Defining Activism

Dr. Brittney Cooper makes a valid argument in her recent Salon article that is often overlooked these days–some liberals,  usually of the white variety, are taking some arguments very personally, when it’s not about them, it’s about the bigger picture:

For more than a century, the fate of African-Americans has been the pawn in a dysfunctional national family drama played out by whites on the liberal left and whites on the right…. Black and brown folk have now endured six years of a straight-up, all out, go-for-broke temper tantrum on the right. Seeing themselves as the paragons of reason, liberal white folks have largely stood idly by reasoning with their brethren and sistren on the right to play nice, even though it is so clear that the right is not interested in a clean game.

It is this larger political context of white liberal dubiousness that Michelle Goldberg omits when she claims that “white liberal” has become a favorite left-wing epithet.

On today’s show we talked with Dr. Cooper about why it’s time to stop calling the us divisive and maybe start listening instead:

#TeamBlackness also discussed whether civil rights activism has been replaced by panels, the importance of Twitter, and Feedback Thursday.

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88 replies
  1. 1
    Samuel Knight says:

    Glad you cound understand what Dr Brittney Cooper was saying. But have to say that although I heartily agree with the point that too many alleged white liberals stood by idly while the civil right backlash came down on African-American communities, really would argue that sending people to her is like sending people to Andy Sullivan.

    She thought the cancel Colbert movement was just great, and that it was impossible to understand why Macklemore won best rap artist because no one she knew thought he should win. Which of course ignored the basic point that Colbert was making – and that Macklemore had sold millions of albums.

  2. 2
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’ll be the first to say it: as a white liberal myself, after interacting with many white liberals online in the past seven years, I completely understand why some non-white people use “white liberal” as an epithet.

    (And, yes, it has been used against me, though after the heat of battle is over, I usually try to examine my thinking and see where I went wrong. Because 90 percent of the time, it turns out that I’m the one who was wrong.)

  3. 3
    gorram says:

    Oh man this looks good! Weird how there’s like no comments at all though…?

    But yeah, I’m in the East Bay currently and was raised in the Central Valley and I think the vine you talk about Elon miiiiiiight be morning glories? Depending on the soil they can be purple (although they’re sort of blueish usually) and once they’re established they can spread like mad.

  4. 4
    c u n d gulag says:

    By mentioning race, gender, ethnic, religious, and sexual orientation, we Liberals prove that WE are the ones who are TRULY BIGOTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. 5
    Joel says:

    @Samuel Knight:

    I heartily agree with the point that too many alleged white liberals stood by idly while the civil right backlash came down on African-American communities, really would argue that sending people to her is like sending people to Andy Sullivan.

    That point can’t be made often enough.

    That said, I’m not sure #CancelColbert is the peg anyone wants to hang their hat on for this particular argument.

  6. 6
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Samuel Knight:

    As far as Macklemore goes, fairly or unfairly, the Grammys tend to reward artists who have a hit (or hits) that break out of the genre they’re nominated for. “Thrift Shop” became a pop culture phenomenon outside of the rap/hip-hop world, and the Grammys rewarded that.

  7. 7

    @Samuel Knight: I gave up after reading the first paragraph. Dense writing was dense.

    ETA: I have no idea who Michelle Goldberg is either, is she Jonah’s sister?

  8. 8
    Belafon says:

    @Mnemosyne: And I really wouldn’t hold up the grammy’s as any really great cultural insight other than old rich men not know what the hell is going on: Jethro Tull won best heavy metal album over Metallica the first year that award was given.

  9. 9
    Jibeaux says:

    @Mnemosyne: right. The hip-hop Grammys are not awarded by hip-hop nerds. Will Smith won that one years ago. The country Grammy winner is usually sort of a “country singer most palatable to NPR listeners” category.

  10. 10
    Tommy says:

    Back in the day “liberal white” people got on buses and went south to protest segregation. I did as you said and listened to the video. Watched all of it. I don’t know what you want from me. Listen. I did and I am still confused.

  11. 11
    MikeJ says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: It appeared to have something to do with flame wars on twitter, so I filed it under “boring shit that has nothing to do with me.”

    My lack of tolerance for complex arguments being boiled down to 140 chars means I am the problem, I know.

