Effective Black Outreach: How Should Black Conservatives Address Issues of Importance to Black Americans?
The Moral High Ground in Conservatism
Since 2016, I have been on the front lines of the Black Conservative social media movement. Before that, I had always been a Republican voter. Conservatism is all I know; and over the years, I have watched as my value system empowered me to conquer the insurmountable.
Conservatism is built upon the idea of the individual.
We seek to preserve the individual rights above the collective; and at times, this individualism translates into individual thinking.
Among the most prominent talking points within the Black Conservative Movement is the idea that Black Conservatives are the true "free thinkers." The other 90% are locked in mental bondage simply because they vote Democrat.
In this space, this is the moral high ground. And any Black Conservative who ascribes to conservative politics is seemingly superior in intellect than other Black Americans.
Now, perhaps it's because I've spent so many years in the public space, but I have never ascribed to such beliefs. In fact, such thinking would have prevented me from helping hundreds of scholars graduate from high school. If I believed Black people were intellectually inferior to me because of our political differences, my scholars would not have loved me as they did.
So, at times, when I see the Blexit babies use their platforms to suggest certain Black people are "less than," I worry that their words will come back to haunt them. This leads me into the recent discourse that took place on Twitter.
Can't Be Pro-Black and Pro-Choice?
Before I dive into this main topic, I want to address one question here: What does it mean to be pro-Black?
Often, you will hear me speak about this topic from my own platform.
I am pro-Black. I love Black people. I love the Black family. I love Black businesses. I love Black entertainment.
I love Black culture, but not the kind mainstream White Americans push.
Felecia Killings is pro-Black because I believe in the richness of our heritage, the magnitude of our struggle in this country, and the ways we've overcome challenges because of our conscious conservatism.
To me, this is the essence of pro-Blackness. And it has nothing to do with hating White people. (Somehow, White people like to interject themselves in Black people's lives all the time ... but I digress.)
To be pro-Black is to essentially support initiatives that empower other Black Americans. And it seems fitting that if a person is "pro-Black," then how can she also be "pro-choice"?
Now, let's examine this other portion: What does it mean to be pro-choice?
For the most part, Conservatives equate "pro-choice" with being anti-abortion. So, instead of simply saying, "I hate abortion," they say, "I'm against a woman's right to choose what is done to her body and the fetus."
Now, today's lesson isn't a discussion about the merits (or demerits) of the abortion topic. Instead, I want to challenge us to consider how our message conflicts with our message. In other words, if I am pro-Black, why would I also be in favor of the government mandating what people do with their bodies? If I am Conservative who believes in small government, why am I advocating for stricter laws that restrict what women do to themselves?
Do you see what I mean when I say, "Our message conflicts with our message"?
A while ago, I asked Beloveds to give me their opinion about what is the most effective method for helping women who are contemplating abortion.
More specifically, the first poll read:
In this first poll, I wanted Conservatives to get into the mind of a religious woman who is contemplating abortion. According to the poll, 90% said they would keep the baby and face social isolation.
I can't tell you how surprising that was to me, simply because it showed how much these voters were lying.
And I know they're lying because the data prove otherwise.
Among the abortion rates in our country, more than half of them are committed by religious women.
You know I always bring receipts to the table, so let's examine them here.
According to one study, "Many abortion patients reported a religious affiliation—24% were Catholic, 17% were mainline Protestant, 13% were evangelical Protestant, and 8% identified with some other religion. Thirty-eight percent of patients had no religious affiliation" (Source).
Catholics are among the most prominent advocates of the pro-life movement; yet Catholic women constitute almost a fourth of the abortions performed in this country.
The reasons for this are exactly the reasons I posted in my poll: because religious women fear social isolation.
Let's look at my other poll.
I asked my Beloveds the following question:
An overwhelming number of voters said the best person to convince a woman to avoid abortion is the woman who had one and regretted it.
Surprisingly, voters felt a man was more "effective" at convincing a woman than a woman who has never been pregnant!
When I examined the comments in the thread, each Beloved shared that experience and compassion were key factors when they selected "C."
Now, let's look at the final poll.
In the third poll, I wanted Beloveds to consider whether or not people who have never experienced certain events should speak on those events, especially to fellow Americans.
Overwhelmingly, 70% said "Yes" because they felt everyone should be able to express their opinion on controversial topics.
What do these data sets reveal about Conservatives?
When we look at the overall responses, I am brought back to my initial argument that our message often conflicts with our message.
If Conservatives claim to be about that pro-life movement, then why are more than half the abortions in this country committed by religious (Conservative) women?
If Conservatives know that the best person to convince another mother out of abortion is by hearing from a mother who regretted it, then why push women away from the pro-life movement with their judgmental opinions?
I could careless about "they have a right to speak their mind." That's not what this lesson is about.
I'm asking, "Is what we are doing from our platforms effective?"
I'm asking, "If we can't even refrain from having abortions, Conservatives, how do we expect the rest of our country to stop?"
These are common sense questions that require common sense answers. We must learn how to approach certain matters from a common sense perspective so we see our communities thrive.
These experiences are my experiences.
When I framed those questions for my Beloveds, those ideas came from my own experience.
Before giving birth to Aaliyah, I aborted my first child.
Now, my abortion wasn't the gruesome one you see plastered on the pro-life posters.
I was a couple weeks pregnant, and decided to take the abortion pill. My doctor couldn't even see the seed on the ultrasound. She wasn't even sure I was truly pregnant. That's how tiny it was.
Nevertheless, that seed contained life. And I know this because years later, the Holy Spirit gave Aaliyah a dream. In the dream, she saw her older sister. When she woke from the dream, she asked me if she had a sister, and that's when I told her about my abortion. (I shared this story on Facebook, and it went viral.)
I chose abortion at that time because I was heavily involved with the church. I was one of the youth leaders. So, the threat of social isolation was real for me.
At the same time, I had been in a committed relationship. But I feared the social stigma I would experience, because I remember seeing my younger sister go through it. (The church is extremely volatile towards unwed mothers.)
It wasn't until after I had that abortion that I realized I could careless about what the church thought of me. So, when my ex- and I became pregnant again, I kept my daughter. She has been the inspiration behind this entire virtual empire I have built.
When asked if a pregnant mother should keep her child, I can tell her "Most definitely!" When a mother becomes worried about how she will support the baby, I can point her to the exact resources I used to build my economic empire.
Today, I am well-equipped to give pregnant mothers an answer because I have lived the experience. My connection and compassion minister to each woman. And I am confident that it's only because I know what they are going through.
The purpose of conservatism is not to preach our values from our high horse. We aren't to use our platforms to push people away from our empowering message. When we are trying to save people, we don't pull them up with sharp knives. We use the tools that will get them out of their rut while also preserving their personhood.
Some would argue, "Well, Felecia, you're really mean to Conservatives." And I would say to them, "Of course, I am!" I am not pro-Conservatives. I am pro-Black. So, when I see Conservatives using the ideology I love to dismiss Black people, I'm coming for blood!
But to the Conservatives who see themselves (and the world) through the eyes of the Spirit, I consider them my brothers and sisters. And I want these individuals to be empowered to evangelize our conservative message effectively.
So, as you approach another week on Twitter or whatever social media platform you love, think about messaging. Think about presentation. Consider experience and storytelling above the talking points. Add substance to your message, and people will listen.
I guarantee it, and I will continue to preach this my platform until YahWeh says, "That's enough, Felecia."
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