My Open Letter to Conservatives
Conservative Black Man

Compassion is nice, but I’d rather see some justice. Compassion requires the other person to have a waking up moment, and you can’t force that, cajole it, reason it, or educate it into a person. It requires the other person to change, to be willing to step down from their privilege for no other reason than *it’s the right thing to do.* Many people will choose not to go there, and that’s their option in a free country. But justice…now that’s something real. Black men getting the vote: justice. Women getting the vote: justice. A law prohibiting the Jim Crow laws that kept people of color from exercising their votes: justice. A law ending the “separate but equal” travesty of “education” that was provided to people of color in the south: justice. I applaud you for speaking so eloquently about the value and necessity of compassion, and you’re absolutely right. But the “compassionate conservatism” banner was flown fifteen years ago by G.W. Bush, and he was politely ignored by the rest of his “conservative” party, the banner forgotten in a dusty trash bin. Me, I’d like to see more justice, in the form of expanded opportunities for everyone, for access to higher education, access to small business loans, access to however far their skills and talent and drive can take them, without having to do it in a system that sets them so far back due to what neighborhood they grow up in, what schools they go to, how much money their parents make, or whether their parents finished high school — being far more decisive of that person’s future than what they could have contributed if all of those starting-out factors had been more favorable.

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