Black People Changing Political Parties: Free-Thinkers or Plantation Hoppers?

Black People Changing Political Parties: Free-Thinkers or Plantation Hoppers? November 3, 2018
Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

Black conservatism is not a new phenomenon. However, emerging stories suggest that more Black people are exiting the Democratic party, declaring their freedom from the plantation, in favor of becoming free thinkers by joining the Republican party.

For some time now, I have been observing this issue, and I think it demands a substantial analysis of the rhetoric that equates free-thinking with switching political parties.

Seems like a low bar for “free-thinking.”
In this post, I discuss four issues underlying the notion of switching to another political party as a move of “freedom” from a political plantation or “free-thinking.”

Note: This post is not a message to convince Black folks to stay Democrat, Republican, liberal, or conservative. This post draws from political behavior to illustrate an issue. 

1. The Act of Switching Does Not Equate to Freedom.

Switching political parties does not furnish substantial proof that a person is a free-thinking pioneer.
Shouldn’t we at least examine the kinds of thinking these individuals are doing post-switch?

Makes sense to me.

I do not write off a Black person who chooses to leave the Democrat party as a coon, Uncle Tom, sell-out, or any of the usual insults levied at Black people who do not subscribe to liberal group think.
Typically these responses are mean-spirited ploys to discourage Black people from thinking for themselves. On other occasions, the response is a well-placed critique housed within name-calling.

Similarly, I  notice how different self-proclaimed free-thinking Blacks come up short of their great title because they only point out issues within the Democratic party or with liberalism. They do little to no critical analysis of their newfound party and ideologies.

Instead of freedom, they have traded one ideological plantation for another.

I am of the belief that refusal to interrogate our perspectives is a sign of enslavement to whatever informs them.

2. Blind Allegiance is Neither Freedom or Awakening.

Let it be known: There is nothing “free-thinking” about blind allegiance to one political party. You can switch all day; a political party does not make one a more nuanced thinker.
And the Black folks who are claiming that it is the case regurgitate new talking points supplied by their political parties.
And I sigh.

Because they have realized that the Democratic Party is not Moses,  certain Black people think they have the whole truth and nothing but the truth in another party.

Help me, Gawd.
I just paused from writing to kneel on the floor, shake my fists in the air, to call out, “Why?”
Why do people think one political party holds all of the truth and solutions?

You see, all of us are asleep in different areas of our lives.
I feel incredibly uncomfortable with proclaiming myself as a “free-thinker” and “woke.” It suggests that I have arrived.
And I have not.
I am on a journey and process of awakening and freedom.
I genuinely believe we gain freedom by evaluating event the things we hold sacred, which is part of the reason why I am on a Bible sabbatical.

Yet, here is one thing I know for sure from this journey:
Lock-step allegiance to a political party does not provide  evidence of free-thinking.
It shows the opposite.

Unquestioning loyalty to any institution, be it political to religious, is not free-thinking.

While some people think you must deny all of these associations to be free-thinking, at this time, I exercise freedom to disagree.

Still, some Black people who proclaim their wokeness are actually sleep woke.
Other Black folks boast about taking the red pill (switching from Democrat to Republican) and thinking they have somehow cracked the Matrix, transcended the Matrix, entered the Matrix, whatever- a Republican version of “woke,” when they are actually experiencing a placebo effect.

So, we have sleep woke people who leave their party to become red pill woke. It is a battle of enslaved free-thinking.

Pioneers forge an uncommon path.

If you really want to walk on the wild side, plenty of political parties exist beyond the dominant two parties.

3. The Thinking Process Stays the Same.

I notice how different Blacks flock over to the Republican party, after becoming aware of the issues within the Democratic party and keep the same approach to thinking about the world.

Instead of expanding their ways of social inquiry, I notice that numerous individuals retain the same practice of identifying flaws in the other party, while blindly following their new master party. It is the same type of thinking process used before changing parties.

How are you supposed to be a political pioneer paving the way for good when you join a party and dare not question it?

I believe there is a strong likelihood that the moment these red pill Black folks rub White Republicans the wrong way by not toeing the line to preserve their feelings, particularly about race and religion, the people who welcomed these “free” Black people with open arms will treat them like the n-word without calling them one.

