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Walter Hudson

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March 7, 2013 - 7:00 am

Republican.

My conservatism caught me by surprise.

While raised in the peculiar isolation of Jehovah’s Witnesses by a white mother and a black father, politics was as elusive as birthday celebrations and gifts on Christmas morning (prohibited by JW theology). In elementary school, as other children would cover their hearts and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I stood silent with my hands at my side. Participation in the political system of men was a betrayal of the kingdom of God, or so I had been taught. I therefore had little frame of reference for, or interest in, the political discourse.

I thus came into middle school ripe for indoctrination. My first impression of the major political parties was imprinted by a social studies teacher who explained as a matter of fact that Republicans were the party of the rich and powerful while Democrats were the party of the little guy. That settled it. Lacking in wealth and power as I was, if I was ever to be political, I was clearly to be a Democrat. Thus guided, I dutifully cast my ballot in the mock election of 1992 for the well-coifed champion of we little people – Bill Clinton.

In the years that followed, something happened which my teachers did not intend. I enrolled in my state’s postsecondary enrollment options program, and came to spend half the day at a local community college. My schedule was such that I drove between my high school and the college right when a certain talk radio personality took to the air. In a way, listening to Rush Limbaugh proved a form of youthful rebellion. My curiosity was aroused by leftist characterizations of the man as a bigoted hate-monger. Surely, listening to the rantings of a modern-day Klansman would prove entertaining.

You can fill in the rest of the story. What Limbaugh had to say on those daily drives to college proved more enlightening than what I was offered in class. I was not converted so much as matched with the ideology I implicitly held.

As I came of age politically, the reality of being a black conservative was no more isolating than being a Jehovah’s Witness. I had grown used to being a minority within a minority, the odd guy out, and having to routinely explain myself to others. While I eventually dropped the religion, I maintained its contentment with abnormality. As a result, I did not endure quite the same trials which many other black conservatives do when they reveal their values to a community enthralled by liberation theology.

Nevertheless, life as a black conservative has granted me insight into the plight facing those who stand up for what they believe in. Here are 5 tips for coming out as a black conservative.

5) Realize That “Conservatives” Are the Modern Radicals

Everything your teachers taught you about the political spectrum is wrong. I use the term “conservative” out of necessity, as a shorthand to convey generally which side of the given spectrum I am on. However, in truth, we on the political Right find ourselves less conservative and more radical each day. By that I mean we seek change from the status quo to a new paradigm. Indeed, those commonly thought of as liberal are the real conservatives by a strict definition, striving to maintain and expand establishments of coercion and cronyism. Thus so many among the rank-and-file have been disillusioned by President Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on “hope” and “change,” because he really stands for much more of the same.

“Conservative” and “liberal” are always relative terms. The founding fathers were liberal in the classic sense, though their ideology is today thought reactionary. They dramatically elevated their new nation from underneath a centuries-long rule of men to a newly conceived rule of law. Once that vision was established, the effort to maintain it could be called conservative. However, as the “center” of the political discourse has moved further to the statist Left over the past century, we have abandoned the rule of law for a repackaged rule of men. That leaves those on the Right, we who seek limited government constituted to protect the rights of individuals, as radicals amidst a sea of leftist reactionaries seeking to drag us back to the dark age.

This is important for you to realize as you come out of the political closet and reveal your values, because you will be cast as a self-hating negro who seeks the comfort of the master’s house. Fellow blacks will call you reactionary, even as they snuggle at the feet of Democratic patrons begging for rations.

4) Find Contentment in Abnormality

If you are going to come out as a black conservative, you must find peace as a minority of one. In his article “The Loneliness of a Black Conservative,” Shelby Steele artfully conveys the plight awaiting you:

The problem for the black conservative is more his separation from the authority of his racial group than from the actual group. He stands outside a group authority so sharply defined and monolithic that it routinely delivers more than 90 percent of the black vote to whatever Democrat runs for president. The black conservative may console himself with the idea that he is on the side of truth, but even truth is cold comfort against group authority (which very often has no special regard for truth). White supremacy focused white America’s group authority for three centuries before truth could even begin to catch up. Group authority is just as likely to be an expression of collective ignorance as of truth; but it is always, in a given era, more powerful than truth.

All of this is made worse by the fact that black Americans have been a despised minority surrounded by indifference and open hatred. An individual’s failure of group love is a far greater infraction among blacks because it virtually allies that individual with the enemy all around. An Uncle Tom is someone whose failure to love his own people makes him an accessory to their oppression. So group love (in one form or another) is a preoccupation in black life because of the protective function it serves, because we want to use the matter of love as a weapon of shame and thus as an enforcer of conformity. Love adds the seriousness and risk to nonconformity.

Read the whole piece. Steele describes how the rod of shame is used with great success to herd blacks into a prescribed mold. In coming out of your political closet, you are defying that mold and inviting discipline. There is no getting around it. It must be endured. The ostracizing Steele recounts serves as a modern fire hose turned upon advocates of liberty.

Don’t fear muppets.

