Saviors or Sellouts: The Promise and Peril of Black Conservatism, from Booker T. Washington to Condoleezza Rice

By Christopher Alan Bracey | Go to book overview

TEN

The Significance of Black Conservative
Thought in Modern American Life

I began this book with a question: What is a black conservative, and why would anyone ever choose to be one? The answer, it turns out, has less to do with prevailing Republican and Democratic Party platforms than with the lived experience of black people and their desire to lead full, meaningful, productive, and, perhaps most important, self-directed lives. Within any community, including the black community, there is disagreement over the means to achieve empowerment. Empowerment strategies take shape against the backdrop of social, political, and economic realities of a given moment. Political party platforms and positions are sourced from the instincts, attitudes, beliefs, and sentiments of the people—not the other way around.

For many blacks throughout American history, political views have been profoundly shaped by conservative precepts. These precepts evolved over time as blacks adapted, experimented, and combined them with other ideas to keep pace with the shifting political and cultural climate. Rooted in the black experience, but not constrained to any particular historic period, black conservative thought proves to be a remarkably robust and resilient organic intellectual tradition that demands our attention and respect.

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