Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in menu_set_active_trail() (line 2405 of /home/customer/www/

When Racism Comes A Knockin...

Submitted by News Desk on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 11:18am
Can white liberals keep their eye on the prize?

I've been disappointed by white liberals and progressives' unwillingness and incompetence combating racism for 20 years. The inaction of large green groups on Van Jones resignation is yet another example.

The NAACP, Equal Justice Society and Color of Change explicitely supported Van Jones before his resignation. On the white side, Treehugger, Grist and a few other small white organizations did. But the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, and NRDC, who together must represent more than $100 million of mostly liberal and progressive foundations, big donors, and individual contributors money, were MIA. These groups either took a dive because the attacks on Van were racist, or they incompetently let the right set the terms of debate before entering. Either way America deserves better greens.

Here's today's Color Line Question: are there organized white liberals that can be trusted to maintain their commitment to their issue when the right attacks with racist wedges? I appreciate white fellow travelers, like Tim Wise, and small white anti-racist organizations like Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, on the racial justice path. But they seem to have no influence on larger white groups like the Sierra Club, NOW, Comon Cause, Moveon, and other staples of the white left. To be clear, I'm not discussing whether white groups will take on issues of people of color, as I'm setting the bar much lower--can organized white liberals keep their eye on THEIR prize when the right's racism comes a calling?

It's been easy for progressives to attack President Obama for not defending Van--but do they really expect Obama to be out in front of the white left? It seem hypocritical to attack the White House for being spineless without attacking NRDC, Sierra Club, EDF and Greeenpeace for being spineless as well.

Lets remember--the most radical thing said by any national figure about racism in the recent past was Obama saying the white cop acted stupidly. The left certainly didn't counter the right's racist framing of Obama's articulation of a racist incident.
In addition to this situation, in my political lifetime people of color have been let down by white national liberal organizations on mid-1990s welfare deform by white feminist groups, on prop 8 by white gay groups who blamed black voters for it's passage, by white communications organizations on any number of issues including California propositions 187 (anti-affirmative action) and 209 (anti--immigrant), and many other times. Although some examples are from a decade ago, I see no indication that white liberals are any better on racism now.

Although whites will be a minority by around 2050, America has to survive that long. If white progressives either can't or won't oppose racism, then we'll need a new set of white progressive funders and leaders to do something better. And if white liberals continue to be unable or unwilling to challenge the right's racist attacks then we are truly on the path to fascism.

If white liberals ultimately fail to oppose racism we have a bigger disaster on our hands than climate change, because America's commitment to white supremacy, if left unchallenged, will prevent us from dealing with the other important issues of the day, like climate change. As long as white liberals think these are parallel, rather than continuous tracks, they will continue to fail miserably.

And the world and its humans of all races can't take too many more failures. Or, more accurately, the world and all its races can't take many more white failures.