3) Cultivate an Unassailable Self-Esteem

As you might imagine, the shaming of black conservatives knows no bounds. Prepare to have your very blackness called into question. Your detractors will reveal race to be more a system of belief than a physical description. Prepare for accusations of bigotry, as irrational as such claims may prove. Prepare to have your credentials ignored, your intelligence mocked, and your accomplishments dismissed. Prepare to lose friends, opportunities, and respect.

As Steele notes, “truth is cold comfort.” Nevertheless, take what solace you can from the fact that your chosen values are rational. Personal attacks are so prevalent from the Left because, in the end, ad hominem is all they have. Their arguments fail objective analysis, leaving ridicule and marginalization as the only available weapons. However, as a weapon, ridicule is uniquely flawed in that its victim must consent to the assault. Don’t provide that consent. An adult does not flinch from the insults of a child, but rebukes immaturity with authority. You’ll find children come in all ages.

Realize that ridicule is at root an expression of insecurity, an eruption of vitriol from a caldron of cognitive dissonance. Pity your attackers. They walk away from your encounter as impotent as they came, refusing the insight you graciously offer. Is this arrogance on your part? Not at all. Arrogance is pride unearned. You are right, and you objectively know it. The arrogance is theirs.

Ever wonder why we talk to each other sideways?

2) “Cheat Out” Your Arguments

In a theatrical play on a common proscenium stage, actors must conscientiously present themselves to the audience, standing at an angle to each other which would be awkward and unnatural in real life. This is called cheating out, and reigns as perhaps the most common note given to student and amateur performers. Even though actors engage each other in dialogue as though no one else were watching, cheating out acknowledges those seated beyond the invisible fourth wall as the true intended audience.

So it is in our political discourse. It proves sadly true that the vast majority of opponents you engage in argument will never be converted to your position. Accepting this futility removes “winning the argument” as a reasonable goal. Instead, tussles with those among the Left serve one of two purposes. Private discussions act as reconnaissance, revealing what your opponent believes and why he believes it. In public debates, whether formal or impromptu, the intent is to convince onlookers.

Some time ago, I was invited to speak about the Tea Party to a public audience at a college campus known for its leftist bias. There was an outburst and walkout during my presentation. The subsequent question-and-answer session exposed me to profoundly hostile criticism. I endured, none the worse for wear. Afterward, I was tepidly approached by a young man who confessed in hushed tones that he appreciated what I had to say. His sentiment was delivered with all the caution one might expect from a resistance courier working through an enemy occupation. He was my audience that day, the until then unknown purpose of my visit. You never know who you may be connecting with.

1) Keep Thinking Independently

Were my complete philosophy to be splayed before everyone I know, were it to be translated into a platform, it is unlikely anyone would fully support it. Social conservatives would flinch from my distinction between sin and crime. Libertarians might object to my stance on foreign policy. Surely, my objectivist friends would scoff at my Christian faith. I don’t fit into a convenient category. In fact, I’ve spent a great deal of time defining my own.

When you come out of the closet as a black conservative and thus abandon your group identity, you may be tempted to find another to replace it. Human beings legitimately crave companionship. However, a sense of belonging attained by compromising principle is false and unfulfilling.

Independent thinking got you here. Independent thinking will keep you going. Group identity, or more specifically the group authority Shelby Steele writes about, degenerates into herd instinct in the unthinking. Individual rights can only be effectively defended by those who have rejected any claim upon their life. You do not belong to anyone. Your life is yours. Your mind is yours. Direct it intentionally. Choose what you believe and know why you believe it. Never let someone else, anyone else, tell you what you must think or do. By all means, consider trusted advice, but take responsibility for your decisions once made.


A new generation of black activists must reclaim the civil rights movement and pursue true equality under the law. To do so, they will need to confront the cultural monolith of black entitlement. The large victories in this culture war will be preceded by hundreds and thousands of quiet coups by individuals like you. It may sometimes seem a lonely path. However, in stepping from conformity’s warmth and comfort, you will stand in good company alongside history’s abolitionists and legitimate civil rights leaders. When the tomes of history are written, such deviants grace its pages.

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words and co-hosts the weekly podcast Liberty Tree Radio. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Walter, THANK YOU for writing this piece. First of all, let me start out by kindling with your transition. I was raised Jehovah's Witness myself but stopped going when I was twelve. I won't go into anymore other than that.

I've already stated that my conservative transition started when I began to question some of liberalism's tenets. For example when I basically said a hateful thing to a white person (sins of the father for white folks) I knew right there that I was in the wrong and not him. Once I began to question that I began to question everything else about liberalism. Over time I just decided it was not right for me and began to look into conservativism.

What a refreshing change! I found a set of principles that were more in line with my own. All five of those points you listed are very key but the most important is the last one. It's not so much about self-esteem that is important but self-respect. This is why I post under my actual name and not under a pseudonym: I have come to embrace my conservative views and I want those in the background to know that it is a real person that is putting out these views (no offense to those who like to use pseudonyms). I want others to become comfortable with their own conservatism and question against things that have been told to them since they were young.

