We Are Respectable Negroes is something I do out of love. But, I do not monetize the site. Nor, do I sell advertising here on the site (despite having been approached on many occasions.) Plus, the sooner that folks help me to reach my fundraising goal, the sooner I can stop asking you all for money. Help a respectable negro out if you would...
If you can, and are able to support We Are Respectable Negroes, the Paypal link can be found here or on the right sidebar.
Contemporary black conservatives do not come out of the ether. They have a history.
While a strong claim can be made that Black Conservatism, in its current form, is born outside of, and is alien to, the Black Political Tradition, I remain taken aback when I come upon writings and other material from decades (if not a century or more ago) which would be quite at home in the mouth utterances of Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain, or Jesse Peterson on Fox News in the present.
The Chicago Defender was the public voice of the African-American community for many decades. At its height, the Defender was the New York Times of Black America. As such, the newspaper was instrumental in the Black Freedom Struggle and was an integral part of the Black Public Sphere.
The following column, published on August 1, 1914, voices a deep anxiety about the migration of Southern blacks to the North and Chciago, and how those new arrivals threatened to upset the politics of Black Respectability that "New Negroes" and the black bourgeoisie were desperately trying to fight for in the face of vicious, violent, overt, white supremacy and its regime of lynch law, racial pogroms, and Jim Crow.
The Chicago Defender was firing a broadside against the black lumpen and underclass of their era in a war of survival against white racism. Tragically, when the great Chicago Race Riot and other pogroms came after World War One, those very same "new" and "respectable" Negroes would discover that their armor of relative class privilege, and of being the vanguard of the race, would mean little if anything to white marauders.
Are black conservatives in the post civil rights era an extension of an old public tradition of black scolding and critique? How do we locate President Obama in this history?
In reading The Chicago Defender's archives I am left with a sense that while yes, there are most certainly some problematic class politics at work in the following editorial, but that the newspaper's writers and editors had a deep and abiding love for Black America, one that contemporary black conservatives most certainly lack.
Despite the language here, The Chicago Defender was a beacon of race pride. Contemporary black conservatives are outside of this tradition as they are beacons of self-hate and racial shame: