Thursday, April 10, 2008

What Is The Difference Between an Urban Conservative and Black Republican? by Akindele Akinyemi

Oftentimes I am confronted with the burning question. What is the difference between a urban conservative and a Black Republican? The answer is simply this.

Urban conservatism is a philosophy and a way of life. Urban conservatism is a philosophy that is based on life. It is not just based on Republican principles but Godly principles that are aimed to help rebuilding what is lost in our community. As we internalize conservative consciousness from urban conservatism, we transform our thoughts, words and actions to conform to the balance needed to protect and resurrect our community. We ascend the spiritual ladder of transformation through the cycles of life, rising to the level of perfection where the body becomes one with the soul when we are ready to connect with those who are willing to accept change.

A Black Republican, on the other hand, is an individual that votes along the lines of the traditional Republican Party. A Black Republican's viewpoints can range from liberal to ultra-conservative depending on an individual's experience or immediate environment. Some Black Republicans are very conservative because they have been exposed or involved in the military. Some Black Republicans vote more liberal policies due to their environment in the inner city.

So what should we call ourselves? Black Republicans or urban conservatives?

First, regardless of what you may call yourself we better realize that we are all American citizens first. We should enjoy the freedoms that we have here in the United States. I am not so gung-ho about dropping African in front of American (i.e. African-American) because I am a Nigerian-American. I take pride in my roots, culture and heritage and appreciate what God has shown me in my life. I reach out to other Nigerians as well as other people across the African Diaspora.

Second, realize that all Black people are not monolithic thinkers.

The way I explain the concept of urban conservative to people is simply this. I am a urban conservative who vote and practice Republican politics. Conservative values is what I embrace because of my lifestyle. That can fall under anyone who calls themselves a Democrat or Republican.

However, why should we not embrace one another because of some labels? Sometimes, I feel labels is what separate us instead of bringing our ideas together. I have often heard people in the Republican Party say that all Democrats are tax and spend liberals in Detroit when that is far from the truth. I have heard Democrats call us racists and if you are a Black Republican we are Uncle Toms. All labels and name calling will not bring our region together.

Republican organizations as well as Democratic organizations in this region have not done a good job as a whole in educating the masses on civic education as well as understanding our Constitution because we do not practice what we preach. Both political parties have failed to reach the masses. People are more confused about who to vote for as well as understanding what to vote for in this year's elections. I am more interested in global affairs across the African Diaspora than dealing with the party bickering here in Michigan. A Democrat or Republican is not going to make me stop going to school, make money or educate our children.

To tell you the honest truth I am a Republican not just because of the political principles of the group but from a historical perspective. I understand the historical relationship between Blacks and the Republican Party. What liberals will say to me is the Republican Party has moved away from helping Blacks and are nothing but a good ol' boys network. I still ask this question how do you know the Republican Party do not work when Blacks in Detroit have never tried us to begin with? We have had 50 years of the Democratic Party in our city and we still have the same problems as we a did when Black Power took over the city in 1973 with the election of Coleman A. Young.

What drew me to become an urban conservative who vote Republican?

1. Education. Most Republicans I know embrace educational options more so than Democrats.

2. Family policies. Most Republicans I know embrace shared equal parenting, revising the Friends of Courts in Michigan and embrace moral values by NOT separating church and state.

3. Economic policies. Most Republicans I know embrace free market principles when it comes to economic policies.

4. Urban policies. Republicans DO have a urban policy but we never hear about it because the Black Press refuses to hear the other side of the spectrum.

However, young people who run on a Democratic ticket for state representative, county commissioner or city council may have a more moderate to conservative platform or agenda in a area like Detroit. For example, how come Republicans will not get behind a young, African-American female who support the same, exact issues we have? Because we have allowed the "Democratic" label to blind us from getting our voices heard. There are several young, African American candidates that have personally called me for help. Not just because I am an urban conservative who vote Republican but they read my articles and have embraced urban conservatism as their platform as well. They have to run as Democrats in this city because Republicans (both Black and White) are afraid to promote true civic education in the inner-cities in Michigan to educate people on the history of both parties. If we were already doing this to make people think people in Detroit would vote on both sides of the aisle to create political balance.

To be honest, I always train and consult young candidates on the Democratic side here in Detroit on issues and policy because most of them are new to the experience. You can mold and shape them faster than someone over 45 years of age. This year would be a grand time for other Republicans to join me in terms of hands-on civic education and training. Instead of putting your energy in a McCain race spread yourself by assisting with others to help revitalize our urban communities. But what I am seeing is people are trapped in their comfort zone. With the double homicide of a married couple in Allen Park, the double homicide of a Indian couple in Troy and the beheading of a Redford man no community in Michigan is safe from criminal activity. That's why our regions must work hand in hand to create a new vision and actually executing that vision. All of this stems from education.

Meanwhile, how come Democrats will not support educational reform measures coming from a Republican? I mean, do the teacher unions control the party that much? And for the record, the Michigan Educational Association gives money to BOTH sides of the aisle so it is not about partisan politics but reforming public policies that will work for all citizens. You have a large number of Republicans in Lansing that do not support charter schools or homeschooling but will tell you to fix the failing public schools. We call these people RINOs (Republican In Name Only).

Personally, I think our fight is in the wrong direction. We should be fighting to restore our moral values and instill new ideologies in our city not partisan politics. More and more people are becoming independent for the wrong reasons. Running from a crisis is not the way you solve a problem but tackling the issue will forge results. Too many Blacks are running from the Republican or Democratic Party because they feel that they do not have a voice. These same Blacks who are seeking to be recognized are seeking the wrong things from the Party.

If you belong to a organization that is not doing anything month in and month out then think about setting up a focus group that will help people mobilize in the community.

On a personal level you will never see me cry about the Republican Party because I know they use sound bites to try to swing voters. Most of the leadership in the Republican Party have a "one size fits all" solution. For example, our problems in Livingston County are the same problems we face in Detroit. While some problems may be similar our solutions are going to be different. Why? The demographics, economics and socialization are opposite in both communities.

The debate should not be whether or not we call ourselves Black Republicans, Democrats or urban conservatives but what type of policies are we going to mobilize around to help develop our communities? If Blacks continue to wait around for the Democratic or Republican Parties to bail them out politically then we will be waiting on disappointment.

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