The role of black conservatives

Chauncey DeVega takes the news about Trump’s deplorable ‘eulogy’ at the memorial service following the death of Lynnette Hardaway, who was the ‘Diamond’ to her sister’s ‘Silk’ as part of a duo who appeared prominently on conservative media as ardent Trump supporters, to examine the role that the current generation of what he calls ‘professional black conservatives’ play in American politics.

“Black conservative” is a specific type of character and performance in post-civil rights America (although the archetype long predates it). In the white right-wing imagination, these are black people who fulfill a fantasy role in a type of new-age race minstrel performance where they denigrate and insult the intelligence, dignity, and political agency of other black people for the pleasures of white “conservatives” and white America. These black conservatives claim that other black people are lazy, have “bad culture”, “can’t think for themselves”, are trapped on a “Democratic Party plantation.” If they “knew better,” black conservatives argue, more black people would actually be “conservatives.” Black conservatives also elevate themselves as exemplars of “hard work” and as “proof” that America is a meritocracy where anything is possible — “if you just stop worrying” about racism.

In what is perhaps their most important role, black conservatives are professional “best black friends.” They serve as mercenaries, human racism deflection shields who are deployed to tell white people some of the most grossly racist and vile things about other black people.

In total, today’s black conservatives function as a type of human projection and embodiment of white racist fantasies about the difference between “the good blacks” (compliant, submissive, and enabling of white racism and white supremacy) and “the bad blacks” (assertive, not submissive, resisting white racism and white supremacy, possessing human agency, not committed to making white people comfortable).

To be fair, there is a long and rich history of authentic black conservatism from within the black community that is based on a sense of linked fate and a deep love and concern for black people’s humanity, survival, and success. Moreover, this authentic black conservatism is not subservient to the white gaze or otherwise doing the work of white racism and white supremacy. Today’s professional black conservatives, however, are not part of that tradition or community of black political life and struggle. Today’s professional black conservative seeks and usually receives lucrative rewards from the right-wing machine.

The bigger and more important story is what “Diamond & Silk” represent. Today’s Republican Party and the larger neofascist movement uses black and brown bodies, women, gays and lesbians and members of other marginalized groups as human weapons in their war on multiracial pluralist democracy and a more humane and inclusive society.

Black conservatives have chosen to play a very lucrative role in the modern right-wing media machine. In the end, however, they are utterly disposable and easily replaceable because they are viewed as a type: cogs and pawns in a white racist fantasy projection, not real human beings.

Still, the larger concern — and real danger — is how today’s Republican fascists are using such figures and members of other marginalized communities to legitimize their campaign to end real pluralistic democracy.

DeVega also highlights the writing of Cristina Beltran about brown conservatives (Latino and Asian) who play a similar role in what she calls ‘multiracial whiteness’.

Rooted in America’s ugly history of white supremacy, indigenous dispossession and anti-Blackness, multiracial whiteness is an ideology invested in the unequal distribution of land, wealth, power and privilege — a form of hierarchy in which the standing of one section of the population is premised on the debasement of others. Multiracial whiteness reflects an understanding of whiteness as a political color and not simply a racial identity — a discriminatory worldview in which feelings of freedom and belonging are produced through the persecution and dehumanization of others.

Multiracial whiteness offers citizens of every background the freedom to call Muslims terrorists, demand that undocumented immigrants be rounded up and deported, deride BLM as a movement of thugs and criminals, and accuse Democrats of being blood-drinking pedophiles.

America’s racial divide is not simply between Whites and non-Whites. Thinking in terms of multiracial whiteness helps us recognize that much of today’s political rift is a division between those who are drawn to and remain invested in a politics of whiteness and those who seek something better.

To be clear, conservatism as a political ideology has a long and respectable history. It served to act as a check on the attempts by radicals to institute radical changes in society. They wanted to conserve the existing order as much as possible. But today in the US, those who most loudly call themselves ‘conservatives’ are anything but. They are in fact right wing radicals who want to make major changes that advance their extreme views.

This phenomenon of those who most loudly proclaim their identity being actually extreme versions of that identity can also be seen in religion. Those who most loudly proclaim themselves to be Christians are not representative of mainstream Christianity but are extremists who espouse all many of bigoted views on sex, gender, and politics.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    … multiracial whiteness …

    An interesting phrase, providing significant food for thought.

    Given the (neo?)fascist tendency to hijack and twist progressive terminology, I expect them to go apeshit with this one.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    I used to buy into the idea that conservatism was the necessary yin to liberalism’s yang (or vice versa if you prefer), but not anymore. Today, I see two modes of conservatism, both of which I abhor. One is an innate distrust or even fear of change. My sister has this in spades. For example, I tried for years to get her to try sushi, even just the cooked ones like shrimp nigiri, but nope, she was having none of it. I feel this is a kind of mental illness. There is no chance of disabusing her of it, it just has to be worked around as much as possible. I surely would never encourage her to run for the school board, and if she forgets to vote, don’t expect me to remind her.
    The second kind of conservatism I see is in privileged people who just want to hang on to their privilege. In many cases, these people might even become better off in a more equitable society, but rather than embrace that, they would just rather stay king of their little molehill because it elevates them above others, even if by only a small amount.
    Whichever the case, I don’t want people like this to have control over my society. I think the role of brake on radical liberal change can be played just fine by different factions of liberals tug-of-warring amongst themselves. No conservatives needed or wanted.

  3. Silentbob says

    @ 2 moarsciencepl

    My sister has this in spades. For example, I tried for years to get her to try sushi, even just the cooked ones like shrimp nigiri, but nope, she was having none of it. I feel this is a kind of mental illness. There is no chance of disabusing her of it, it just has to be worked around as much as possible.

    Hopelessly off topic -- but what the fuck? Dude the very first time your sister said she didn’t want to try sushi, that should have been the end of it. That you cheerfully admit to badgering her “for years” is alarming. Not wanting to eat sushi is not a mental illness. You know what is a mental illness? Trying to make other people in your own image. Next time you see your sister, please convey my condolences for having such a control freak for a sibling. To be clear -- people are allowed to not like sushi. People are allowed to not like sushi without ever trying sushi. Deal with it and leave your poor sister alone you wackaloon.

  4. No Respect says

    Sushi is disgusting, and I tried it from enough different sources to be sure. Good for moarscienceplz’s sister.

  5. consciousness razor says

    The word “class” (or “classism”) doesn’t make a single appearance, barely even a hint of it under the surface, as if that’s either not a thing or not worth discussing … because everything is being construed as racial, to the exclusion of being anything else. That’s not quite surprising, but it is still pretty remarkable.

  6. brightmoon says

    @2 I tend to agree , fear and/or greed mixed with suppression of others that’s what conservative means to me as well , which is why I’m not a conservative . Hanging on to old ways that never worked well isn’t smart!

