The Conservative Brotherhood lasted a good 4 or 5 years I guess. I started my blog 'Cobb' in '02 having retired from another project called Vision Circle. Vision Circle was my last attempt at advancing a Progressive anti-racist black partisan discussion on the web. It was good while it lasted and is archived nice and neat. As Lester Spence headed to big time academia, he had to scrub some of his provocations, and we never got the late lamented Prometheus Six to join up. But like I said, Vision Circle was a success.
Three nights, which I will meld into one, three things occurred to me.
Dr. Lou, an old family friend, gave me an updated 'by any means necessary' speech that said that the US respects the Japanese because the Japanese were ready to kill and die by the millions, and Japanese culture has nothing to do with that respect. It was Japanese blood and all of Japan's money in war. Black Americans consequently are absolute fools to think cultural nationalism could produce better results. The powers that be in America respect power. Black Americans were not, are not, and never will be ready for war.
Black Americans have politically put all of their eggs into one basket of political aims, despite the fact that real class differences (and economic, and cultural) exist among 30 odd million black Americans in 2003. Some fraction of those need to be working the other side of the aisle.
Black American patriots who wave the American flag were booed at the Sydney Olympics. If black Americans want to be and do become the best in the world, why are they hated, and when they are, who is going to defend them? There was, and is, a fundamental problem black Americans have with patriotism.
So my aim was to put a stake in the ground and assert two things.
The Civil Rights Movement is done, and won, and never going back. Black Americans are not going to be a race forever and their class distinctions will matter more. They need to be getting baksheesh from the American Right, not just welfare and pity from the American Left.
So I took Cobb, the most conservative sounding part of my name, registered Republican and started blogging about what the black Right was, is and should be. In the beginning, I started going to local Republican functions and discovering all of my stereotypes etc. I made efforts to understand the American Right and distinguish its various parts and pieces. I was very surprised at the diversity of black opinion on the Right. I never expected pure Christian social conservatives. I never expected pure Pro-Life advocates. I expected a lot of buppies and people like Vernon Jordan. I was wrong. Since my blog was fairly popular, I was able to meet with and invite all of the major black bloggers on the right. They all signed up. But some left after a short period, notably LaShawn Barber and Ambra Benjamin.
My aim was to identify and name the Old School black politics, culture and values that I had always heard had a 'natural' affiliation with the American Right. So I came up with some words that I figured a broad cross section of black Americans could deal with. My own insight and research kept telling me, some fraction of black Americans were always comfortable voting for local Republican candidates, and basically their biggest problem was the racism of the GOP and the Southern Strategy. So I'm like, OK let's be black and proud conservatives with no racism and see what happens. A lot happened. Thus the Old School Core Values: The Conservative Brotherhood is a group of African American writers whose politics are on the right hand side of the political spectrum. Expanding the dialog beyond traditional boundaries, they seek to contribute to a greater understanding of African Americans and America itself through advocacy and commentary.
Old School Core Values:
We are African Americans of all backgrounds and ethnicities. We are proud of our heritage, and respect the lives, triumphs and tribulations of our forebears in this country and beyond. We aim to represent their greatest hopes for us and honor their memory.
The United States of America is our home, not simply by default but by choice. We take our duty to our home seriously and we defend it. We seek to improve it by our work and values and leave it better than we found it.
We are extended families and we put family first. It is the primary organization to which our lives are dedicated. We fight for the proper upbringing of our children. We demand respect and consideration of our elders. We love and support our brothers and sisters.
We work twice as hard and sometimes get half as far, but we work with dignity and we expect and enjoy our rewards. We are not materialistic but we know the value of a dollar. We seek self-improvement through creativity, dedication and effort in our jobs, businesses and partnerships.
We have abiding faith in God and the principles of righteousness. We strive to be true to transcendent values and take the long view of our purpose on Earth. We conduct ourselves as vessels of spirit and we guard our own souls and the souls of others from corruption.
