IR: How do you begin a conversation with an African American progressive about the merits of conservatism? What’s your elevator pitch?
Chidike: One of the fallacies that black progressives promulgate about black conservatives is that we have nothing to conserve except historically oppressive structures. Black conservatism is often presented as an ideology that is about protecting and preserving white supremacy. This argument is absurd. Black conservatives believe in the preservation of institutions that have been important to black life and survival, such as the nuclear family, the church, and the community. Although conservation is an important part of the black conservative worldview, it is not about the protection of pillars of oppression. Where demonstrably immoral structures exist, the black conservative cannot ethically justify attempting to look for the positive aspects of such structures. The black conservative is justified in subverting and seeking to dismantle oppressive systems. The conservation mind-set of the black conservative applies only to constructs that are both moral and salubrious. The notion that conservatives of African descent must look for the positive aspects in the apparatus of white supremacy is a caricature of black conservative thought.
Aside from the idea of conservation, black conservatism can also be understood as a stringent rejection of the Afro-pessimistic perspective that typifies black progressivism. As one of the key features of modern black progressivism, Afro-pessimism is essentially the belief in the permanence and omnipotence of white supremacy. It is this Afro-pessimism that makes black progressives constantly downplay the racial progress that has occurred in the United States. Afro-pessimism also leads to the promotion of black helplessness in the face of white supremacy. Genuine black conservatives, by contrast, have a viewpoint that focuses on optimism and the belief in the indomitability of the human spirit. Black conservatives believe in the human capacity for greatness and the ability to thrive—with or without the actualization of perfect racial harmony.