  12. 12
    JGabriel says:

    RE: To Be Reasonable

    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

    — George Bernard Shaw

    I would phrase it a little differently: To be reasonable is to accommodate oneself to the society around you. Reasonable means to not demand any uncomfortable changes. Correcting long-standing injustice always requires uncomfortable changes — usually by people who benefit from the injustice — else the injustice wouldn’t have stood so long.

    So of course the charge of being unreasonable is disingenuous — because the demand to be reasonable isn’t a demand to use reason. It’s a demand to let things be. It’s what Conservatives mean when they say they want to be left alone: “Leave me alone – don’t make me change end to someone else’s suffering, especially if it’s going to inconvenience me or my comfort.”

    By that defintion, being unreasonable is, ever and always, the only way to end long-standing injustices.

  13. 13
    kc says:

    Seeing themselves as the paragons of reason, liberal white folks have largely stood idly by reasoning with their brethren and sistren on the right to play nice

    BULL. SHIT.

  14. 14
    kc says:

    @MikeJ:

    I’ll tell you what the fuck happened: Suey Park said something really dumb on Twitter about Colbert, then Michelle Goldberg wrote an essay criticizing Park, then Cooper wrote an essay criticizing Goldberg and saying “White liberals it’s not about you” whilst bitching about white liberals.

    THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

    Worthless-ass overeducated online wankers sit around wanking about words all got damn day while the GOP systematically strips away voting rights and undercuts every decent thing the government tries to do. But hey, #CancelColbert! Revolution!

    Assholes.

  15. 15
    Ash Can says:

    @Tommy:

    I don’t know what you want from me.

    I thought the answer to this was perfectly clear, especially in the discussion toward the end of the video: Take the “me” out of it. We as white liberals need to avoid taking the criticism personally, need to not see it as directed at us individually, and step back and see its generic and broad nature, and how it identifies problems that white liberalism is rife with — problems that we as whites don’t even notice, until they’re pointed out to us. By doing this, we white liberals can then use the criticism as a tool to re-evaluate the methods and assumptions (if not our goals) involved in our liberalism and fix whatever might be counterproductive in addressing issues of race — in other words, use the criticism as it’s intended.

  16. 16
    Belafon says:

    As I have been learning more about the privileges I have had as a white male, the less I have actually tolerated excuses like my mothers “But back when I was a kid….” I call a lot more things racist than I did before Obama became president.

    I’ve also been less tolerant of the excuses for hating gays and lesbians.

  17. 17

    @kc: Thanks for the succint summary.

  18. 18
    Ash Can says:

    @kc: So that completely negates everything that was said in this video? Now, that’s the textbook definition of “unreasonable.”

  19. 19
    kc says:

    @Ash Can:

    So that completely negates everything that was said in this video?

    Your words, not mine. I didn’t watch the fucking video, having read enough of this wankery already. You watch it, let me know if it covers any new ground.

  20. 20
    ruemara says:

    Sorry, but no. There’s a lot of white liberals who are just benignly prejudiced and frankly, near worthless. But there’s as many & more who get it and reach out with great effort to achieve social & economic justice. I see this as yet one more iteration of “Suey Park: the series”. Look, the bigots and misogynists attacking her are scum, but the girl sounds like a women’s studies reader & an ethnic studies reader scanned into a computer and set to regurgitate the whole mess. Nope. There’s no your truth, there’s the truth and movement means you need allies, not alienation. I’d agree with many of the points, decoupled from this truly offensive argument. Also, hash tag activism allows you to do things from the sofa, but it degenerates into the essence of internet silliness real fast.

  21. 21
    Someguy says:

    @Tommy: Back in the day “liberal white” people got on buses and went south to protest segregation. I did as you said and listened to the video. Watched all of it. I don’t know what you want from me. Listen. I did and I am still confused.

    Check your privilege and quit trying to whitesplain your inaction and confusion.

  22. 22
    Betty Cracker says:

    @kc: Yeah, that is bullshit. I don’t have time to listen to the podcast, but I have read several of Dr. Cooper’s pieces at Salon. There’s usually something of value in them, but it’s frequently accompanied by a substantial dollop of hyperbole, defensiveness and provocation, which is fine if you’re aiming to rile people up, but then turning around and accusing them of taking things personally seems like dipping them in garlic and calling them stinky.

    I don’t know what it’s like to be a person of color, but I do know what it’s like to be a writer, and what I’ve learned is this: If you are consistently misunderstood, it’s possible that all of your readers are stupid shitheads. But it’s also possible that you need to work on your writing.

  23. 23
    SatanicPanic says:

    @kc: It was kind of about white liberals since Colbert is a white liberal. I can agree that some of the criticism of Park was racist. That sucks. But is it needlessly incendiary to say that on that occasion it actually was about white liberals and Asians and not Brittany Cooper?

  24. 24
  25. 25
    Starfish says:

    Seeing themselves as the paragons of reason, liberal white folks have largely stood idly by reasoning with their brethren and sistren on the right to play nice, even though it is so clear that the right is not interested in a clean game.

    White folks should not pretend to know what black folks are thinking, and black folks should maybe return the favor?

    I am reading the quote above as saying, “White liberals just do not see that Republicans are crazy cakes.” And I don’t think that is true.

    Disenfranchising black voters harms liberals everywhere. And I am seeing even wealthy, white, conservative old people in southern states say that the NRA is going too far.

    Or yeah, what @kc said.

  26. 26

    @Betty Cracker: Can we has an open thread?

  27. 27
    Eric U. says:

    I have known the Republican party platform is all racism since sometime in the ’90s. I figure the best thing I can do is defeat Republicans. I have to admit I’ve been shocked by the open display of racism since 2008. Obama has been the best president of my lifetime and we still have witch doctor pictures with his face photoshopped on them.

    And maybe the criticism in the OP uses the Republicans at NPR and The New Republic as the prototype for “white liberals?”

  28. 28
    Joel says:

    @JGabriel: I like that quote, except for the fact that Shaw was an avowed Stalinist. Caveat emptor…

  29. 29
    Kylroy says:

    @Ash Can:

    And what the white liberals get out of this re framing is….?

    I don’t think we can get any further trying to appeal to people’s empathy and sense of justice. At some point, people realize “Hey, white privilege is real…and it’s awesome! I should work to preserve this institution that’s done so much for me.”

    Granted, they’re never that honest about it, but it’s functionally what happens.

  30. 30
    piratedan says:

    she was good on Chris Hayes’ show last night as she was interviewed with Johnathon Chait and I thought that Chris was able to allow her to illustrate her points well regarding the progress/status quo of minorities in America based on which metrics were being measured.

  31. 31
    cleek says:

    days that i don’t learn about a new way in which i am the wrong kind of person are becoming more and more rare.

    fuck Slate. and fuck the divisive dividers who live to rule their own little square meter of perfection.

  32. 32
    gwangung says:

    @kc:

    I’ll tell you what the fuck happened: Suey Park said something really dumb on Twitter about Colbert, then Michelle Goldberg wrote an essay criticizing Park, then Cooper wrote an essay criticizing Goldberg and saying “White liberals it’s not about you” whilst bitching about white liberals.

    Well, that may be what was important to white liberals.

    That was kinda irrelevant, though, to Asian Americans. And entirely differently for Native Americans.

  33. 33
    Cassidy says:

    I know no one likes to say, but The Heist was better than M.A.A.d City. Kendrick Lamar is a better rapper, although I don’t like that style, but The Heist Was a lot more fun to listen to.

  34. 34
    Fair Economist says:

    I’m biased, but I can’t see white liberals as a big problem here. Sure some have tried fruitlessly to reason with the wingnuts – but many have called the wingnuts out too, which has been equally fruitless. My reaction is basically “well, what else am I supposed to do?” And I don’t mean that in a hostile way – I’d really like to see a less racist society, I just don’t see a good way to get there quickly.

    Do a lot of white liberals have some subconscious racism? Well, yeah, that’s how this works. Could most have done more? Probably, but see above for the need for methods. Plus, that’s mostly an issue of coalition priorities, as Ruemara says, and reprioritizing is a matter for discussion among friends, not insults. There’s a lot more to work on – sexism, income inequality, chronic unemployment, money in politics, media concentration, etc. Right now racism feels like a very tough problem to me and I think we’ll see more progress by tackling things indirectly, using things like sexism and income inequality (which are seeming more tractable to me at present) to lever the Republicans out of power and get a much less racist bunch of Democrats in.

  35. 35
    Chris says:

    For more than a century, the fate of African-Americans has been the pawn in a dysfunctional national family drama played out by whites on the liberal left and whites on the right…. Black and brown folk have now endured six years of a straight-up, all out, go-for-broke temper tantrum on the right. Seeing themselves as the paragons of reason, liberal white folks have largely stood idly by reasoning with their brethren and sistren on the right to play nice, even though it is so clear that the right is not interested in a clean game.

    I’m curious how much of this is “white liberals” and how much of it is “rich white milquetoast centrist VSP types” (same thing people usually seem to be referring to when they say “liberal media,” “liberal Hollywood,” “liberal elites” and the like, a.k.a, actually not particularly liberal). Sounds like the same people who happily repeat RW memes about unions, the welfare state, etc.

  36. 36
    HumboldtBlue says:

    liberal white folks have largely stood idly by reasoning with their brethren and sistren on the right to play nice, even though it is so clear that the right is not interested in a clean game.

    Who the fuck is she referring to?

  37. 37
    daveNYC says:

    @Ash Can: Wha? So White Liberals shouldn’t take criticism personally, instead they should take the criticism and adjust/fix what they’re doing? So even though the criticism is directed at a group that includes them, and they’re being asked to adjust their behavior/attitudes/language/whatever based on that criticism, they shouldn’t take anything personally? Isn’t that somewhat contradictory?

    And then there’s this gem from her article:

    Meanwhile, since 2008, the liberal left has fumbled plays in political games where we began with possession of the ball, first down, on the 50-yard line.

    Which is, of course, a giant pile of flaming horse shit. Either that or her knowledge of football is as extensive as my knowledge of cricket.

  38. 38
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Cassidy: mmm, yeah, not agreeing. I tend to only listen to the singles, so I won’t try to debate track for track, but I prefer Swimming Pools and Backseat Freestyle to anything I’ve heard from Macklemore. Maybe a matter of personal taste, normally I prefer lighter stuff, but I just can’t really get into Macklemore

  39. 39
    cleek says:

    @cleek:
    no, not Slate, idiot; fuck Salon.

    well, on second thought, fuck Slate, too.

  40. 40
    srv says:

    When you run out of DFH’s to punch, you can always move up to liberals. This will end well.

    @HumboldtBlue:

    Who the fuck is she referring to?

    The world never lacks for people who have their own sense of reality.

  41. 41
    Cassidy says:

    @SatanicPanic: Macklemore isn’t the better rapper, but Lewis picks up that slack for me.

  42. 42
    kc says:

    @gwangung:

    Another way I have failed as a white liberal.

    Seriously, I didn’t go back that far because I thought everyone here knew about Snyder’s obnoxiously named foundation and Colbert’s bit about it. Plus I was addressing Cooper’s essay.

  43. 43
    kc says:

    @Fair Economist:

    I’m biased, but I can’t see white liberals as a big problem here. Sure some have tried fruitlessly to reason with the wingnuts

    Well, Obama sure tried that. I WARNED him not to do it, when he first got elected, but did he listen to me? NOOOOOOO. Or else he just missed reading my post warning that if he reached across the aisle, the Republicans would bite his hand like rabid dogs.

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chris:

    I’m curious how much of this is “white liberals” and how much of it is “rich white milquetoast centrist VSP types” (same thing people usually seem to be referring to when they say “liberal media,” “liberal Hollywood,” “liberal elites” and the like, a.k.a, actually not particularly liberal). Sounds like the same people who happily repeat RW memes about unions, the welfare state, etc.

    This, also, too. Most of the public “liberals” are unreformed DLCers who still think that welfare “reform” is the most liberal action they can take. Does, say, Barbara Eirenreich have a newspaper column or a regular TV gig like David Brooks or Thomas Friedman?

  45. 45

    Next up Dr Cooper, should write a book on how to win friends and influence people. Call them names and shame them into becoming better people, yeah that should work.

  46. 46
    kc says:

    @daveNYC:

    And then there’s this gem from her article:

    Meanwhile, since 2008, the liberal left has fumbled plays in political games where we began with possession of the ball, first down, on the 50-yard line.

    Which is, of course, a giant pile of flaming horse shit

    I’ve seen commenters here express very similar sentiment only to be called “firebaggers” It’s just . . .kind of funny.

  47. 47
    Fair Economist says:

    IMO Macklemore got the Grammy for tackling homophobia in rap head-on. When I first heard the song, my immediate thought was “dang, he’s brave”. And because the song ended up as effectively the anthem for a social sea-change, it will be remembered long after music fashion has moved on and current popular music is forgotten (for the edgier stuff) or banished to oldies stations (for the treaclier stuff). It may not be the best rap song to people who like rap, but it is definitely the 2013 song that will be remembered.

  48. 48
    gwangung says:

    @kc: Was slightly snarky about it, as a lot of folks weren’t aware of the splits in the Asian American community and took it for granted she spoke for the community EVEN AFTER I POINTED OUT NAMES AND SPECIFIC GROUPS WHO DISAGREED.

    But, basically, yes there is that problem of overgeneralization—it’s a point that is more cogent when made to specific people (because, lord know there are enough people to apply it to)—but it
    s safer to address to a vague and unspecified “white liberals.”

    Lot of white liberals are good folks. Lots aren’t. And it isn’t a particularly useful observation.

    (Forgive the rambling and unfocussed nature of posting. Low on sleep and high on stress these days)

  49. 49
    Rob in CT says:

    On the one hand, I think Jon Chait has recently illustrated this well (sadly).

    On the other… white liberals have faults, shall we have a circular firing squad? Maybe we could just use paintball guns, m’kay?

  50. 50
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Fair Economist: I think he gets too much credit for that song. I mean, naming “Youtube commenters” as homophobes isn’t really much of a risk- they can’t respond outside of Youtube. Being brave would have been calling out Eminem, who still uses “faggot” as a put-down in his songs. Being white Macklemore’s the best rapper for that particular thankless job. But for obvious reasons I don’t see Macklemore going that route.

  51. 51
    Roger Moore says:

    @Fair Economist:

    Right now racism feels like a very tough problem to me

    Racism may be a very tough problem, but it’s central to a lot of our broader social problems. Our current racial situation was created by the elites to divide the masses against each other, and it’s been stunningly successful in doing so. Eliminating racism would do more to undermine the 0.1%’s control over the country than any other single thing. Maybe it’s too intractable to fight head on, but all the other fights will be a lot harder while it’s there.

  52. 52
    SatanicPanic says:

    @SatanicPanic: that’s not to say that overall it wasn’t a nice gesture (it’s not really for me to say one way or the other) or that it wasn’t superior to some of the songs that came out *cough cough Born This Way

  53. 53
    Paul in KY says:

    @Eric U.: It was all racism from at least 1980. Reagan began his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Not by chance, either.

  54. 54
    gwangung says:

    @Rob in CT: Ah. Now that’s a better way to say it.

  55. 55
    Kylroy says:

    @Roger Moore: “Maybe it’s too intractable to fight head on.”

    DINGDINGDINGDING! We have a winner. The Civil Rights movement did not succeed by educating everyone about how the U.S. was founded on white supremacy and genocide – it did it by convincing people that the land of the free and the home of the brave should be better than this.

  56. 56
    kc says:

    @gwangung:

    Sorry, I missed the snark! Yes, I know that plenty of Asian Americans weren’t on entirely on board the Suey Park bandwagon, having seen some of her and her fans’ Twitter attacks on them.

    lot of folks weren’t aware of the splits in the Asian American community and took it for granted she spoke for the community EVEN AFTER I POINTED OUT NAMES AND SPECIFIC GROUPS WHO DISAGREED.

    That must be aggravating. I’d be annoyed as all hell if someone assumed that, say, Sarah Palin spoke for me just because we’re both white females. Perhaps that’s one of the benefits of white privilege . . . that doesn’t happen too often. I’ve noticed that a lot of white people do tend to assume that the noisiest members of a minority group are speaking for the whole group.

