Conservatism and the Black Community
Although there are many conservative principles that resonate with a large portion of America, ultimately, the root word itself has a major problem with black and minority communities. What world would African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and the many minorities in the country would like to conserve?
Is it the world of the 1950’s when racial tension, segregation and unfair laws held back minorities? Is it the current world in which some of our Latino brothers and sisters are considered illegal? Is is the world in which Native Americans were and are continually forcibly moved from their land and sent on reservations to rot?
I think conservatism works when people understand their rights, know that there is a system that will preserve and protect those rights and, the most important part, have had the opportunity to experience and enjoy those rights.
There have been certain periods of history when all three worked for certain groups. Although very still limited, the reconstruction period was a good period for African American men who wanted more for their community. However, when you consider not only those rights, but economic activity, wealth distribution, education and in general the social and economic ladder in this country, things get weird.
To take it a step further, it was Adam Smith, a 18th century economist who described the concept of the “invisible hand”. This invisible force basically allows local economies to thrive. Those with a valuable service and/or product can sell it depending on need in the community.
So, what happens when laws, policies and practices limit, stop and even destroy such productive economic activity in a community for generations? That “invisible hand” is stomped on and it’s fingers are broken.
You get what we call the present day African American community across the country (for the most part), blighted commercial and residential corridors with people who feel and understand to be marginalized without the belief that they can change their destiny. This perspective comes from not wanting to change but from experience of generations.
For years black businesses have gotten the short end of the stick in loans, real estate and opportunity. This leads to less investment, opportunity and for many African American’s less of a desire to change a system that has basically decided it will not change unless it destroys a large part of itself in the process. The Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement and even now with the Tea Party movement (although not on the same scale) are good examples.
For any conservative movement to work in minority communities it can’t come from a perspective of wanting to preserve, to protect or to undo. It has to come from the desire to really see change in these struggling and in some circumstances dying communities. It has to come from that passion and drive to see minorities doing better for themselves and their communities.