We live in a strange time, when black leaders and activists who work to bring independence, stability, and positive change to black communities across the country are labeled white supremacists.
This October, more than 300 young, black people will meet in Washington D.C. for the first-ever Young Black Leadership Summit (YBLS). This three-day event is sponsored by Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a right-wing youth activism group, and was orchestrated by the organization’s communications director, Candace Owens, and Brandon Tatum, the group’s urban engagement director.
The fact that it’s created by black activists––and advocating for the benefit of the black community––doesn’t seem to get in the way of slanderous voices on the left demonizing the event and its participants. In a hit piece published last week by Rollingout.com, this historic event was dismissed as an effort to “corral Black electoral support for the current presidency.” The article also derides Owens and guest speaker and former congressional candidate Stacey Dash as anti-black.
Ebony magazine ran a short article about the event as well. Although they were more balanced in their coverage, they still characterized the event as a political ploy designed to “drum up African-American support for the current administration.” While the event does take place in the weeks prior to the midterms, YBLS is not a campaign event.
Why Are Black Freethinkers Smeared By The Media?
It should come as no surprise that left-leaning Americans and publications feel all too comfortable smearing blacks who aren’t Democrats. We’ve seen the worst of the worst since the election of President Trump. But leftist myopia cannot change the fact that many people are working diligently to diminish the pathology of groupthink. Many people are also encouraging others to challenge long-held beliefs in an effort to launch their communities into a new period of growth and achievement.
“We stick together” is a common mantra of the left, particularly in the black community. No conscientious objectors go unpunished. Those deemed race traitors are horrifically ridiculed and name-called in a culture that demands complete and total orthodoxy. Group loyalty takes precedence over all else.
We have a recent example of this type of ridicule in the form of another freethinker, Kanye West, who was grossly attacked by leftist media outlets for meeting with Trump in the Oval Office and espousing the same views as many attending YBLS.
“People expect that if you’re black, you have to be Democrat,” West said, less than two minutes into his discussion with Trump. He went on to discuss how the welfare expansion incentivized the destruction of the black family, later touching on mental health issues, bringing manufacturing jobs into middle America, and sorely needed prison reform. Arguably, West’s most incendiary statements were concerning racism.
“The liberal would try to control a black person through the concept of racism, because they know that we are a very proud, emotional people,” he said. “You think racism could control me? Oh, that don’t stop me. That’s an invisible wall.” That statement strikes at the core of the system used to control people’s behavior. Even West, a self-made billionaire, couldn’t contain the fallout.
The Media Can’t Handle Kanye West Speaking For Himself
Within hours of the meeting, CNN led the way in the attempted character assignation of West. Anchor Don Lemon, who is also black, had a panel discussion on his show, where guests commented that “Kanye West is what happens when Negroes don’t read,” shortly before West was called “the token negro of the Trump administration.” Nasty, racist, offensive snubs like this are all too common from the left when you’re deemed disloyal to their groupthink.
West is a symbol and has recently shown there is a new wave of people rising up and challenging established norms. We’re attacked because we are a threat. Writ large, the black vote going to the Democratic Party has been axiomatic. So, opposition from the left––even by other black people––is to be expected because a group of well-organized black conservatives is a threat to their system. The danger posed by groups who think freely is that they cannot be controlled, cannot be “corralled,” and do not subscribe to the notion that they are victims.
“I felt that it was necessary that we reach out to all the African American people from around the country, who are either conservative or open to conservative ideas, to come into a conference together to be informed, to be educated and to be inspired,” Tatum told me in a phone interview.
Unprecedented Interest in Summit
Interest in the summit was so great that TPUSA expanded the number of slots available from 300 to 400. While several locations were considered, the event was ultimately scheduled in Washington D.C., after the White House showed an interest in participating. Many within the Trump administration share a desire to improve outcomes for black Americans, and this event represents an opportunity to directly engage with people who will help drive favorable policy outcomes.
President Trump “believes in the black community,” Tatum said. “We were blessed enough to partner with the White House to do an event in the White House and also have the president speak. …We can get these young people and leaders from all over the country and give them the ability to hear the truth, good information, solid information from leaders like Stacey Dash, Ben Carson, Colion Noir.
“Our goal is for them to go back out to the communities where they live and be leaders there and hopefully be a driving factor in this revolution, which is black people waking up and realizing that what we’ve been doing all this time hasn’t been working. All of our cities that are crumbling are run by Democrats. We have to make a change, and I think these young people are going to be a driving force.”
Critics of the event believe that Trump and conservatives do not actually have the interests of the black community at heart. Those voices long for the days of Barack Obama, when they believe things were much better. However, the data tell a different story. When talk show host Tavis Smiley, who is black, was interviewed by Bloomberg Politics, he was asked if blacks were better off under the Obama administration.
“Black America has lost ground over the last decade,” he said. “Over these last 10 years––most of that on [Obama’s] watch––black America has lost ground in the major economic indicator categories.”
The Trump administration, by contrast, is willing to meet with leaders who have ideas and a commitment to making measurable gains in the black community. This is significant because by accepting ideas and meeting publicly with those who insist they aren’t there just for a photo op, there is a power shift and the administration is then subject to demonstrating results. Just as we saw with prison reform, the pressure intensifies for the administration to actually enact change or suffer the political consequences of inaction down the road.
A Seat at the Table
Cynicism and pessimism are in no short supply these days. But a sense of optimism is what is behind this event. We have a seat at the table, an opportunity to not only network with people from around the country, but to be heard directly by policymakers. It is an opportunity not to be squandered.
Naysayers criticizing from the cheap seats can speculate as to the motives of the president and the participants, but we are interested in forcing change. We are interested in accomplishing that which has long been promised, but never fulfilled––better schools and jobs, criminal justice reform, social programs that don’t displace fathers, less crime, and increased prosperity.
“I’m going to YBLS because I strongly believe it’s time for blacks to have a choice. We can’t just hide in some closet somewhere and ‘resist’ when there is not a Democrat in the White House,” Rob Smith, a self-described black, gay, Republican veteran and political commentator told me via email. “I’m proud to be a part of a new movement of visible and proud black conservatives and I think this is a historic moment that I do not want to miss.”
Like Smith, I am honored and humbled to be one of those attendees. The future of this country rests on those willing to shake off their mental shackles and pursue a vision of a bright future, not simply hide behind injustices of a dark past.