Friday, December 9, 2011

"What Some White Liberals Could Learn From Black Liberals"

We've heard these same sentiments before from many different people. But it always bears repeating. This time it comes from Keith Humphreys.

Tom McLellan and I were in the White House Mess, taking a new, Asian-American member of the Administration to lunch. The man espied an African-American White House staffer whom he had known years before. They both jumped up in surprise and hugged each other in recognition. And then a second squeeze and loud laughter. As Steinbeck once wrote, I thought I saw the beginning of a tear in their eyes but maybe it was in my own. I knew what that second hug meant: We. Made. It. People of color made it. From slavery and Jim Crow and racial oppression to the West Wing. I will always be grateful to President Obama for making this possible, but as a white person I cannot fully understand experientially what those two fine men and countless other people of color receive in their hearts every time it hits them that the President of the United States is an African-American...

Why aren’t white liberals as consistently supportive of their Presidents as Black liberals? Despite massive, heroic progress in racial equality in the United States, white people still get their way more often or not. And it’s easy to get used to that. Black people, even highly accomplished Black people, are more aware that all change is resisted, good things don’t happen without years of sustained work, and that often you have to work twice as hard to get half as much. They don’t expect a yellow pony for a birthday present and thus they don’t feel that someone has failed them when it isn’t delivered giftwrapped to their door. That makes them the grown-ups of the American left, whom the hold-your-nose set would do well to emulate.

No commentary required.


  1. I still remember November 2, 2008. The states were being counted and I noticed the map was pretty blue. They didn't even count the west coast yet. I wanted to turn flips. I was in a pretty good place mentally for a couple of weeks. Then there was the inarguation and it dawned on me, "The President's black." I really can't explain my feelings.


  2. I think one problem with the far left is that they get their news from biased sources and don't really know what President Obama does. They don't check out the facts any more than Fox News watchers do. There's little or no balance in their viewpoint.

    President Obama never fails to amaze me. Every. Single. Day. I am overwhelmed by all that he has had to deal with as well as the ordinary governing of this country. He keeps making change in the most positive ways. He responds with incredible grace and intelligence to people and situations. He is so compassionate. I don't want to downgrade that by make excuses and say he's a human being and I don't agree with everything he does. I don't and I also just don't care. I'm 63 years old and became aware of politics when I was in the 8th grade and Kennedy ran. IMHO Barack Obama is the best president in my lifetime.

    I'm glad you posted this. I always hope that African-Americans are as empowered by his election now as they were on election night. He's amazing.

  3. Thank you for sharing this with us, Ms Smarty.

    I wonder if these"spoiled brat" white liberals are even liberals? Is it possible to be a liberal while harboring such a strong sense of entitlement? Well, perhaps it is possible to be an 'intellectual' liberal, but not really an 'emotional' liberal; someone capable of empathizing with the on-going struggles of those who can--who MUST--CONTINUE to struggle even in the face of soul-wrecking, mind-maimng, life-threatening resistance. As long as the fight must continue, the enthusiasm must continue, unity must continue, faithfulness must continue. The small victories are celebrated as a prerequisite to winning more--not as an occasion to undermine the leader of the troops, or worse to abandon ship! And irony of ironies, when he 'succeeds' they congratulate themselves, and when he 'fails' they blame him.

    I appreciate what Suzanne says about those who don't check out the facts. It's galling when people like Michael Moore--people who rail against the bias and corruption of the press--are themselves incapable of or unwilling to check the facts before they will, with all the puffed-up arrogance of their lesser compadres--slather the public discourse with ass-ugly ignorance and sabotaging rumor, or as you have called them--lies.

    And their palpable disrespect, even if they do later research the truth, does not admit of apology. I have not yet heard Jon Stewart apologize for postulating--to the president's face--that he was "timid!" But then I never liked his use of a Black--I hope, faux--gospel choir to hop about the stage as he and they sang "F**k Glen Beck." He didn't cork-up himself, though. I should be grateful.

    Disrespect for and ignorance of Black people and Black culture, is at the heart of the liberal 'familiarity breeds contempt' kind of disappointment with the president's magicnegroship. And because these criticisms are 'colored' they lose their objective validity. 'President' Obama doesn't fit into the limited spectrum from which they draw their stereotypes of Black people, eg., Stepin Fetchit or Mr. T, minstrel or street criminal, Uncle Tom or sociopath. So they make shit up--rummaging through their psychology texts, and bestest tv shows, comic books and literature, or their Great White Men storehouse.

    And Black people who participate in the larger--supposedly universalist--progressive political dialogue, while jigging about with their 'dear brother' critiques on the media platforms of TPTB, embolden these white folks, friends and foes alike, to continue their slash and burn assaults on the president under cover of--ahem--blackness.

    It feels good that Humphreys tries to see more deeply and still knows that he doesn't really 'know.'

  4. Anonymous @ 12:38

    You brought tears to my eyes. Deep profound truth will often do that.

    My humble thanks.

  5. You honor me, Smarty. Thank you.

    Anonymous @12:38