White Liberals Don't Get To Decide Our Pain

Editor: The cover photo of this story is from a 2016 Washington Post story and features a father who is a Trump supporter, and his son, a Hillary voter, all smiles. These are two people we won't be listening to when it comes to our response white supremacy. -Chief

 

As Donald Trump’s presidency continues, white supremacists, Nazis, and right-wing patriots alike have become bolder. Grand marches and rallies composed almost entirely of white men who wish to rid America of those they deem “others” have finally garnered the attention of the media (despite having been a political reality since the formation of the KKK). Under the pretense of “love” or “equality”, various leftists have begun riding their “spread love” crusades. To them, combating white supremacy is merely about combatting a vague idea of “hate”.  To them, the frustration, outrage, and actions by people of color in response to white supremacy have gone too far. 

On a social media post stating that niceties do not solve oppressive systems, a white man commented: “To be clear, #lovetrumpshate I believe is mostly wrong…if someone hates you, telling them you love them is not going to help the situation, and is incredibly naive and unsympathetic to the person going through the issue.”  

At first glance, the opening line seems like it is one of an ally readying the answer to a call for help from people of color. It seems like it is going to be that of an ally who understands what is actually happening. 

“However, hate does breed more hate, and further divides everyone involved. I think the fix for the overall issue is better education. [Echoing President Barack Obama’s most-liked-in-history tweet:] No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love …- Nelson Mandela [sic].”  

President Obama notwithstanding (people of color can have our own family conversations, thank you) this is a similar response by many left-leaning/liberal-minded whites to outspoken people of color. They use a single person of color and weaponize that single person’s words as a tool to instruct *all* people of color. Furthermore, social media and online forums are rife with apologist-sentiment, one which always labels “both sides” as equally “bad”. Though an uncle or a cousin may ride with skinheads or regularly use racial slurs may sit at their dinner tables, it is those who are most vocal about their criticisms against racists that are, instead, silenced. 

The reasoning for this is that “hate breeds hate”, as previously cited commenter said. It “further divides everyone involved”, as if “everyone” was “involved” in the same rallies, movements, or protests. It is the false equivalence utilized by far too many well-meaning white people that in reality only serves the ends of white supremacy. It implies that the suppressive systems of oppression within the world are easily fixed by the glue of love. These issues must be simplified, our pain and frustration downgraded, in order to be more accepted by whites, with tones and words less accusing towards those who still eat at the tables of Nazis and their sympathizers, with the casual and effective (even if not intentional) racism of Trump-voting relatives on Thanksgiving.

The pain of racism persists, yet it is still not enough, not palatable enough for moderate white people to act with appropriate action or outrage.  

At the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark conducted a study that explored the effects of segregation on Black children.  The results showed that Black children found Black dolls to be “uglier”, less desirable, and white dolls to be beautiful. Though things have certainly changed in the seven decades that have passed, this experiment highlights the psychological effects of white supremacy in American society.  

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration enacted Executive Order 9066. Over a hundred thousand Japanese people, even those with “1/6” Japanese blood, were rounded up and held in designated military areas. The reason cited was the need for better mainland security as the United States military continued to engage with the Japanese.  

These events are often deemed simply “too outdated” to care about anymore despite that they echo in the memories of people of color and in aftershocks of bias against these same communities decades later. It is irrelevant to say “times have changed” when Philando Castille was murdered less than two years ago, and Mark Wahlberg still has a career despite nearly killing a man simply for being Asian. Again, though the pain of white supremacy exists, speaking out about racism sparks controversy because that pain isn’t palatable, it isn’t deemed valid, by even progressive and liberal white people.  

Donald Trump, the incumbent President of the United States, won election in 2016 on a campaign founded upon building walls to combat illegal immigration and on more aggressive military policy in the Middle East. Since becoming President, the US Government under Trump has enacted several controversial laws, such as the infamous “Muslim Ban” and giving ICE agents more resources and power to find and deport undocumented people.  

In the 2016 NFL season, Colin Kaepernick was removed as the San Francisco 49ers star quarterback for his refusal to stand and participate in the national anthem to bring attention to the hundreds of Black lives taken by police brutality.  The backlash from his protest has prevented him from returning to football, despite how well he performed in the NFL. In the time since Kaepernick’s removal from the NFL, over 230 black people were murdered by the police.  

These events are barely touching the surface of the reality of racism in modern America, let alone how people of color face racial discrimination in their daily lives. From jokes, stereotypes, and consistent othering, the world is all-too-primed to punish millions simply for being outside of the “standard” of whiteness. Yet the grip of white supremacy tightens not necessarily as Nazis and white supremacists grow bolder, but when white leftists decide that hearing about the harsh realities of racism becomes too much.  

White liberals quote Nelson Mandela when a person of color says that they hate Nazis.  White liberals use their black and brown friends as their tokenized shields when called out for some seemingly “innocent” casual act of racism.  White liberals still patiently “ignore” their racist grandparents and family members, all in the name of “peace and love”. While they quote the only two phrases they know from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream”, they then repeatedly ask not to be grouped with “those” whites as if they had no part in their emboldening.  

The concept of “hate the sin, not the sinner” is what moderates are applying when they see the backlash against racists. Though they don’t want to be lumped into white supremacy groups with their brothers and sisters, they see people that they know in the white crowds marching through Charlottesville. Yet, it is those who face racism daily that these white liberals choose to confront and blame. Moderation, after all, seeks peace, and peace requires silence.  

There is no proper tone to speak with when it comes to racism. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, despite being hailed by whites as a pariah of peaceful activism.  (Note, too, that they constantly forget his criticisms of white silence in favor of the “nicer” quotes.) Though many moderates will support the First Amendment rights of Nazis, they still openly criticized the “disrespect” of Colin Kaepernick’s silent and non-violent protest towards police brutality as an inappropriate response to white supremacy.  

This is not advocating for justice. This is advocating for order. This is denying our pain and trauma and centering their own feelings, fragility, and tears. 

 

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