The stereotype often painted by the left of the right–whether Republican, conservative or libertarian–is of old, rich, white men. The left does this deliberately to corner those in favor of limited government and individual liberty into a defensive, racially divided box.
That prevents conservatives from mounting a united offensive against the left’s failed progressive policies. That also allows the left to minimize the ever-growing black participation in our movement. The question is: how do we fight the left’s tactic?
For a long time, one answer was to highlight black conservative faces. Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Thomas Sowell, and Clarence Thomas were presented as examples of how the right had broadened its tent. More recently, Michael Steele, Herman Cain, David Webb and Congressman Col. Allen West all became the face of diversity on the right in American politics. I respect and admire those individuals and the path they blazed and continue to blaze.
Still, 90% or more of the black community will likely vote for President Obama in 2012, if recent history is an example. We should consider something Andrew Breitbart understood: culture is ultimately the key in American politics. Until we reach out to young black men and women on a cultural level, it will remain harder to get through to them on a political level.
The country went crazy when President Obama sang Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” A few weeks later Congressman Col. Allen West was caught doing a stirring rendition of “Pretty Woman.”
Using my teenage years as a guide, if I saw both of those clips–without knowing either man’s political leanings–I would’ve been instantly and forever drawn to President Obama. To paraphrase Nelson Mandela, “Pretty Woman” is understood and speaks to the head of many of America’s blacks but “Let’s Stay Together” is on heavy rotation, because it speaks to our hearts as more a part of our culture. It is speaking our language, if you will.
In another case, there is a black politician I know who is pro-free markets, pro-family, in favor of protecting our 2nd amendment rights, and for decreasing poverty in his minority district.
He’s also a rapper.
When I first heard his songs, I was excited and asked him if he would show off his great talent on the campaign trail. I was disappointed when he said no–because he did not want to face the stigma attached to the hip hop industry. The Democrats–who are the biggest opponents of free speech–have no problem inviting rappers, singers, and actors into their campaigns. So where would the stigma come from?
While the media and Democrat politicians are wrong to provoke the racial divide as they always do, perhaps it’s time to not only focus on fighting them, but to think about how effective they may have been on our thinking.
Is a conservative rapper any less conservative because he, or she, embraces a particular type of music? I don’t believe that to be the case.
Put differently, is a conservative engaged within one segment of our American culture any less conservative than one engaged within another? I don’t believe that to be the case, either.
A war is coming to the black community–and it’s not the black-and-white war waged by the left. The battleground will stand firmly between Big Government, and its destruction of the black family and urban communities. A new generation of black conservatives is on the rise–one that grew up in, and still wholeheartedly embraces, the segment of American culture into which its members were born. The principles we hold closest were taught to us by that culture, and it is one of the weapons in our arsenal.
Must all conservatives embrace hip hop? No. Should Black Conservatives currently waging war on their own battlefield change their likes and dislikes? No–it’s a multi-pronged war, and we should attack on all fronts.
For me, the answer is not to embrace the left’s so-called “cultural diversity”–where diversity trumps other principles–but to celebrate the growing diversity of culture within the conservative movement. After all, I’m a testament to that. I have never tried to fit into the conservative movement, so much as I have simply come to enjoy being here. As my brother in the fight, Pudgy Miller, states, “Been Conservative since re-using paper bags for trash!”
Conservative principles shaped who I was before I could give a name to them, or defend what they mean to me. Black conservatives are not asking for the conservative movement to come and fight our battles for us. However, we do hope conservatives of different stripes and colors won’t fear reaching out within black communities simply because the music, or other aspects of black culture, may differ from their own. We are all still American and conservative, but with different interests and pursuits.
A conservative rapper may be a rapper. But–as with most of us–he or she is most often a conservative first, last and always.