of what caused the conflict at the time.
4) "My questions are what is their problem with learning Black History, celebrating Black History month and with those who want to celebrate Kwanzaa?"
These are all pretty minor issues that don’t really get much attention one way or another from white conservatives, but….
A) I don’t think white conservatives have a problem with learning black history. It’s just sort of a useless thing to major in while you’re in college, kind of like philosophy or women’s studies.
B) There’s a general dislike amongst white conservatives of anything that encourages us to separate as people based on racial lines. Black History Month does that and there may be some residual dislike caused by it.
C) Kwanzaa is a silly, made-up holiday, kind of like Festivus from the Jerry Seinfeld show and it’s mildly annoying to hear people in the government treat it like a serious holiday.
5) "Why are some Conservatives seemingly unyielding to benefit programs geared towards Minorities?"
I think some people assume that the conservative dislike of benefit programs has to do with the fact that minorities participate in them, but whether you’re talking about welfare, food stamps or pretty much any other benefit program, the majority of people on the dole are white.
As a general rule, conservatives don’t like these programs very much because we believe an awful lot of people on these programs just don’t want to work. It’s one thing to help someone who’s temporarily in dire straits, but when it goes on year after year, then conservatives feel like the taxpayers are being taken advantage of.
Additionally, we believe these programs encourage the recipients to rely on the government instead of taking care of themselves. That’s not something we should be doing and if there were no minorities getting any type of welfare, I doubt if the conservative attitude towards the programs would be any different.
6) "Why do white conservatives always side with the police…whenever there is a shooting of a black youth?"
First off, conservatives are big proponents of law and order. It’s almost part of the conservative DNA. As such, we can be generally expected to give the police the benefit of the doubt and have a very low tolerance for criminal behavior.
So, if let’s say a WHITE GUY robbed a store, attacked a police officer and then got shot, like Michael Brown, the sympathy level for him amongst white conservatives would be pretty close to zero. The attitude is something akin to, “Sorry he got killed, but at least he’s not going to be robbing my house tomorrow night.”
That doesn’t mean police can do no wrong with conservatives. Most conservatives have warmed up to the idea of body cameras for cops. Police officers should also face consequences if they break the law. For example, the nervous cop who shot Akai Gurley to death while he was walking down a stairwell deserves to go to jail.
However, if you attack a police officer, point a weapon (or a realistic-looking toy weapon) at a cop or resist arrest and it goes wrong, conservatives are unlikely to side with you).
7-A) "What are/will white conservatives do, in the way of outreach to minority communities."
White conservatives do a terrible job of outreach to black Americans, but we’re also in a tough spot. Democrats have been telling black Americans for decades that white conservatives hate them, don’t care about them, despise them for being black, etc., etc.
The only way to reverse that is to actually reach out and show people those things aren’t true and that we care. However, anyone who tries to do that, no matter what he says or does, will be called a racist.
At a certain point, I think white conservatives have to stop taking it personally, say, “Ok, I got called a racist; so what?” and move forward. People don’t care what you have to say until they know you care about them. If we get too scared or angry to talk to people because we’re falsely called bigots, we’re never going to make any progress.
7-B) “As much as white conservatives complain about black people voting Democratic, what do they have (to) offer?”
I’m glad you asked that because liberals have been failing black communities for 50 years while conservatives have a lot of policies that could make a real difference for black Americans.
* We believe in school choice so your kids don’t get stuck in a terrible school.
* We’re pro-life, anti-gay marriage and pro-Christianity. The Democrats are none of those things.
* Conservatives are tough on crime. If you’re scared to walk home at night, you want a conservative Republican to take over.
* We believe in the 2nd Amendment so that you can defend yourself from criminals while you’re waiting for the police to arrive.
* Most conservatives are also against illegal immigration, which is hitting black Americans particularly hard. How many millions of black Americans are out of work today or taking home less in their paychecks because of illegal immigration?
* We want low taxes so that as you make more money, you get to keep more of what you earn instead of giving it to the government.
* Conservatives are more business-friendly. Want to start your own business? Need a job? You want a conservative in charge.
That agenda doesn’t appeal to every white American and it’s certainly not going to appeal to every black American. However, if it’s something you think you need more of where you live, you should be voting Republican.