I guess Democrats are not the only ones who lash out when you do not fall in line.

I’m anti-sheeple activity to any party.

If you are truly about progress when you join the Republican party, wouldn’t you challenge them on the very things they ignore, in the same way that you question the Democratic party?

4. Both Parties are Guilty.

Black people who switch or remain in their parties ignore the fact that both Democrat and Republican Parties have been guilty in maintaining institutional racism.
I have voted both Democrat and Republican, and I can see strengths and weaknesses in both parties. Let’s very briefly explore how both parties can act as plantations.

Democrat Plantation

One can argue that people who have voted Democrat have indirectly supported racism.
Given that they have yet to eradicate institutional racism, Democrats have contributed to racism with policies, while possibly stringing along different groups of People of Color with crumbs of progress.

An example of promoting racism is former President Clinton’s crime policies.
Instead of stating, “We are going to target Black and Latino people,” Democrats used raceless language by giving harsher penalties to the demographics that tended to use and sell particular drugs. These were intentionally designed unfair sentencing practices.

The 100 to 1 sentencing disparity for crack vs. powder cocaine, for example, help create the inequities in the justice system that former President Obama noted.
As a result of these crime policies, we have Black and Latino people, the ones who tend to vote Democrat, adversely affected even more.

For some reason, many Democrats struggle with being able to simultaneously handle both issues of immigration and issues concerning Black people who are descendants of enslaved people from the United States.

The Democrats who want Black people to unquestioningly go along with any agenda are part responsible for Black people who are tired of feeling used.

Does the racism promoted and ignored by the Democratic party makes the Republican party the promise land? No.

Republican Plantation

Free-thinking Republicans point to Democrats about racist policies, but they fail to see how their track record with choosing White supremacy over People of Color.
The failure of many Republicans to challenge the often more overt forms of bigotry within their party makes it easier to identify their support of racism versus the ways Democrats support it.

Like Democrats, they revise history to fit their contemporary narrative.
For example, typically, free-thinking Republicans proclaim themselves as the party that was against chattel slavery.
They forget that Republicans helped  pave the way for the Jim Crow South with the Compromise of 1877 that ended Reconstruction.

The Republicans wanted the presidency so badly that they struck a deal with the Southern Democrats them to secure the presidential administration of Rutherford B. Hayes in exchange for removing federal troops that helped to protect civil and political rights of Blacks in the Post-Civil War South. Both Ulysses S. Grant and Hayes removed the troops, leaving Black people vulnerable in the South.

This informal deal was based on the word of southern Democrats that they would treat Black people fairly and justly. In other words, southern White racists gave a pinky promise, and that was enough for White Republicans.
Southern Democrats broke their word without consequence. Frankly, White Republicans sold out Black Republicans and turned their backs on them for decades, as Blacks suffered disenfranchisement and horrors of overt White supremacy in the Jim Crow South.

As a nod to the past, there has been an onslaught of blatant bigotry ignored by different Republicans who refuse to question or challenge their own party ways.

If Black people believe that Republicans’ contemporary push to disenfranchise People of Color, using tactics like voter suppression laws and gerrymandering, reveals their earnest desire to heal the racial divide and move the nation forward, they might want to consider to putting on their free-thinking caps instead of the red ones.

Closing: Do You Get It?

Do you get it?
You can support racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, xenophobia, homophobia, and any form of systemic oppression no matter what group you join.

You can join any political party and still directly or indirectly support racism in this world.

You can be Republican and racist.
You can be Democrat and racist.
You can be Libertarian and racist.
You can be Green Party and racist.
You can be nonpolitical and racist.

I find that the people affiliated with the two largest political parties, who question and challenge their party’s dominant rhetoric, do seem to not get as much media attention as the ones who walk as sheep following elephants and donkeys.

Switching across the two largest political parties do not seem to offer much help in rhetorical support for more nuanced conversations about social, political, and economic issues, as well.
It is possible to recognize both systemic oppression and identify our agency in the world. These parties typically make this issue an either-or binary instead of showing how we can expand our capacity to be able to hold both ideas without overwhelm.

Although both parties have merits, progress is not found in assuming inerrancy of one group and maintaining allegiance at all costs.

The People of Color within different parties who try to call the party into transformation are out there.
If you seek, you will find some people are striving to do more than spout off talking points.

