World Events

For some Black youth, it’s time to question Democratic loyalties

Pearson is an anomaly among Gen Z, whose members, polling suggests, are more liberal than any generation before them. But they’re also more skeptical of the political system and its establishment leaders. For a young Black man like Pearson, skepticism trumps loyalty to the party of his parents and grandparents. He may not be representative of the views of his cohort, but he mirrors their attitude in a way that politicians are quick to notice: He is an iconoclast.

“You know, a lot of people make the argument on the left that conservatism is the antithesis of Blackness, but I think conservatism is Blackness,” Pearson said, citing his culturally conservative but politically liberal roots. “When you look at my story, as far as being raised by Democrats and things like that, it’s weird. It’s crazy. But it wasn’t a huge leap for me. Conservatism, I believe, spoke to who I was, where I was and what my upbringing was.”

From the time he was 12, the University of Alabama freshman has advertised his commitment to conservative values and politics. At 13, he joined Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign as chair of its youth outreach program. His name was later floated for a speaking slot at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Now, as a surrogate for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and founder of his own political advocacy organization called the Free Thinker Project, Pearson spends most of his days on the road, speaking at rallies across the country alongside Eric Trump and other White House figures.

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