By Christopher Harris
Ayesha Kreutz asked me to take part in this series by The Frederick Douglass Foundation of NY, explaining “How I Became A Conservative”.
The complex journey of HOW, begins with the simple explanation of WHY?
Quite simply, I wanted to make more money. Because I wanted to make more money, and I had little to no control over my income with my job, I decided to start my own business. While I was in THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS via economic prosperity, I truly found out the meaning and importance of those other UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, like LIFE and LIBERTY.
At the age of 23, I was basically a selfish, angry young man. My life was not going anything like I had hoped and dreamed it would, and I was very bitter about it. Like most people would (and do), I began to view myself as a victim of life and of my circumstances. This made it easier to wallow in self-pity, and to project my bitterness upon other people. Because of some things that had happened on my jobs, I had also developed a certain racial animosity towards White people. I began to see them as “oppressors”. Compound that with the Black community as a whole passively endorsing, as well as actively promoting that narrative…and you have me at age 23.
In the summer of 1996, I got a phone call from some long-time family friends, who I had just happened to see a month earlier, for the first time in about 8 years. I had known them since I was 12 years old, and I used to go over their house to wait for my parents to pick me up when I had taken part in after-school activities, because they lived a few blocks from our school, and I lived across town. So when the Davis’ said, “Chris, we would like you to take a look at a business.” without hesitation, I said, “Okay.” No questions asked, because this was the Davis’.
They said that they were going to introduce me to a mutual friend, Mr. Jordan, and that he would call me. Mr. Jordan called and said he was going to be up around my way (I lived in Colorado, they lived in Texas), on a certain date, and asked when we could meet. We scheduled a date.
Mind you, the Davis’ are Black, and Mr. Jordan is a big, tall White dude from Texas (he even had a big belt buckle). I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be dealing with him…because I was an angry young Black man. Long story short, while I wasn’t thrilled with him, I was interested in the moneymaking opportunity.
The Davis’ had another guy follow up with me, Mr. Vallee, a short White dude from Texas, and he really piqued my interests. He introduced me to a financial concept that I had never in my life heard of before- passive, residual income.
So anyway, I decide to start my own business, and over the next couple a months, a third guy became a mentor to me. God really has a sense of humor, because he took an angry young Black man, with roots in Detroit and South Carolina, and gave him a middle-aged White dude from Oklahoma as a mentor. Billy-Ray was a cowboy and rail-road engineer, and I was still an angry young black man. Hilarious!!
When I first started hanging around these folks, my “blackness” rebelled at many of the things I heard them say. Not because there was anything “racist” being said at all…but because everything they were saying, went against the narrative that I constantly heard from within the Black community. However, it did line up with most of the things my parents had directly taught me about life. Things like, taking personal responsibility for your actions, never quitting, being true to your word, and treating people well. Also, because I was born and raised as a military brat, it was good to be around people who actually loved this country, and spoke well of it…considering that so many of the Black folks I had started associating with after high school, were hyper-critical of this country.
I remember when and where I had my first “Conservative” thought.
It was in 1998, and I was driving from Texas, back to Colorado, after being down in Texas working my business. I had driven down to Texas (12 hour drive) right after work on Friday, and now, here I was returning after being down
there less than 36 hours. I had just tanked up and left Amarillo, TX, it was just after midnight on a Monday. I was northbound on TEXAS HWY 287, getting ready to cross into Oklahoma. I was still about 5 hours from home, and I had to be at work at 8:30am. It was a dark night, and I was hauling butt to get home, because I was exhausted, and I wanted to get home in enough time to try and grab at least an hour nap before I had to go to work.
I remember being excited and angry at the same time. I was excited, because I was “IN THE PURSUIT” of my dreams and goals. But I was angry, because I had just thought about the idea that, when I do achieve my dreams and goals, from a financial standpoint, I am going to be expected to pay more taxes. That very thought pissed me off. The idea that, because I would end up having more…now all of a sudden, I “owed it to society” to “give more” to those who had less.
Now of course, today, I realize that it’s not a matter of me “giving more”, because that is what I am commanded to do as a Christian, but that the government was going to use their coercive power to TAKE MORE, to redistribute the wealth to those who are “more needy”. As I am 5 hours from home, after getting little to no sleep, investing money from my full time job into my side business in order to achieve my dreams, I thought of the idea of me having to pay more in taxes, and I said out loud, “THAT IS SOME B.S!!!” as I banged the steering wheel. Especially since I had talked to almost all of my friends and family about working with me to build a business that would allow us all to have more…and none of them said “Yes”.
But I know that all of them agreed with the idea that “the rich” should HAVE TO PAY MORE……………………………
Keep checking back for part two of the story… I know I am waiting for Chris to finish it and find out what happened next. I mean how do you go from that thought (which many democrats and libertrians have too, to becoming a full fledged conservative) … and yes, I am commenting right on the story and not below, and why? Because I can A.K.*All FDFNY articles available in PFD/newsletter form upon request
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