In all likelihood, Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for president. He will be the first black man in history with a legitimate, decent shot at being the leader of the free world. His candidacy will cause turnout among black Americans to go off the charts and more blacks - in raw numbers and in percentages - will vote than ever before in American history (we've seen the early rumblings of this in the primary process, but I think that America at large just has no idea how strong this thing will be in a general election).
In an environment like that, where the vast majority of blacks engaged in politics are moving forward you have a miniscule few who for whatever the reason (I tend to think its for them to adopt a contrarian pose) will vote Republican. As a result, they are outliers within their own race and essentially position themselves against the tide of black history. The tried and true response of black conservatives is to look at themselves as some kind of hero or martyrs. The larger conservative movement, unable to attract a sizable percentage of black votes, trumpets these kinds of stories again and again. Like this blog post from the hard-right Human Events:
Blacks who will vote for McCain this fall are some of the most courageous people on the planet, because of the extreme social scorn they will face from their left-wing black counterparts.
It takes courage to challenge the dominant social order. It took courage for Elia Kazan to battle pro-Communist sentiment in the 1950s. It took courage for Martin Luther King to fight Jim Crow in the 1960s. It took courage for Ronald Reagan to confront institutionalized liberalism in the 1980s. Likewise, it will take courage for black Republicans like [Michael] Steele to combat “Obama-ism” in the late-2000s.
Of course, a black person supporting McCain is not courageous at all. If you want to truly compare it to the 1960s its the equivalent of seeing Bull Connor sic dogs on people and saying "Hey guys, let's cool it on all this civil rights stuff, we may upset some people."
The funny thing is, its not even a conservative vs liberal thing. On a whole, black Americans are far more conservative socially than your average Democrat. The story the media refuses to cover beyond spectacle is the churchgoing socially conservative socially active black Americans that are the bedrock of the Democratic party. The problem for the press and the right is that those same socially conservative voters are by and large economic moderates to liberals. They don't think that they should be distracted by politician's latest song and dance on a social issue they'll drop like a hot potato the day after they're elected (ie George W. Bush and gay marriage) but instead they think that sane economics helps lead to cures for social ills (tax cuts for Paris Hilton don't help teen pregnancy rates, but perhaps better funding for education does).
On paper, many of these voters should be Republican voters, and the few who are are overrepresented in the media (CNN seems to have a neverending supply of black conservatives) and for their contrarianism are paid handsomely. While they collect this money for espousing a minority of a minority opinion they treat any and all backlash as a sign of superiority. They see themselves as martyrs, but the only thing they do is prop up policies hurting black America that the vast majority of black America has rejected.
Neither side of the idealogical divide has an awesome record on racial issues, but only on the left would it even be plausible for a black candidate to be a presidential contender. Only on the left are their elected leaders at the federal level who are black. There is a reason for that, a reason why the party of the southern strategy and Macaca makes blacks sick to the stomach.
And a reason why black conservatives who help to prop up barriers to progress aren't martyrs but fools.