As a Black conservative for more than 40 years, I’m an expert on being canceled. I was canceled by the political left long before cancel culture was all the rage. If there’s one thing liberals and leftists dislike more than a conservative, it’s a Black conservative.
Liberal America doesn’t want to hear from African American conservatives because we go counter to their narrative that Black people needed liberal saviors, especially ones who come bearing gifts of more government.
And when I led the effort to reform welfare in Virginia in the 1990s — trying to reform a system that discouraged marriage and work, that weakened the Black family and that fostered perpetual dependence — they really hit the roof!
Apparently, I didn’t know my place.
As someone who has been a public figure now for four decades, I have learned to navigate both that kind of cancel culture and the “woke” cancel culture that pervades society today.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned:
In the end, you can’t be afraid to speak up for what you know is right. You will inspire others to follow your lead, and when more people speak up, we’ll reach enough critical mass to eventually cancel “cancel culture.”
Remember the old days when you could debate and disagree and still be civil? Honest debate has been the cornerstone of Americans finding the best solutions to our biggest issues for nearly 250 years. For the sake of our society, it’s time to return to those days.
Kay C. James is president of The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org). A longer version of this article appeared in the Washington Times.