With such a touchy subject I suppose I should start by asking a very important question. What is a sellout? By the account of three different dictionaries a sellout is a person who betrays a cause or group; or his or her personal values for money or personal advancement. So to be a sellout one must receive something advantageous in exchange for who or what is betrayed. A mere breaking rank with those to whom you once followed or agreed with cannot suffice as selling out. To arrive at a different social vision, through experience or knowledge, than the prevailing vision of your race or peers is not adequate to be deemed a sellout. The word sell which makes up part of the term indicates there must be the presence of personal gain in exchange for what or whom you betray. Whether that be a trail of money or a trail of fortuitous events that have been afforded you in exchange for your betrayal, there is always something to show for selling out. So when a person or persons are labeled sellouts there should be something they have received for doing so. I would think that is a definition anyone could agree upon. Which brings me to the question I pose in the title because no one can seem to pin point what a black person receives advantageously, in this present culture, for being conservative. I hardly think you can count demonization, isolation, and name calling as advantageous. Well wishes are hardly the first thing a black conservative meets with upon the announcement of their political ideology, with the sharpest denunciations coming from liberal blacks. Yet the term sellout is bantered about as a one size fits all description of any black person who doesn’t happen to march in lock step with the democrat mantra. But most if not all of these uses of the term sellout, to describe conservative blacks, is never accompanied by any hard evidence of personal advantage they receive, which is necessary for the term to be applicable. Conservative blacks are even met with stinging accusations of not being a “real black person” if they cast a vote on the republican side of the political ledger. As if being black were a matter of ideological conformity and not a matter of birth. But if being black is based on adherence to a sociopolitical idea and not genetic inheritance then we as a race have put our livelihood in a position to be manipulated by whoever creates and controls the ideology. In essence we take our racial identity out of the hands of God and make it vulnerable to the self-interest of men. To state it even more plainly we become a race of people whose Identity is shaped by the vision of liberal democrats and black elites who use race to promote their own political agendas.
Black conservatives may draw the ire from their democrat brothers and sisters but dislike is still no premise to promiscuously pin the sellout tag on any black conservative. Most if not all black conservatives have a tremendous love for their race. They just have a different perspective of what is in their race’s best interest. And since there are competing theories of what is in the best interest of blacks on the left and the right these theories should be tested empirically. That is to say they should be judged by their results not by which one is the most popular or self righteously appealing. For truly anyone who has the best interest of any people group at heart would concern themselves with following up on whether their ideas are producing the fruit they say they desire. Far too often results are at the bottom of the list when it comes to race and politics. The story of former Washington D.C. Mayor Adrien
Fenty, a black man, illustrates this point. During Mayor Fenty’s first term he set out to make things better for D.C. He appointed a new police chief who cracked down on corruption and crime and saw homicide drop 28% bringing the murder rate down to its lowest point in decades.
He also appointed Michelle Rhee as chancellor of the public school system. They were successful in firing 23% of the low-performing teachers in the school system and developed incentives for teachers to perform at a higher level by rewarding those who were getting positive results. All of which resulted in rising test scores for students and the stoppage of a constant slide of academic performance in D.C. that has been well documented now for decades. But these positive results alone were not enough to win him reelection nor was it enough to win over his black brothers and sisters as 80% of their vote went to his opponent. However since his opponent was black as well, and both men were democrats, the subject of race and party was mute. What is even more telling is the fact that 70% of the white vote was cast for Fenty along with a hefty amount of support from republicans. So what could cause such polarization around a mayor who got good results? It is well documented that Mayor Fenty spent little time pandering to the black political elite nor did he toe the party line in his approach to education reform and crime. He simply aimed for results by appointing the best people for the job. Neither of which happened to be black. The police chief Cathy Lanier is white and Michelle Rhee is Asian. These choices served to become lightning rods in a city steeped in racial quid pro quo and favoritism. Never mind the fact that their children were learning and living in a safer environment; liberal blacks were angry they weren’t getting their piece of the pie. I would hope we could agree, that when we’re defining the term sellout and determining to what group of blacks it may apply, those who put their own sociopolitical well-being above the education and safety of their children would be at the top of the list. Not black conservatives.