    Damn, white people DO suck! :D

  57. 57
    Paul in KY says:

    @SatanicPanic: I saw his set at VoodooFest last year & listened to the whole set at Bonnaroo (was over the plywood fence in my campground) & it was very uplifting & catchy & the crowds (especially at Bonnaroo) ate it up. Huge cheers, etc.

  58. 58
    Paul in KY says:

    @kc: Pres. Obama did try to go the extra 3 miles with them.

  59. 59
    Paul in KY says:

    @SatanicPanic: Let’s see what he (and don’t forget Ryan Lewis) does on their next album.

  60. 60
    Samuel Knight says:

    Like the shout outs on Macklemore. Just to be clear Dr Brittney said that Macklemore did NOTdeserve the Grammy – that everyone she knew – knew, just knew that Kendrick Lamar deserved it. And that was ridiculous. Lamar was great rap, but a rap song about being gay, recovering from alcoholism – well that was really new and different. And well yes, it was also more hummable.

    Same thing on Colbert, she was pretty clear that we didn’t need allies like Colbert – which was definitely not a view shared by many native Americans.

  61. 61
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Paul in KY: I’m not saying Macklemore is bad, he’s got some catchy songs and seems like a good guy, his music is just not really my thing. FWIW Macklemore himself said he thought Kendrick’s album deserved the Grammy.

  62. 62
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Paul in KY: I’m just hoping for an Eminem/Macklemore feud. Eminem has feuded with every other white rapper so it’s got to be coming. I don’t think Macklemore can actually take him on, but it’ll be interesting to see how other rappers react, because several have already said that homophobia isn’t cool Maybe Eminem will finally back down on his use of homophobic slurs.

  63. 63
    Eric U. says:

    @Paul in KY: I didn’t phrase that right. The Republican platform has been all about race for quite some time, I didn’t realize some things were racist until sometime in the ’90s. School choice, law and order, even smaller government and cutting taxes — lots of things that don’t necessarily appear to be racist on their face make a lot more sense when you recognize that racism is the reason the Republicans like them so much.

  64. 64
    Roger Moore says:

    @kc:

    I’d be annoyed as all hell if someone assumed that, say, Sarah Palin spoke for me just because we’re both white females.

    So you must be mad as hell at Sarah Palin. As far as I can tell, the same kind of people who believe that the loudest members of a minority group are the spokespeople for the whole group (or at least the whole group with the exception of a handful of bold rebels like Ben Carson or Ted Cruz) believe that the loudest wingnuts are saying what all whites ought to believe. The rest of us are race traitors Not Real Americans® for siding with Those People.

  65. 65
    kc says:

    @Roger Moore:

    So you must be mad as hell at Sarah Palin.

    All decent people should be mad as hell at her, for a variety of reasons.

  66. 66
    D.N. Nation says:

    “some liberals, usually of the white variety, are taking some arguments very personally, when it’s not about them”

    But enough about Suey Park.

  67. 67
    Joe Bauers says:

    OK, it’s not about me. Glad to hear it. Since my participation is not necessary (and as a white male liberal, my participation is actually a big part of the problem!), I will choose to shut up and spend what time I have left on this earth worrying about myself and my family. Thanks, radical leftists!

  68. 68
    Joe Bauers says:

    OK, it’s not about me. Glad to hear it. Since my participation is not necessary (and as a white male liberal, my participation is actually a big part of the problem!), I will choose to shut up and spend what time I have left on this earth worrying about myself and my family. Thanks, radical leftists!

  69. 69
    scav says:

    Seems there’s been a bit of a kurfuffle about competing over-generalizations, stereotypes and statistical abstractions (necessary, illuminating, simplistic, blinding, weaponized, self-defeating, etc) and not taking statements about abstractions as though directed at one very personal soul. Lots of timber all around on that subject.

  70. 70
    DougJ says:

    I’ll say “yes” to all this anger, but “no” to Suey Parks’ stunts, personally.

  71. 71
    DougJ says:

    @ruemara:

    There’s no your truth, there’s the truth and movement means you need allies, not alienation.

    Yes, let’s leave the really hard-core relativism to the climate change deniers and Benghazi conspiracy theorists. That way lies madness.

