The Detroit, MI Board of Education recently voted to consider name changes for several schools including one named after Dr. Ben Carson, the current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the Trump administration. Dr. Carson was once a hero in the community where he himself graduated in 1969. He achieved fame as a neurosurgeon and was portrayed by Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding, Jr in the movie, “Gifted Hands.”
Since his run for the Presidency as a Republican candidate and joining the Trump Cabinet. He has achieved a new type of notoriety. Not nearly as well received by many in the black community.
When word got out of the name change being considered, Project 21, the self-proclaimed, “leading voice of black conservatives” came to Ben Carson’s defense. They said the name change was a “purely political act which willfully ignores the accomplishments and charitable acts of the famous Detroit native who now serves as the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.” The argument has some merit, there is much in Dr. Carson’s past that deserves recognition. Can his present actions erase his accomplishments of the past? I’m content to let the residents of Detroit whose children have to enter the building make that decision. Much like the residents of Trump-branded apartments and condos who have chosen to take down the Trump name.
Project 21 has injected their voice but are those black conservatives anything but a pawn of a white right-wing political group? From their Facebook page; “Project 21 is an initiative of The National Center for Public Policy Research to promote the views of African-Americans whose entrepreneurial spirit, dedication to family and commitment to individual responsibility has not traditionally been echoed by the nation’s civil rights establishment.” But if you look at the National Center for Public Policy Research, you find few black members of their staff, all of those with roles specific to Project 21 save for one Horace Cooper who sits on their board.
I wrote this review on the Project 21 website on November 27, 2013:
“ I have serious questions about Project 21 and this site. You promote yourselves as the “leading voice for Black conservatives” yet the majority of posts are shared links from conservative blogs whose authors are definitely not Black Conservatives. I have the impression (please correct me if I’m wrong) that Project 21 was founded by a predominantly white right-wing group who still maintains a relationship if not control. I also want more than the constant negativity without balance and sometimes without truth in the commentary.
I can see the value in an organization and site where conservative ideas are expressed and those of like mind in the Black community can meet and share ideas. I’m not sure that I see that here. I also would like to hear what Project 21 thinks about the coordinated effort to suppress votes across the country in order to affect election results. If you deny it exists that will speak volumes if it’s acceptable because the goal outweighs the means that will say a lot also. If you find it offensive but don’t speak out I’d love to know why?”
To their credit, Project 21 left the review up for years and I would occasionally get a reply. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from dozens of the mostly white people who visit the site. Now and then, a black person would agree with my sentiments. What never happened was a black conservative articulating a response and engaging in conversation. While many of the articles on the site were indeed published by the black conservatives associated with the Project 21 Speakers Bureau (that you can only schedule by contacting the National Center for Public Policy Research). The site itself appears to be where white people go to both praise the black conservatives who agree with them or condemn black people in general. I stopped visiting the site and arguing because it was time I’d never get back but I would check in from time to time to make sure nothing has changed.
Here are a few current post’s from the site, defending Elvis Presley posthumously receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor from Donald Trump:
Cindy Winkleman Tired of some “black people” looking for racism in everything. Get over it and I bet your life will be much better.
Grant Redhawk I’m sorry if some of you don’t like this but black people have earned the “N” label. They need to shut up!
Rich Provost Wash Post is run by the most raciet bunch of idiots ever!
The names are real, the spelling was not changed to protect the guilty.
In full disclosure, years ago I had a rather pleasant exchange of comments with the Founder of the National Center for Public Policy Research, Amy Ridenour. The topic wasn’t the white control of Project 21 but she demonstrated the capacity to be nice. Being nice doesn’t make her a black conservative.
When you read the statements from “black conservative group Project 21.” Know that what you are getting is the right-wing views of an organization founded, owned, and operated by someone else operating under the facade of being black. Many times on their site I begged for a response from one of the black conservatives alleged to be present. Alas… I found none.