Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: The Liberal Racist

Racism isn’t just something that is on brand for conservatives. Many white liberals are racist and this type of racism is much worse and more dangerous than racism from conservatives.

In fact, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to warn us about the white liberal:

“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

TL; DR: White moderates make dismantling systems of oppression a stumbling block. They make everything worse and reinforce the status quo.

Here are ways you can check if you are part of the solution to dismantle systems of oppression or are just another stumbling block:

  • Always talks about women’s rights, but never in terms of intersectionality.
  • Calls police on black and brown people because they feel “unsafe”, but “I am not racist”.
  • Photo of child from third world country on their back to show they “aren’t racist”.
  • “If you want more people for your cause.” (Tone policing)
  • “When they go low, we go high.” (Especially after you call out bigotry.)
  • Thinks calling out bigotry is rude.
  • Uses phrases like “good vibes only” / “mindful thinking” / “namaste” / “love and light” to disrupt conversations on race. (Spiritual gaslighting.)
  • “I would have voted for Obama for a third term.”
  • #supportblackwomen or #blm #sayhername but no evidence of doing anything.
  • Always wants to talk to the manager. (Ever notice how Karen is always a white liberal!) Here Here
  • “My grand baby is black” / “My cousin is Latinx” whenever they are challenged on their racism.
  • Always thinks black people are aggressive if they disagree with them.
  • Supported Bernie Sanders on the pure issue of class, and not the intersection of class and race. (And, I love Bernie, by the way!)
  • Has their “anti racist resume” ready to go at all times in case they’re challenged — “I marched there.”, “I took these classes in college.”, “I helped with…”
  • Perhaps most importantly, you feel attacked by this post. 😉

We do not need any more white moderates — we need white people to be actively involved in anti-racism work — including putting their lives on the line for BlPOC, immigrants, and people of color. Truth be told, many white people do not want to dismantle systems of oppression if it makes them uncomfortable. We need white people to be active in dismantling oppression, which also means giving up some of their privilege.

We do not need any more white moderates — we need white people committed to radical anti-racism work that creates change of our current system.

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