My Open Letter to Conservatives
Conservative Black Man
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Very well done and I commend you for putting this out there. I’d like to question a few of your perceptions though. Just open dialogue, no judgement, no bias.

If you had never identified yourself as a Black Man, and just as a Conservative American citizen, then this essay would have been interpreted completely differently. You state that Whites are in the position of power by virtue of our position atop the mountain but we (modern society) don’t feel like we’re atop any mountain (at least I don’t). I’ve always felt I was climbing just as everyone else around me (regardless of skin color). I’ve slipped, fallen, been scraped up, hit with the rocks from above and below… but never gave up and felt like I could not keep climbing. I can say that I’ve never (and doubtfully ever will) stand at the top. That doesn’t absolve me of trying to keep climbing and helping others along the way (again, regardless of skin color).

Some context… I grew up in a single parent household with just my mom and me, making it the best way she knew how. We moved quite often in my adolescent years and I can recall going from living in housing projects where I was one of only two white kids in the neighborhood, to living WAY out in the sticks renting an old (1800’s) farmhouse where our source of water was a hand-dug well, to finally moving back to the “family” tobacco farm when I was 11 and transferring to a school system that was half rural/half urban (rich kids from the local university). I never really fit in with a clique or group… always an outsider looking in. The school had it’s share of race-baiting rednecks waving the Confederate flag about as if they knew anything of its history or the implications. I always stood from afar and watched as one group or another would belittle each other for what seemed like trivial, non-nonsensical reasons. With all the other (larger) problems in the World at the time (Cold war, Apartheid, Communism, and extremist terrorism) why were Americans arguing over such stupidity as the color of each other’s skin? I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now.

It’s utterly ridiculous to me as we all bleed red and are judged by the virtues of our heart and mind’s intentions by God. Racism is a learned behavior… we are not born racist. Two babies born side by side, one white, the other black have no inkling that they look different to each other… No, it’s not until society and our familial connections instill a sense of identity based on skin color, class, societal acceptance, etc… when we “identify” and begin to feel any sense of social pressure to conform, one way or another.

I don’t know any white people that walk up to each other and call each other a racial epithet to identify. I’ve never felt I needed to identify with others by taking pride in the color of my skin; you would probably call this implicit bias or white privilege but really it’s inconsequential in the grand scheme of life. I’ve lived in those neighborhoods where all my friends were Black and we just ALL made do with the little we had around. Making forts in the crawl spaces of project housing and playing tag in urban woods between apartment houses, sharing toys and dodge balls, et al…

It pains me to see so much angst between humans of different skin color to feel like that characteristic needs to define them, that they must instill a sense of self and/or pride based on something that, inevitably, will create conflict from that self-identification. So long as people and cliques continue to identify based on color of skin rather than the content of their soul… of their moral character, then we ( all of humanity) will forever be resigned to social competition and sidelined/delayed from making real progress for the good of all humanity.

I will never forget my Drill Instructor’s words to me in Boot Camp. “You are no longer the color of your skin that God gave you. Look left, then right; you are all Army Green.” He was right (All 6 feet-9 inches of his Alabama Blackness) He terrified me, and it wasn’t from the color of his skin so much as from the brim of his campaign hat hovering millimeters from the bridge of my nose.

But I digress… I’ve traveled this World far and wide. From being stationed in Japan for three years, deployed all over SE Asia and over to the Gulf more than once. In all those countries, in every culture where I was clearly the minority and out of my comfort zone; I never felt above or below anyone else. I felt humbled to see the kindness bestowed on strangers visiting a foreign land (that included me and my Black, Philipino, and Asian peers). The media pundits and talking heads have skewed our World view to such an extent that is laughable and seriously stupid.

We should all be focusing on the big issues that face this entire planet… fossil fuel emissions, choking levels of carbon dioxide, monoxide and lowered oxygen levels, rising sea levels in every continent, an inordinate amount of plastic trash piling up on land and forming floating islands in every body of water. Space trash and debris orbiting overhead, falling to Earth without warning or control (look up the Chinese Space Station they’ve lost control of)… Hunger, overpopulation, homelessness, all of these are indifferent to the color of a person’s skin and they will not be fixed by anyone one race over another.

I’m registered as an Independent voter because, as you stated; “ Conservatives need more compassion and understanding. They need to understand why that rock hurts so much more when thrown from the top of that mountain. “We don’t do feelings,” you’ll tell me, “that’s what Liberals do.” I agree. Feelings don’t work for policy, but they work when we deal with each other in the real world.”

No… change, REAL change, does not come from extreme Right nor Left; extreme Conservatism nor Liberalism… it comes from meeting in the middle. It comes from compromise and adaptation to a dynamic environment that we all have to share. United We Stand; Divided We Fall is not just a catchy phrase in our history. Peace be with you and your family.

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