Spelman College is a great school with a great tradition, and after reading the following article by one of their professors, I think you will see why. The author focuses on John McWhorter, but he could have well been writing about any one of my "new negro" friends who blog as conservatives.
Truth is, the only thing William Jelani Cobb shares with a certain right leaning black blogger is a last name. Said blogger should read the following cut and paste job written by his name sake, and send me a nice gift and a thank you note for giving him some education. He claims that he has been reading my blog a lot lately, so let's hope he hasn't stopped yet.
WARNING, this post is a bit long. But what the heck, it's the weekend. So put your feet up, turn off the television, and read.
"In the grand tradition of Booker T. Washington, author John McWhorter is either a conservative or a sellout, not that there's much of a difference.
Conventional wisdom has it that modern black conservatism has its roots in the philosophy of one Booker T. Washington, the Tuskegee Wizard whose advocacy of self-reliance, thrift, morality and hard work helped him build a respected university, a personal fortune and a political machine the likes of which have not been seen in black America since. But truth be told, given the Sunday-schooled, Southern-born outlook of large segments of black America the phrase 'black conservative' is damn-near redundant. (And a black "compassionate conservative" would, in most quarters, be simply called a liberal.)
The theme of self-reliance, self-respect and hard work run through nearly every major black movement of the 20th century – regardless of political persuasion. But there's a reason why Clarence Thomas is considered conservative in pejorative sense of the term and Louis Farrakhan, who is pro-business, anti-abortion, pro-death penalty (believing it should apply not only to homicide, but rape as well) and condemns "government handouts" is not. That difference being that most people believe Farrakhan – no matter his labyrinthine contradictions and metaphysical snake oil – has some clue to the persistence of racism in America.
With a few notable exceptions, the class of black conservatives is not at the forefront of the conservative debates of foreign policy unilateralism, stem cell research or deficit spending. Rather they're given dominion over a fiefdom of unwashed Negroes whose social maladjustment is to be condemned as consistently, stridently and creatively as possible. And this explains why Bill Cosby's case of racial Tourette's syndrome last April was widely viewed as 'conservative' as opposed to simply mean-spirited and incoherent. On some level, the terms have become synonymous.
Which brings us to our present concern John McWhorter. In the span of three years, since the publication of his initial foray into Negro punditry "Losing the Race" and its follow-up "Authentically Black," McWhorter has become something a negro-con phenomenon, appearing on television and talk shows and writing in numerous outlets. His arguments that blacks are done in by 'victimology' not racism, and that black people are doomed by their own 'separatist' and anti-intellectual tendencies amount to old malt liquor in a new 40-ounce. But no matter, it sells.
With McWhorter's school of conservatives we hear strains of Booker T. not so much in his views on thrift and hard work – because those are articles of faith across and political lines in the black community – but in his tradition of accomodationism and comically "putting on" for his (predominantly white) audience. Think about this in the context of McWhorter's obsessive concern – 'proving' that there really isn't much racism left in the country and you suspect that his books serve – intentionally or not – as balm for the white guilty conscience. The message to black folk: what you think is racism is actually just coincidental occurrence. Change to song: We have overcome. We just didn't notice.
Central to his indictment of black America on charges of self-sabotage is the idea that liberal soft-heartedness has made black mediocrity pay off. (He asserts that black students don't work hard, knowing that paternalistic white liberals will let them into the best universities anyway.) A mentor of mine once pointed out that there would be 'equality' in America when a black person could be completely mediocre and still achieve astounding success. The point is that among the many pernicious side effects of segregation was its ability to hide white underachievement from black people.
McWhorter indicts universities that consider race as a factor in admissions, but paradoxically has no problem with police using race as a factor in profiling random citizens. After being stopped and questioned by police for walking while black, McWhorter reports in 'Losing the Race,' 'I cannot say that I walked away from that episode furious that I had just been swiped by the long arm of white racism ... I felt that what had happened was a sign that the black underclass is America's greatest injustice, and that I ought to take it as a call to action to do as much as I can to help rescue the underclass so that such encounters with the police won't be necessary – because under the current conditions, whether we like it or not, they are.' "
Read the rest here.
Please don't send any perishables.