  7. friedfish2718 says

    It is a pity that Mr Singham, Chauncey DeVega, Cristina Beltran, Hannah Allam, Razzan Nakhlawi have no documented direct interaction with a conservative. All I am getting from said mentioned people is 2nd, 3rd hand account, opinion, hearsay of what conservatism is. Five blind people examining an elephant, attempting to figure out what the animal is. Yes, I know, the elephant is the mascot of the republican party while the jackass is the mascot of the democrat party. What is the mascot of the Socialist party? The skunk?
    Mr Singham quotes DeVega who writes: “To be fair, there is a long and rich history of authentic black conservatism…”. But no example is given of this “authentic black conservatism”.
    Mr Singham himself writes: “…right wing radicals who want to make major changes that advance their extreme views.”. But no example of these “extreme views” is given.
    Would the American Left consider Booker T.Washington an “authentic black conservative”?
    “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs-partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.” (Booker T. Washington, 1911)
    Mr Singham writes: “They wanted to conserve the existing order as much as possible.” Inaccurate, but understandable since Mr Singham has no documented direct interaction with a conservative. Mr Singham is supposed to be a scientist, an academic and thus he should be accurate with his words. Pity he is being sloppy with his writing and thinking. More accurate: “They wanted to MAINTAIN order as much as possible.” Order is not synonymous with stasis. Order is not synonymous with status quo. Can Order and Change coexist? Answer: YES!!! Do you consider the Founders of the USA conservatives? I do. The Founders proposed Constitutional ORDER for this nation of the USA. There is a reason for Constitutional Amendments: MAINTAINING order (Constitutional Order) while the nation is undergoing changes (demographic, societal, cultural, economic, political, etc.).
    Where any Constitutional Amendment been a mistake? YES!!! The 18th Amendment (Alcohol Prohibition) campaigned for, pushed for by Progressives. Then societal mayhem. Then the 18th Amendment was abrogated. Return of some societal order.
    To paraphrase a French philosopher: the politics of the Right is one of Order, the politics of the Left is one of Movement. So Mr Singham is correct in associating order with conservatism, incorrect in conflating Order with Stasis. The opposite of Order is Chaos. Who wants chaos? Meanwhile the Left’s ideological goal posts are always moving. The Left’s motto: MOVE!!! Keep moving, dammit!!! Even if Nirvana, Utopia is reached, keep on moving DAMMIT!!!
    Big Money. Big Left. Big Right. Both Big Right and Big Left are controlled by the White Supremacist top 0.1%. The endowment of Big Left is at least 5 times greater than that of the Big Right. Years ago a chess GM advised me: play the pieces on the board, not the player across the board. I am amused when critics focus on the money source and NOT on the merit of ideas. There are grifters on both Left and Right. I find the views, opinions of grifters (Left and Right) to be pretty weak and shallow. However the message discipline of the Left (grifter, non-grifter alike) is much greater than on the Right. When listening to the Left, I hear the same talking points, the same buzzwords, the same slogans, all singing the same hymns from the same leftist hymnal. In many ways the Left is more catholic than actual devout catholics.
    What do the following have in common :Michael Brown, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Pamela Turner, Rekia Boyd, Ezell Ford, Akai Gurley, Dontre Hamilton, William Chapman, Jonathan Sanders, Freddie Gray. Corey Jones, Philando Castile, Joseph Mann, Terence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott, Alfred Olango,? …….. Answer: they are all Black, killed by police, whose killings were then followed by street riots instigated mostly by Black Lives Matter.
    Why no similar street riots when police kills a Hispanic unarmed man? Such killings happen. Why isn’t La Raza fomenting social violence like Black Lives Matter? Yes, activists do their best to stir up racial discontent in hispanic communities who rarely bite the bait. The American Left is disturbed.
    NBC News (Aug 18, 2020): “Police killings of Latinos lack attention, say activists”.
    LA Times (Apr 20, 2021): “What will make people care about police shootings of Latinos?”
    Wash Post (May 31, 2021): “Latinos are disproportionately killed by police but often left out of the debate about brutality, some advocates say”
    “Yet again, we’re seeing evidence of what happens to Black and brown people from simple traffic stops.” — Ben Crump, attorney for Tyre Nichols’ family
    Now, the left mixes Black with Brown (Hispanic, Asian): not “black” but now “black and brown”.
    “It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and brown Americans experience every single day.” — President Joe Biden
    “Violence like what happened to Tyre Nichols is about how some bad cops use their power over Black and brown victims.” — CNN’s Van Jones
    Absence of leftist attacks against Hispanic Conservatives is strange.
    Absence of leftist attacks against Asian Conservatives is strange.

  8. says

    It is a pity that Mr Singham, Chauncey DeVega, Cristina Beltran, Hannah Allam, Razzan Nakhlawi have no documented direct interaction with a conservative.

    What, you think none of them ever heard one talk? I don’t have “documented direct interaction” with any Republicans, but I know fine well what I’ve heard them saying since 1980; and I also know they’ve been dead wrong and absolutely full of shit the whole time.

    Absence of leftist attacks against Hispanic Conservatives is strange. Absence of leftist attacks against Asian Conservatives is strange.

    Absence of a point in those last two sentences is kinda strange too.

  9. Tethys says

    Fried fish is a troll, obviously. It merely regurgitates a mishmash of right wing sloganeering into meaningless paragraphs, much like chatbots.

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