Skip the hashtags, how Conservatives can talk to Black people.
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Being a black conservative millennial in America today is not the best way to become popular. Black people call me a sell-out, or to quote a recent text message, “a modern-day Uncle Tom.” (Apparently, it’s not a good idea to criticize the Black Lives Matter movement at the barber shop. Go figure!) On the other hand, I find myself constantly defending the Black Lives Matter movement to my conservative friends who just can’t seem to figure out why black people are so upset.

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I have this crazy thought that our ideas are actually better, and that if they gained any traction, they would help improve the quality of life for black (and all) Americans. So how can conservatives participate in the conversation without being dismissed as racists or sellouts? Conservatives don’t need a hashtag, but we will need to modify our tone.

Here is how we can at least get our foot in the door:

1. Don’t Change the Conversation or “conservativesplain” 

When a young black kid is killed by a cop, it isn’t the time for a lecture on how black-on-black crime is the bigger issue or how statistics show that whites experience just as many extrajudicial killings as blacks. Both points may be true, but they will persuade no one. In the wake of tragedy, conservatives should mourn with the hurting families that lost a loved one. Moreover, we must not be afraid to show up where we may be unpopular. Sympathetic tweets are one thing, but if we truly want to make an impact, we must actually visit the hurting communities. This is especially true for elected officials. Be willing to listen; this isn’t the time for a press conference.

2. Be Honest about the movement’s past

We must accept the fact that many black people view conservatives as racists. While this is hurtful for many well-intentioned conservatives, we must stop being defensive about the issue and address it head on. We need to be willing to openly discuss the conservative movement’s dark past of cooperation with, if not outright support for, segregation. Of course, there were true conservatives who were on the right side of the Civil Rights Movement, but we must admit that those individuals were more the exception than the rule. Most blacks will not take conservative ideas seriously until there is a general willingness to own up to the fact that conservative politicians, intellectuals, businessmen, and religious leaders advocated for the disenfranchisement of blacks. Just as liberals should take responsibility for eugenics and other horrible crimes against blacks, we must be willing to own our part of our national sins.

3. Speak up and take the Lead

 

Too many conservatives of all races are silent in the face of events that are terrifying and enraging the black community. Silence is better than changing the subject, but we should be willing to take the lead. Senator Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenate panel advances Trump's new NAFTA despite GOP gripes Trump to sign order penalizing colleges over perceived anti-Semitism on campus: report Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump MORE recently spoke of the racism that he has encountered even as a U.S. Senator. He didn’t just dismiss the complaints of the black community – which no doubt would have been the easier way. He used his platform to expose the reality of the racism that still exists in our country. I saw many black liberals repost his speech, but not many whites who share the rest of his politics. If more blacks knew about Tim Scott, maybe they would warm up to his other ideas.

4. Conservatives offer better policy, but they need explaining

I constantly hear complaints from my black friends that conservatives only oppose government spending; we aren’t “for” anything. We know that this isn’t true, but we must do a better job communicating how conservative policies can improve the lives of black (and all) Americans. America’s only two black Senators Tim Scott (R) and Cory Booker (D) are sponsoring bipartisan legislation called the Investing in Opportunity Act. Their legislation will provide a tax-incentive for individuals and businesses to invest in low-income communities. Imagine the second and third-order effects of such legislation. Local businesses would have more resources to hire young inner-city blacks. The more time they spend in a legitimate form of employment, the less time they spend in the streets which inevitably decreases their likelihood of entering the criminal justice system. Moreover, if inner-city youth have first-hand experience with a successful local business, they will be more likely to pursue entrepreneurship as a practical way to feed their families. This is the type of legislation that we should highlight at every opportunity. Another policy could be school choice. With enough information, caring black families would jump at the opportunity to send their children to better schools. We know our conservative policies can work for all people. We just need to be a little more humble, gracious and patient in getting the word out there.

Hunt is a U.S. Army officer and also serves as a Leadership Strategist for the Douglass Leadership Institute. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. government.Follow him on Twitter @jeremy_c_hunt1


 

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.