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I suppose this was a long time in coming. In the last couple of years (since I changed my political leaning on Facebook to 'conservative') I've fielded innumerable questions about my so-called conservatism. Some people genuinely thought I was confused, for, how could a young black person, a Howard grad at that, be conservative?? I do not think that word means what you think it means. - Inigo Montoya To start, I ought to define what I mean by modern conservative. Or, to add another layer of confusion, a modern black conservative. In my opinion, there are two ways to define something. Way one being, by taking a look at it's etymology and historic usage; way two being what it means to you and the people you know. For example: the term "probate show" when used in the Black Greek community, has two meanings. In the past, a probate show was (and sometimes, but very rarely, still is) a performance featuring the pledges of the fraternity or sorority, prior to their initiation. Today, the term is most often used to describe what is properly called a "new member presentation show," or a performance revealing those who have already been initiated. I've seen many an argument over whether one should use the term 'probate' vs 'new member presentation,' with the debate usually dissolving into the following: it means what most people think it means. Today, "probate show" = "new member presentation" in most circles, and even those who don't equivocate the two know what you mean when you say one or the other. When I say "modern conservative," I don't mean what the term has come to mean in recent years. I'm no Ann Coulter, no Stanley Crouch, no Rush Limbaugh. When I say "modern conservative," I mean to say that I am a person who considers herself to be conservative, yet aware of issues facing those of us living in the present. I don't think we can go back to the halcyon days of old, nor should we. In fact, I don't think those halcyon days were all that great to begin with. But I also think that while we rocket forward in technology and ideology, we're losing ground in pedagogy. Or, more importantly, we're losing sight of why things are the way they are. We can do so much, but just because we can, should we? I call myself conservative because I think the thing lacking most is restraint. And I seem to have it in spades these days (more than I need, probably). When I add "black" to that phrase, I complete the layer cake (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, in case you were wondering) that makes up my value system. I'm deeply in love with black people. I think we're awesome, for reasons that number in the dozens, if not hundreds. I once told someone that, if you break down Hillary Clinton's take on the issues vs. Barack Obama's ... well, my support of the latter has more to do with my love of black people than anything else. This of course, was prior to The Speech, at which point, I realized that we had before us a man who had a nuanced, thoughtful view of the race question. You see, I don't support Barack because he's black — if that were all it took, I would have backed Al Sharpton in 2004. But Barack's blackness, his understanding of blackness, his conservatism (and yes, Barack Obama is a black conservative if I've ever seen one) all speak to me. But loving blackness doesn't preclude loving others. And this, this is the biggest problem I see today, particularly amongst liberals (but more on that later); preferring one thing, expressing appreciation for it, desiring it, believing in it, does not mean you do (or must) eschew other things. My love of blackness does not equal a hatred of whiteness, a disgust of Asianness, a revulsion of Latinoness. Modern black conservative. Modern, because I don't long for some golden age of goodness. Black, because that's what I am, and what I love. Conservative, because my beliefs ultimately come back to a simple phrase: 'just because you can doesn't mean you should.' ___ To come: just what exactly is shani-o conservative about?

4 new thought(s):

Anonymous said...

Im not convinced and I won't let them have you. Can't wait to see your break down by the issues.

the joy said...

ok, i can see where this lies. in this case you kind of remind me of my mom. the whole restraint thing. i see you, and acknowledge that its not me, but i respect it. and thats what makes me a liberal, lol. and i see what you mean about barack being a conservative too. yay shani! i think we young people should be able to clearly define ourselves, for ourselves, and own it.

I think this was well written. Great post.

shani-o said...

Anon, who are you??? (And thanks, but there's no 'them' lol.)

Thanks Yoj!

CNEL said...


Yea I always wondered why you defined yourself as such, and if I agreed with you, does that make me a conservative too?