I've been ridiculed more times than I can count. And Black liberals do not like the fact that a Black conservative is willing to challenge their owned warped views. It'd be nice that it was you, not Ta-Nahisi Coates, that got the opportunity to write for the NYT. Keep up the good work.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I will never make the claim that someone's race invalidates their opinion. I've been known to express an opinion or two related to womanhood, and that's okay.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This may reveal my utter stupidity, but the journey you describe seems to be the one we all must take if we are to seek truth in our lives. It’s not a black/white thing, but a human thing. I am blind to the added element of exclusion from the group.

Your writing about what could be a difficult subject is clear, concise and unemotional.

More please.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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Walter,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You give me hope that there may be a different outcome to our country's story than the slow march to socialism that I fear.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"My first impression of the major political parties was imprinted by a social studies teacher who explained as a matter of fact that Republicans were the party of the rich and powerful while Democrats were the party of the little guy. "

My son was taught that by TWO teachers just this year. He goes to a school of mostly Asian immigrants (Indian and Chinese). One of the students asked the teacher what the difference between Republicans and Democrats is. The teacher replied that Democrats want to help the poor and are for world peace, Republicans just want to make the rich people richer and start wars. This was repeated in another classroom, too. (Language Arts and Social Studies). The new voters in the 2016 election are 12 years old today. This stuff makes a difference. We have teachers actively engaged in political indoctrination.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Black conservatives are the bravest and most intelligent people around! What Walter says applies to everyone: it takes integrity and strength of character to choose to live in Truth. Eventually, however, the Truth sets us free.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Moral authority, not popularity, is what will empower you.

The key is simple, do the right thing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You write with such clarity and your very nuanced description of your experience rings with new insight into the nature of authority and its misuses. How ridicule works as it functions to redirect the cognitive dissonance of its executor is priceless and makes clear the process of projection. Thanks for this; your personal take has universal application.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As I have done before, I strongly recommend Shelby Steele's marvelous book, "White Guilt." In it, he states clearly that those blacks who refused to embrace the white guilt philosophy were ostracised at the time. They still are. I am old enough to remember when many of the parents of my black classmates were Republican.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Congrats on leaving 2 cults!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mr Hudson,

AWESOME piece. Thank you.

Admittedly I'd gotten choked up when reading the portion of your speaking engagement at the college campus and the 1 brave man '..was my audience that day'.

Like you'd said, he indeed can be consider a 'radical'.

A very poignant, much needed discussion.

~ Cheers
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What a great and clear text! Thank you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Walter,
thanks for this piece. I read the Shelby Steele piece. Both excellent articles. It's sad that the politics of race keeps minorities from being truly free. You can never be free until you are willing to stand alone and take total responsibility for yourself. I'm white. I'll never completely understand the monolithic nature of the black voting bloc. But it sickens me to see generations of children who are taught to be dependent on handouts rather than that they can achieve and be builders and leaders.

"Up to a point a man's life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, 'this I am today, THAT I shall be tomorrow.' The wish, however, must be implemented by deeds."
Louis L'amour, The Walking Drum

Walter, sometimes it's lonely to be a man. But a man is exactly what you are. I'd walk into a firefight with you any day.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Your comment reminds me of Iron Maiden's, 'Runnin' Free' song.

Perhaps all the more so with Iron Maiden's original drummer, Clive Burr passing away yesterday from his bout with MS.

~ Cheers

\m/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I didn't start getting into rock until after Afghanistan, so I had to look that one up. I'm definitely adding Iron Maiden to the "must buy" list. You're right about that song. It made me think of a couple other good L'amour quotes:

A man shares his days with hunger, thirst, and cold, with the good times and the bad, and the first part of being a man is to understand that.

To disbelieve is easy; to scoff is simple; to have faith is harder.

My future is one I must make myself.

There is no miraculous change that takes place in a boy that makes him a man. He becomes a man by being a man.

We accept the verdict of the past until the need for change cries out loudly enough to force upon us a choice between the comforts of further inertia and the irksomeness of action.

A man who says he has never been scared is either lying or else he's never been any place or done anything.

Being scared can keep a man from getting killed, and often makes a better fighter of him.

It is better to have no emotion when it is work. Do what needs to be done, and do it coolly.

Victory is won not in miles, but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later win a little more.

He never knew when he was whipped ... so he never was.

Any man can shoot a gun, and with practice he can draw fast and shoot accurately, but that makes no difference. What counts is how you stand up when somebody is shooting back at you.

I read a lot of his stuff when I was growing up, it kind of stuck with me. Since Afghanistan I've gotten back into it. From any other writer a lot of this stuff would seem trite, but he grew up around fronteirsmen and worked as a cattle skinner, hay baler, miner, miller, prizefighter, drifter, soldier, tanker, trucker, commander, and merchant mariner. He knew people and he knew life. So these quotes stick; they came from a man who had been around.

Anyway, like I said, being a man is lonely. But I couldn't stomach begging for table scraps from the government to feed my family.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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