  72. 72
    D.N. Nation says:

    By the way, there was a HASHTAG!!!! a few months ago done by Professor Crunk’s ilk specifically ripping on white LGBTs (of which I am one). Nice to know that any sort of inner “swishiness” (their homophobic nonsense, not my self-hatred) I might have is just me appropriating African-American women, or something. How dare I take something revolting like that personally, I guess.

    Physicians, heal thyself, mercy.

  73. 73
    EthylEster says:

    quoted:

    liberal white folks have largely stood idly

    what would this Dr. Brittney Cooper person have this liberal white person do?

    i vote. i support equal rights whenever and wherever i get the chance.
    i volunteer for activities that benefit non-whites and poor whites.
    i call out douchebag republicans whenever i get the chance.
    so…what am i doing wrong?
    (see, i’m even self-aware enough to know that she might be talking about me..but WTF?)

  74. 74
    srv says:

    @scav: If you thought it could be bad at a blog, you must have been shocked twitter can’t do nuance.

    Twitter: Where Both Sides Really Do Do it

  75. 75
    scav says:

    @srv: Brevity is the soul of witless.

  76. 76
    mclaren says:

    Anyone who agitates for the government to obey the law or for their rights under the law gets slammed as “divisive.” It’s the gear-shift to second from the milder epithet “shrill.” Of course, the gear-shift into third is “subversive” and fourth gear in the automatic transmissin of politically repression is “off his meds.”

    Standard stuff. First the oligarchs try to discredit the tone of what pro-democracy groups say, then they try to demonize the substance of their demands, and finally they demonize the people themselves who demand the government obeys the law. A predictable progression as old as the slave rebellion of Spartacus.

  77. 77
    Fair Economist says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Racism may be a very tough problem, but it’s central to a lot of our broader social problems. Our current racial situation was created by the elites to divide the masses against each other, and it’s been stunningly successful in doing so. Eliminating racism would do more to undermine the 0.1%’s control over the country than any other single thing. Maybe it’s too intractable to fight head on, but all the other fights will be a lot harder while it’s there.

    I’ll basically agree with that. The problem is that the way Congressional districts are chopped up, the swing voters we need are lower-middle-class and poor whites. And basically, talking about race seems to make them *more* conservative in their opinions (I saw something on that earlier today, actually.) Talking about minimum wage, income inequality, and health insurance tends to make them more liberal. Racism, and a whole lot of racist propaganda spread both deliberately and by osmosis, does underly their willingness to support their real oppressors, but a head-on approach makes it worse.

    For analogy, I’d take the Civil War. At the start, there wasn’t a clear majority for abolition in the North, but there was a clear majority for preserving the Union. So the North fought for the Union. But, after four years of war with slaveholders there *was* a majority for abolition – even in some former slave states. Maryland voted to end slavery before the war was even over. If the white underclass gets raises by voting with minorities, *then* their racism will lessen and things will get better.

    Making the fight directly about racism (and religion) is exactly how the 0.1% maintains power. It won’t work for our benefit. We can’t completely drop the issue, because it does need to get fixed, but I think the way to approach it is something like the current strategy – mock people who step over the line with ridiculous claims and expose what’s really going on in their heads, like DeMint and the “government didn’t stop slavery” nonsense.

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    Gus says:

    I take none of this personally, because I could give a flying fuck what Brittney Cooper or Suey Park think.

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    Sly says:

    Michelle Goldberg has done some really impressive work – Kingdom Coming is probably my favorite expose of the religious right – so that Nation piece she wrote becomes doubly depressing.

    @ruemara:

    Sorry, but no. There’s a lot of white liberals who are just benignly prejudiced and frankly, near worthless. But there’s as many & more who get it and reach out with great effort to achieve social & economic justice. I see this as yet one more iteration of “Suey Park: the series”. Look, the bigots and misogynists attacking her are scum, but the girl sounds like a women’s studies reader & an ethnic studies reader scanned into a computer and set to regurgitate the whole mess. Nope. There’s no your truth, there’s the truth and movement means you need allies, not alienation. I’d agree with many of the points, decoupled from this truly offensive argument. Also, hash tag activism allows you to do things from the sofa, but it degenerates into the essence of internet silliness real fast.

    The need to placate the sensibilities of white people – which I guess now includes not finding any value in Women’s or Ethnic Studies – is not the solution to the problem of entrenched white supremacy. It is the problem of entrenched white supremacy.

