by J. Pharoah Doss
A few months ago, Sunny Hostin, a Black host on “The View,” said she didn’t understand Black Republicans and that a Black Republican was an oxymoron. Nichole Hanna-Jones made a similar declaration during the Trump/Biden presidential race after Joe Biden told a Black on-air-personality “If you’re for Trump, then you ain’t Black.”
Hanna-Jones tweeted, in the midst of the Biden backlash from conservatives, “There is a difference between being politically Black and being racially Black. We all know this and should stop pretending that we don’t.”
When other Black people asked Hanna-Jones what she meant, she replied, “If you don’t understand the difference between being/designated a certain race and taking up a particular set of racial politics, I am not going to educate you.”
Hanna-Jones’s choice of words was an education in itself.
Racially Black is to be designated or characterized in a certain way. Therefore, being designated Black in America means being “characterized” by a racist White society, and Black Republicans/ conservatives embrace a “certain way” of being Black that is acceptable to White racists.
Distinguished political scientist Ronald W. Walters once listed how Black conservatives make themselves acceptable within a racist White society. 1). Accommodates the existing political arrangement. 2). Has loyalty to national norms. 3). Is opposed to America’s enemies. 4). Denies the integrity of Black culture. 5). Denies the capability of Black leadership. 6). Denies the integrity of Black interests.
Of course, this is a list of stereotypes filled with personal contempt, but there is a historical explanation behind this animus.
During the 1964 presidential race, the biggest issue for Blacks was whether the new president would sign and enforce civil rights legislation. The Democratic candidate promised to pass a civil rights bill, but Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate also known as the father of modern conservatism, was opposed to the idea.
In the 1950s, the Republican Presidential candidate received between 30 and 40 percent of the Black vote. In 1964, over 90 percent of Blacks voted for the Democratic candidate. Ever since then, the term Republican and conservative became synonymous with anti-civil rights and anti-Black. Therefore, to be politically Black means to be against everything the Republican Party and conservatives promote on principle.
For Hanna-Jones and the progressive Black intelligentsia, being politically Black is the essence of Black identity.
Since the essence of conservatism is to conserve, politically Black people don’t understand how any Black person could be a Republican or a conservative because Black people have nothing to conserve in a racist White society.
However, when the Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v. Wade, The View’s Sunny Hostin, the same person that said a Black Republican was an oxymoron, declared she didn’t believe in abortion, not even exceptions for incest or rape, because of her religious beliefs.
Hostin’s co-hosts were shocked.
But was it a shock because a politically Black person didn’t reject the Republican/conservative position on principle, or was it a shock because a Black person was willing to conserve a traditional value?
Hanna-Jones wants us to stop pretending there’s no distinction between racially Black and politically Black, but it’s more important for the progressive Black intelligentsia to stop pretending there’s not a segment of the Black population that is socially conservative and sides with the party that reflects their values.
Stephen L. Carter pointed out a fact that was silently known since the Civil Rights Movement in his 1991 book Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby. Carter stated apart from political issues relating directly to race, Black Americans tend to be more conservative than the nation as a whole, consistent survey results show that Black people are significantly more likely than White people to take what we call the conservative position.
During the second term of the nation’s first Black president, Angela K. Lewis published Conservatism in the Black Community: To the Right and Misunderstood. Lewis wrote, “There is this overarching belief that African-Americans are extremely liberal and support ideas like unlimited welfare assistance and open lifestyles. This characterization is incorrect.” Lewis stated she found when African-Americans talked about conservatism, they rarely mentioned politics, instead, they discussed morals and values.
Black conservatives aren’t rare, Black Republicans are an anomaly, but they’re not oxymorons.