We believe in the rule of law and rights of people to be free and to determine their own fate. We fight tyranny and oppression of all kinds keeping in mind the battles of those who struggled and died that we might be free.
We believe in a tolerant and open society, and we welcome all people to enjoy its benefits and responsibilities.
Even as I look at these values today, they are not far from my heart. But I learned a lot just by the act of putting them together and challenging people to deal with the fact of our creation.
In the middle, I made a clear discovery that 'be' seemed to be more important than 'do'. So the very act of saying "I am a black Republican" or "I am a black Conservative" got in the way of doing what those values instructed. Whereas it was very comfortable for us to say what we believed unapologetically, we always had to deal with haters. For a while it was good sport to fight back from this alternative perspective, but after a time my head started ringing from the sound of people's heads exploding. You probably wouldn't be surprised at how deeply ingrained it is in people's heads to associate everything evil in America with the perceived acts and ideas of the Republican Party.
In the end, I found that America became obsessed with 'be' and just assumed 'do' could not, or would not happen. The blog league was a success, I maintained a core site for some time but it ultimately got hacked. I wasn't interested in doing anything for money or getting involved with parceling out funds from the site. It wasn't as if I didn't have a day job. And while I got some notoriety from appearances on TVOne, in various blogging and journalistic venues and as a regular on NPR, I wasn't really hungry to make a media star out of myself, much less deal with the possibility that I could be seen as a shill. Again, I took no money and accepted no ads on my blog with the exception of normal blog syndication. I never made enough money from that to pay the 15 bucks a month it cost me to host Cobb.
In 2006 I killed the blog and took a hiatus. In 07 I went balls to the wall over the Obama nomination and won best black blogger that year. When Obama was elected in '08, people were shocked that I didn't bend over for his platform which I found domestically mendacious and internationally naive. As well, in the broader fight for civil liberties, I recognized that identity politics had won, just as the hardest multiculturalists dreamed, and those values I talked about above meant nothing in the abstract unless I, the Conservative Brotherhood and everybody else could find a way to reconcile our false blackness with the real blackness. It was like I was in a rap battle with DMX about realness. Despite the fact that it happened while we in the Brotherhood were taking slings and arrows, a real black man became the real head of the real Republican Party, a victory nobody wants to admit happened.
It's funny when I think about it now. For two years, 2009-2011 the Republican Party was run by a black man, and the disrespect from the Left was so profoundly cold that you couldn't cut it with a blowtorch. It was like Krell metal. And now all those years of devolution and confusion has landed us here, where all people know is Trump and have no idea of how complicit they were in his election.
The Conservative Brotherhood faded away like an old soldier and people went their separate ways. I see folks from time to time, especially Joseph C. Phillips and a lot of us remain friends on Facebook, but I have basically lost all interest in domestic politics as any sort of activist. I see how entirely new networks of trust have to be built over the ashes of our currently barely functioning democratic institutions. It will happen, and I know what the content will have to be, but I have absolutely no interest in the daily bitching points.
More recently I have been interested in understanding what will happen before that rebirth occurs. That makes me something of a prepper. But I understand how many people are entranced by wishful thinking and magical realism and the unbearable lightness of their narrative playlists. You'd think Russians hacking the DNC would do it, but that's not enough either. I mean not when people don't even talk about Georgia, Ukraine, the Crimea and Syria. It's rather stupendous to watch Baby Boomers still in power acting as if Russia went away like Fukuyama said.
I have always survived and moved forward by being a couple steps ahead, but I'm just lucky that I don't shy away from the ugly and my own life is satisfactory enough for me to invest spare time in learning. But I am always pleased that there are always some people who get it right and don't waste too much time on what is not. So, The Conservative Brotherhood served its purpose and I am very proud of what we did. But I've moved on from political writing. There's not much of a future in that for people as subtle as I am. So I'm digging history instead. And programming languages, of course.