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PHOTO ESSAY

Black Conservatives

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John McWhorter

John McWhorter. Courtesy of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

While not in the easily identifiable mold of ideologues such as Clarence Thomas—in fact, he supported Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election—scholar John McWhorter nonetheless supports many of the key positions embraced by modern conservatism. Chief among them are the beliefs that racism is no longer the greatest impediment to African American success and that government intervention is unable to supplant private self-sufficiency. A former professor of linguistics at the University of California-Berkeley, McWhorter is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a right-leaning think tank founded by William J. Casey, CIA director in the Reagan administration. Only in his early forties in 2010, McWhorter perhaps represents the most relevant face of—if not "conservative" in the classic sense, undoubtedly alternative—black American discourse. He has been a prolific commentator, and in 2008 he published All About the Beat: Why Hip Hop Can't Save Black America, which argues that as a form of social protest, rap music has achieved much less than its supporters claim. Additionally, McWhorter has written critically of black studies programs and eminent black scholars such as Cornel West. Before it went out of print in 2008, he was a regular contributor to free market champion the New York Sun; he has, however, contributed to publications across the political spectrum, including The New Republic, the Boston Globe, and the National Review.

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