The recent blockbuster film, The Black Panther illustrates that the proper political atmosphere for African American rejuvination is conservatism. In the film, the Black Panther is the king of Wakanda, an isolated nation in Africa that is the most technologically advanced nation on the planet.
Because of a meteorite of vibraniaum, the strongest metal known to man, that crashed there ten thousand years ago, the Wakandans were able to develop advanced weapons which, throughout their history, has allowed them to guard themselves from invasion. And which, in addition, is the result of their isolation. For ten thousand years, since their culture was never interrupted, they have enjoyed the luxury of safeguarding their way of life.
Unfortunately, however, Wakanda is a fiction. What concerns me, nonetheless, is what can be intellectually gleaned from this fiction, in such a way, that benefits us. If Wakanda, say, were one of the fifty states, here, in America, and if it maintained all of its essence in terms of its politics, despite the ninety nine percent African American population by nature it possesses, the nation would in addition be a state of black Republicans.
Because of the nation’s philosophy of preserving tradition, if it were one of the U.S. states, it would have to be. Yet, in present day America, that sounds absurd. Wakanda, herself, is more believable than to imagine an all black American state that is overwhelmingly Republican.
Before the film even dropped, if anyone had suggested such an idea they’d most certainly be laughed at. Everyone, if you are an American, knows that black people, provided they participate in the political process, are the opposites of Republicans: Democrats. Black folk are democrats–nowadays, that’s just the case. Every now and then, one may stumble upon the proper, “uncle Tom,” “Hey Bob,” type of brother that considers himself a Republican. But on average, African Americans are Democrats. And though I have not ready to hand the statistics, I am sure they support the claim.
Now, although African Americans are presently on average Democrats, this has not, historically, been the case. Up until the 1950s, African Americans were conservatives similar to their fictional Wakandan relatives. Notwithstanding the reality of their systematic oppression during those times, African Americans held their conservatism. Furthermore, during these times of conservatism are when African Americans were at their height. These are the times of the develpment of jazz music, the Harlem Renesaince, black poetry, literature, and art.
During these times, in Greenwood Oklahoma, a collection of black business men had created a thriving town, laden with supermarkets, movie theaters, hospitals, the works. After being strategically bombed burned, and razed down by the U.S Military, it would later be called Black Wall Street. It is during our historical stretch of conservatism, here, on this nation that we, as a nation ourselves, were at our best.
What, then, caused African Americans to stray away from conservative values, and to uphold liberal one’s? The first reason, I’d argue, is simple: Franklin Delano Rosevelt. This president, in the 1950s, offered African Americans a “New Deal.” And this new deal came packed with federal assistance programs, federal this, and federal that. Upon this drastic shift of ideology from conservatism to liberalism, African Americans suffered a gradual, yet steady decline economically, and, more important, socially.
Before I move to the second reason, let us ask first what exactly conservative values call for, and what liberal values call for. Conservative values, more or less, in all of its forms, seeks to preserve tradition. It tends, unless absolutely necessary, to shun change. And liberal values, of course, seek to do the opposite. It seeks to invite change. Liberalism adores freedom, with such passion, it could never tie itself down to tradition. Its tradition is freedom.
And this brings me to the second reason for African Americans flight from conservative values: the thought of freedom. To a group of people who in American history have been through chattel slavery, Jim crow laws, segregation, etc, the notion of freedom, in her grace, is no doubt an appeasing reason to side with a political faction. Oftentimes, what people forget, however, about the notion of freedom is, if humans are free, then they are not bound to notions such as good or evil, wrong or right.
True freedom means these things do not exist. No one, in other words, in their freedom, is bound to morals. And, unfortunately, it is because of freedom that the Democrats, a.k.a. the white liberals, though in those days they were called the confederate army, waged a civil war against the federal government. They, the confederate army, believed truly and deeply in their hearts that by emancipating the slaves the federal government had violated their freedom.
In their rebel hearts, they believed that they were Free to own slaves, Free to take another humans freedom. And, indeed, that is a heavy paradox. But enough of this. At any rate, further, we must inquire upon the obvious economical and social decline that appears to have been triggered by the shift in political ideologies. Because conservative values called for tradition, i.e, sticking close to ancestral values, close to ancestral wisdom, African Americans, in complying to these conservative standards, progressed substantially.
This is a period where economically they are developing strength by “conserving” money and by loaning and shopping with each other. This is a time, socially, when the Black family, church, and bank are strong and closely knit. On the contrary, because liberal values call for change, and on most occasions tend to shape shift, out of this ambiguous and unsteady structure, naturally African American institutions take a hit. The first hit is an economic one.
In liberalism, standards like saving money are rare. Rather than conserve, to be liberal with money means to spend it. And if one never saves money while they are provided an income, if they lose their income, they’ll be devastated. Devestation turns to stress; to remedy stress, it turns to drugs; to remedy losing an income, it turns to selling drugs. And, there goes the community!
The second hit is a social one. Because liberalism invites New ideas, New ways of life, and new institutions, eventually for African Americans everything is flipped upside down, and nothing is concrete. And from this stems the gradual decline of the Black family, black church, education, etc. For African Americans, in short, the same way moisture breaks through concrete, the moist freedom of liberalism broke through the concrete foundation of conservatism. And, from the looks of modern African American communities, the pothole is rapidly evolving into a dark abyss.
Although Wakanda is most certainly an attractive African Utopia, its just not real. Yet, even so, in Africa’s rich, deep history, Africans have not only been the pioneers of advanced civilizations, they have been symbols of excellence. The Egyptian civilization, some scholars have estimated, lasted for some six hundred thousand years. The Nubian , Zulu, Malian, Asante, and Dogon Empires all had a history that even back in their time of existence was considered ancient. These African nations designed the map for successful society.
For, the longevity of their cultures were preserved by their practice of devout conservatism, and maintaing the honor and integrity of their ancestors. Their decline, no doubt, is rooted in conquest, betrayal, and defeat. In addition, however, it is once these civilizations decide to change their ideas and to become liberal in their ways of life that their nations ignited decline.
And so I wonder, what if we had stayed conservatives? It is certainly the political tradition of African ancestry. Even while suffering slavery, African ancestors here on American soil remained dedicated and loyal to their traditions, to their ancestors.
What if African Americans, today, had stuck to tradition, and scarcely veered away from ancestral wisdom? Would we be similar to the fictional Wakandans? Would we be, at least, somewhat on our way there? Would our minds, would our unity, would our loyalty form a kingdom? I like to think it would. WAKANDA forever!