Proposition 48 and Black Conservatism
By: Eric Hayes
There have been many American athletes that have participated in the political, social and economic realms of our society. Athletes such as Bill Bradley, Jim Ryun, J. C. Watts, Steve Largent and David Bing went on to become elected officials (Thomas). There are others that have attempted to advocate justice within their respective sport. Establishing foundations and programs that address different social problems and offer mentoring and education along with other foundations that help raise money for various causes. Arthur Ashe was not only one of the best tennis players in the history of the game, but he was also a very big figure in social and political movements. He was involved with a number of protest actions that have been praised and criticized (Thomas). He raised funds for the United Negro College Fund and gathered donations for the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the fight against AIDS. He also helped establish numerous educational organizations. The ABC Tennis Program ran four tennis centers in the inner city communities, and the Athlete-Career Connection worked to improve graduation rates among minority athletes were just a couple of these organizations that he helped establish (Thomas). Arthur Ashe admitted that he was involved with so many different social and political causes that it had a negative impact on his performance on the tennis court. Despite all of the hard work that Arthur Ashe did, he felt that many African- Americans had openly wondered about where his racial allegiances were held. He was really offended that he had to respond to what he called ‘some stereotypical, preconceived notion’ of how he was to act, speak and think under the threat of ‘ostracism or at the very least criticism’ (Thomas). Ashe believed that he should not be resented for behaving in such a way that was not typically how African-Americans acted. In an interview with Black Sports magazine, he mentioned that African Americans were his harshest critics. He felt like he could not act on his own without feeling like he is selling out his African American brothers. He says, “just because I am not doing something that’s predictably black or typically black or stereotypically black doesn’t mean I am selling out my brothers” (Thomas). This rift that is seen between Arthur Ashe and many liberal activists in the African American community is due to his black conservative roots. Black conservatism cannot be understood as an isolated movement in the black community (Lewis). It must be understood within the context of conservatism in America. In the early twentieth century, America evolved from a conservative tradition rooted in 18th century political thought. Black conservatives’ political views became popular shortly after (Lewis). Most black writers conclude that black conservatism in the black community is largely a result of slavery and racism (Lewis). Many African Americans believe that the harsh realities of slavery and racism left free black with no other alternative but to favor the status quo of conservatism (Lewis). Northern free blacks were the first African Americans to organize and advocate the core principles of conservative thought: individualism, the Puritan work ethic, the rationality of the market, accommodation, and moral rectitude (Thomas). This emphasis on individualism and Puritan work ethic, which stressed cleanliness, thrift and hard work, supported the fact that anyone with talent and motivation could succeed in the United States, regardless of the racial and social obstacles they may face (Thomas). They felt it was more important to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities than to protest for social and legal equality. Booker T. Washington has a great quote saying, ‘No race with anything to contribute in the marketplace would long be ostracized.’ What he means by this is that he believes no matter what race you...
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