As a conservative black college student, I’ve had my fair share of arguments, accusation and insults. But I refuse to back down. Here’s why.
I’ve learned from my father, Professor Ellis Washington, that we are free to choose our own path, one that can and should diverge from the Democrat Party — the perceived norm for Black people.
My father taught me how the Left has a dark history of despising the combination of “Black” and “conservative,” which shatters their warped paradigm of how all Blacks owe allegiance to the Democrat Party, envisioning themselves as the party that freed Blacks from slavery and condemned racism (they didn’t, it was the Republicans).
In a sense, I have freed my mind from the invisible chains of servitude to a party I owe nothing to, yet a party that demands my allegiance.
As a history major, I’ve learned how Black people originally voted predominately for the Republican Party, since being granted freedom from slavery, citizenship, and the right to vote by President Abraham Lincoln.
In reality, Blacks ultimately owe their freedoms to the Republican and abolitionist forces that fought for their equal rights against those who battled for their enslavement, the Democrat plantation owners and Confederates.
And when I look around today, I don’t see the Democrat Party doing any favors for the Black community. Their policies have kept us on welfare, positioning us as helpless victims who must rely on the government for salvation. No thanks!
Despite my race voting 94 to 97 percent Democrat in most races, I will not allow skin color to dictate my political beliefs.
As a Black conservative in college, I find myself in even more of a unique circle, as my fellow Generation Z and Millennials either are politically apathetic or tend to embrace liberal ideals.
Although I attend a fairly conservative public school, Clemson University, my campus is not without its fair share of liberal bias.
During my sophomore year, amid the final weeks leading up to the 2016 election, I recall arguing with the majority of my fellow classmates on repeated occasions, being the only one in my political classes to support Donald Trump’s campaign.
Many of my classmates appeared completely awestruck that a young Black man like myself could support the Republican Party — and were especially surprised by my unyielding faith in Trump’s chances of victory. In my political elections class, I constantly fought with the roughly 50 other students enrolled in it, peers who believed without a doubt that Hillary Clinton would easily defeat Donald Trump and anyone who deemed otherwise was considered crazy.
Despite even my conservative professor and mentor, Dr. David Woodard, not voting for President Trump, I wholeheartedly declared Trump would carry a landslide victory in the election and firmly argued my case against conservative and liberal students alike. And on the week following Election Day, my professor even surprised the class by buying a chocolate cake, in honor of Trump’s unexpected victory and my firm belief in him winning.
At Clemson, I am an active member of my school’s Young Americans For Freedom chapter, educating students about conservative, pro-American ideals and platforms throughout the academic year. Every year, my group has invited many influential conservative speakers to Clemson, including Ben Shapiro, George Harbison and Col. Allen West.
Apart from being at Clemson, I have had a handful of helpful mentoring figures to guide my path as a Black conservative. The most notable of these has been Justice Clarence Thomas, whom I was honored to meet and have lunch with in December 2016, along with his good friend, conservative economist Dr. Walter Williams.
I have also had the pleasure of visiting the Supreme Court through a Q&A session with Justice Thomas as part of the spring 2018 intern class at the Heritage Foundation. Both Thomas and Williams imparted a great deal of wisdom for my educational pursuits, teaching me to be proud of my differences as a Black conservative and champion my ideas against those who fundamentally disagree with my path in life.
While my college experiences as a conservative Black student have generally been stacked against me, I embrace my exclusivity and seek to be an example for liberal Black students everywhere not to be loyal to a party based on skin color, but on principle.
My father’s blog, the Ellis Washington Report, expresses the revolutionary aspects of Black conservatism, of which my family proudly embodies. My ideology stays true to creed, not color, enduring a wave of criticism and indifference with pride and bravery. I draw upon the wise words of Justice Thomas in his famous 2007 memoir My Grandfather’s Son:
“Perhaps some are confused because they have stereotypes of how blacks should be and I respectfully decline, as I did in my youth, to sacrifice who I am for who they think I should be.”