My mom has got to be one of the most conservative people I know. She’s serious old school. She is literally from a different generation. Whenever the woman sees me she cringes inside. She hates the lifestyle I’ve chosen for my family and my self. She hates the fact that I’m living in a committed relationship with a woman that has not been sanctioned by any state government. She hates the fact that I wear my hair locked in a style that clearly embraces my African ethnicity. I should have one of those nice close haircuts that handsome black man on the news channel wears. She hates the fact that my son, her grandson, was born out of wedlock. She hates the fact that her grandson is going to have locks.
My mom hates the fact that whenever we get together to celebrate the traditional holidays, I will not let the occasion past without trying to get people to think about exactly what we are celebrating. Yes it might be called Thanksgiving Day, but why is the black community bothering to celebrate the European taking over the land we now call America and condemning the Native Americans to virtual obscurity? The European coming to America is one of the biggest factors that led to the African holocaust and our ancestor’s journey through Middle Passage and the subjugation of black people. When the conversation gets intense my mom would respond with one of her pleas for peace and unity for just one day.
My mom hates my religion. Jesus Christ is the only lord and savior of people. She doesn’t care if an African based spirituality existed thousands of years before the Christ was born it is blasphemous if it does not recognizes the son of god. Are you kidding? I recognize Jesus! He’s one of the greatest ancestors humanity will ever know. Unfortunately, the life of the man we know as Jesus has been manipulated and redefined to represent him as a meek man who quietly resisted the establishment with some kind of version of civil disobedience for his day. It isn’t unlike what the establishment is trying to do with Doctor King’s legacy. In fact, if Jesus the Christ was here today he’d probably be hated as some kind of Middle Eastern terrorist in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba! Can we have peace in this house for just one day?
But with all of her conservative views my mom wouldn’t hesitate to help the black community. My mom is the type of person who tries to hire the unemployed in her community. There are a couple of men in the neighborhood who will knock on her door and ask her for a little help. She’ll hire them to wash her car or help her in the backyard. Unfortunately for them, since I’ve moved back home and am much more accessible to help my mom out for free, the amount of business my mom does with these men isn’t near what it used to be and they just don’t have a reason to come around as much any more.
My mother goes to one of the neighborhood black churches as often as her eighty year old ankles will allow her. When she needs work done on her house she does her best to hire black contractors. Some have taken advantage of her. Others have done phenomenal jobs and have established a serious long term business relationship. When she gets work done on her car she uses a mechanic in the black neighborhood. My mom is a big supporter the local theater clubs whether her ankles allows her to attend an event or not. My mom does her best to support what remains of our urban black neighborhood.
Like most urban black neighborhoods, the neighborhood I grew up in, the neighborhood I have returned to after all of these years, has seen much better days. A lot of the people who worked hard to buy their homes and to keep them looking good have passed away and their homes have gone to people who don’t have as much vested in the property. Some of the houses have been abandoned and severely damaged. There are vacant lots where some homes and businesses used to stand. There’s little money, or interest, in the black community to provide for the cleanup of litter and trash throughout the neighborhood. But my eighty year old mom will continue to plant flowers on her property and fight to keep the weeds from the neighbor’s yard from encroaching on her bluegrass lawn. Whenever she buys fertilizer and lawn treatments she makes sure she buys enough to cover the two immediate neighbor’s lawns.
My mom is royally disappointed in the black community. The younger generation of people doesn’t seem to care much about anything other than the pursuit of selfish materialism. But my mother also knows that there is a subtle but constant pressure being applied to impressionable people in the black community to conform to a particular set of stereotypical behaviors for black people. Yes black people are using drugs. But where are these drugs coming from? Yes black people are shooting each other. But where are the guns coming from? Yes black people are committing crimes of property. But where are the jobs that will keep unemployed black people from stealing? Yes black people are angry. But why are black people angry and what are we as a society doing about it?
I learned a lot from my mom. And one of the things that I’ve learned is that being a black conservative doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to abandon the black community or think that black individuals need to do for themselves. Like most communities, people with a vested interest in the development and survival of the community need to work together to keep the community strong. A community cannot survive if everyone is trying to do only for themselves. That’s not community but individuality.
When someone says they are willing to be hard against the black community or when they say they want to help the black community by removing any tools and instruments that can be used to help the black community, it has nothing to do with being a conservative or liberal. Such concepts are deeply rooted in a psychosis to perpetuate the status quo of white privilege and black subjugation. Black people who have the resources to help others in the black community or the black community in general but make the choice not to help are not limited to a conservative or liberal mindset. Conservatism has nothing to do with it.