  80. 80

    I’ve said for a long while that I like people like Al Sharpton. Hell, I love him. He and other “crazy extremists” like him say shit that this country desperately needs too hear. Sometimes he might be wrong. (And I dare anybody no name anyone who’s never wrong.) Sometimes he might rub people the wrong way. Sometimes he might make white people feel uncomfortable. All I can say to that is, Good! White people need a big old helping of wrong-way rubbing. White people need to be made to feel uncomfortable. Until that happens, until they’re willing to talk about this shit, but even more than that, to shut up and listen, nothing is going to get better.

    It’s 150 years since the Civil War, and still a goon with a gun and a hard-on can shoot a law abiding Black 17 year old for no reason (aside from his fear and the hard-on he can only get with a loaded gun in his hand) and walk away from it. I’m sick of people on my own side whining about how “divisive” people like Al Sharpton are. A lot of the same people would have been saying the same thing about Martin Luther King in 1963.

    I guess what it seems to me is that it’s time for white liberals to choose a side here. There’s no sense in writing off both Sharpton and the teabaggers as both being “too extremist” or any shit like that, since there isn’t any fair comparison between them. Yeah, Sharpton might be wrong once in a while. But he isn’t evil, nor does he serve evil. And liberals who can’t quite bring themselves to stand with Sharpton or those like him, well, I guess if they can’t live with themselves unless they hide on the sidelines, that’s too bad, but they at least need to shut the fuck up about how “divisive” or “extremist” or “unhelpful” he is.

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    metricpenny says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):

    White liberals have chosen a side. And it’s based on self-preservation. No one willingly gives up a good thing, not even the compassionate.

    The diminishing white American majority in America has provoked a lot of crazy in the last decade or so.

    The lowering of tax rates on the wealthy, while running up the deficit fighting a war that only benefited the same white people; enacting laws that reduce a woman’s control over her body because we need more white babies; and, a republican House failing to work with a president, whom they know is simply trying to improve the lives of all Americans. That’s some sick shyt. But self-preservation is the first law of nature. Many white liberals just can’t fight nature.

    Money is power. And as long as whites keep the money, no matter the population majority, they maintain the control.

  82. 82
    gian says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):

    it’s hard not to read this and think of the study on how finding out they are a minority makes whites more right wing. I think demanding that “white liberals chose a side” is a pretty shortsighted way to deal with whites.

    that is if you want to work positive change. By definition they think they are on your side. Telling they they’re insufficiently pure and need to pick a side?
    Is this really the best way to make positive change? It seems to go against my life experience.

  83. 83
    machine says:

    Whew! It’s about time the concern trolls of color checked in.

  84. 84

    White people need a big old helping of wrong-way rubbing. White people need to be made to feel uncomfortable.

    Aaaaaaaaaaand go fuck yourself.

    Anytime you speak of groups, whether it’s “white people” (define “white” for me, please), “black people” (define “black” while you’re at it), “gay people,” etc., etc., YOU ARE WRONG.

    No group of human beings is a monolithic horde. Not one. People are individuals. Anytime you stop dealing with people as individuals, you have FUCKED UP.

    Of course, my rigorous adherence to this philosophy means that I don’t engage in any political activity on a larger scale than one-on-one conversations, so my opinion counts for less than nothing. But hey, in the long run we’re all dead.

  85. 85
    machine says:

    @burningambulance
    I was going to replace “white” with “Jew” in their comments, but you’ve more or less led the charge.

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    Betty Cracker says:

    @metricpenny: White liberals have supported lower taxes on the wealthy, more restrictions on abortion and reflexive opposition to the president? Maybe your straw white liberals have, but the real ones haven’t.

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    ruemara says:

    @Sly: you wish that what I said devalued women’s & ethnic studies.

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    Kylroy says:

    @Betty Cracker: Betty, Betty, Betty. You’re a white person in a conversation where “privilege” has been invoked. You can agree, or you can be silent.

    Maybe if you can play off the fact that you’re female, you’ll be permitted to contribute. But barring that – you’re privileged, ergo you can’t possibly understand what’s being discussed, and any dissent from the opinions of the unprivileged just shows how out of touch, sheltered, and possibly racist you are.

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