If you are a Black person who chooses to go from blue to red, I encourage you to do the same by engaging in critical examination.
Just know, that as you keep thinking and questioning, you might not be able to justify remaining on a new plantation.

You might choose to be a pioneer by leaving the party or leading the change from within.

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  • fred5399

    OK One party takes advantage of you and the other party uses you as bogeyman to scare white folks. One party wants your votes ,the other suppresses your vote. One party believes in Matt 25, the other doesn’t know it’s in the Bible. One party says tolerate those who are different ,members of the other party says kill them. gee whats a guy to do?

  • @RaceandGrace

    Did you know that you are already doing something in your comment? 🙂 I get the sense that you are observing, comparing, and analyzing as the start of an inquiry about your life in relation to the world around you. Recognizing the limits of dominant ways of seeing the world, in particular to this case: U.S. politics and society, can feel unsettling. Why? Different parts of U.S. society have been socialized into believing a narrow and sometimes dichotomous ways to exist in the world. Consequently, the common rhetoric reflects it. I encourage you to keep questioning for yourself: What am I to do? I encourage you to let your question and your imagination continue to guide you into more inquiry. And part of the journey is getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable and not having quick and easy answers.

  • Barros Serrano

    The GOP is a bastion of white racism, that is very clear. The Democrats are far from perfect but that is where you’ll find most of the non-racist whites. I know we’re a minority among whites, but still we exist and we are rarely Republicans.

    Here in this central VA County black folks run the Democratic Party. The GOP here is full of white-rights who are obsessed with keeping Confederat statues in place (we are near Charlottesville but in a different county).

    I’d say to blacks who think the Democratic Party isn’t helping them… look at the policies of the 2 Parties. The Democrats attempt to implement policies which ARE good for the black community (and other non-whites). When does the GOP do ANYTHING to help anyone but rich whites, while suckering the workingclass whites to vote for them based on the SAME OLD tactic used in the Old South… whoever screams the N word the loudest gets elected.

    And keep in mind that the Democrats would win every national election if all the black people VOTED, which they do not. Oh they show up in droves when Obama is running, but otherwise, no. Think about that… if y’all would all VOTE in the %s the white-rights do, we wouldn’t have had Reagan, Dubya, Trumpolini, etc. THEY make sure to vote because they’re afraid of YOU! Then their candidates take office and screw blacks, Mexicans, even the white working class, women, the Earth… And I must add that this criticism applies to white Democrats who ALSO tend not to vote in the midterms.

    I along with some Mexican activists attempted to get govt assistance to bring legal action against discriminators in California, and was told that with a Republican in the White House (Bush I), there was little funding for enforcing anti-discrimination laws, that we would be unable to proceed until a Democrat was President.

    To those who object by pointing out that Clinton’s actions (welfare reform, prison policy) hurt black people, I say: 1. the GOP is worse; and 2. if you want to keep the Democrats honest, you have to be active and keep up the pressure on them.

    And vote in the mid-terms! If black people had turned out in 2010 they might have prevented the GOP takeover of Congress, and Obama might have made a lot more progress than he could with the GOP misfits obstructing his every move.

    Sorry, you may object to being lectured to by a white Democrat, but these are my opinions and I’m stating them freely because I am still, though retired, wanting to work to improve this country, and a big part of that means ENDING the entrenched white racism which continues to operate.

  • Barros Serrano

    THANK YOU for mentioning Matthew 25… I’ve been harping on that since the Vietnam War, trying to explain to Republicans that in their warmongering and racism they are offending Jesus. They usually respond by accusing me of being anti-Christian, lol…

    We’ve got such a long road to freedom still ahead of us… by we I mean all sane people.

  • Kwame Lazarus

    You are falling into the very trap the contributor of this article is mentioning. The pointing the finger at ‘the other party’ and the blame-game that lies at the heart of both mainstream political parties is what’s giving rise to the 3rd party and alternative political choices. I’ve worked with Democratic operatives here in Atlanta and almost all of them are opportunists to the core. They couldn’t care less about the poor and destitute except to feed them and gather buses to bring them to the polls. likewise, I’ve worked with a few Republicans who have made serious efforts to help destitute people who didn’t even vote for them. At this point I trust few and remain independent.