Wednesday, August 4, 2021
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Black Like Me

A change?

By Peter Kirsanow

A recent Associated Press story cites several prominent black conservatives as being “conflicted” about for Barack Obama for president. While each of the conservatives acknowledges ideological differences with Obama, the prospect of a black president makes it, in the words of radio-talk-show host Armstrong Williams, “hard to vote against [Obama in November.” The article quotes only one person, however, who will actually support Obama — the self-described moderate John McWhorter. The rest of the interviewees (with the exception of Michael Steele, who says he’ll do everything in his power to defeat Obama) are undecided, expressing sentiments similar to Williams: “I can honestly say that I have no idea who I am going to pull that lever for in November. And to me, that’s incredible.”

Incredible indeed. For even if one acknowledges that in this historic election it’s perfectly understandable that racial pride may have a profound influence, the fact that any conservative, regardless of ancestry, would vote for Obama demonstrates an impressive tolerance for question for many conflicted black conservatives is whether the benefits of having a black president outweigh the risks of having a liberal one.

For black conservatives, the potential benefits of having a black president are perhaps best summarized by McWhorter, who has written extensively and eloquently on issues pertaining to race in America: “I want him to get in because, in a way, it will put me out of a job.” Actor Joseph C. Phillips adds, “I am wondering if this is the time when we get over the hump, where an Obama victory will finally, at long last, move us beyond some of the old conversations about race.”


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