The profile of the white liberal as perceived by a black American.
Today, as we past the halfway mark of the first decade of the Twenty-first Century, there are many subjects and issues being discussed in high places and by those with less power that are considered by many Americans to be significant, if not vital, for our national security. The major ones are: the war on Iraq, the war on terrorism, immigration, and conservatism v. liberalism. On all these issues white conservatives are the dominant voices.
In this discourse the focus is on white liberals with an emphasis on black people's indebtedness to them and an appeal to black Americans to ackowledge with gratitude the contribution that white liberals have made in assisting black people in their struggle to secure justice in America. It is not that black justice has been achieved, at least not to the degree it is experienced by white Americans, but with the support black people have received from white liberals progress has been made that advanced them up from second-class citizenship.
Some white conservatives and a few black Uncle Tom-style conservatives, have the audacity to say they are color-bind and want equality for all people. But they are not to be trusted by black people. How can anyone be color-blind in a society where nearly everything is viewed in color. Look at the people in the prisons, the children attending the most disfunctional schools, neigborhoods with the highest rate of poverty and crime and, yes, the white Senators, minus one, the millionaires and billionaires, students attending the best universities, judges, and on and on. What we see is color, specifically black and white. Yes, today some white consevatives include black people in venues, such as being able to attend a white conservative college, that black people gained access to with the support of white liberals over the opposition of white conservatives who advocated maintaining the status quo.
A question for the reader: "Have you ever known a white conservative to be killed because he are she supported black people?" The answer is a resounding no. But some white liberals who supported black people have been killed. Among them were abolitionists John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison and Civil Rigths freedom-fighters Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, James Reeb and Viola Gregg Liuzzo. And there were others. Many who were not killed suffered severely. These white liberals were killed by white supremacists who were committed to preserving the status quo.
Beware black people! Don't be misled by conservatives who pretend that they are for black equality. With the slightest opportunity they would turn the clock back and once again deny black people access to those opportunities that they received begining in the sixties. Already they have opposed affirmative action and are using all kinds of gimmicks and tactics that include denying black ex-prisoners the right to vote, to accomplish the disfranchisement of black people and the exclusion of them from enjoying full citizenship rights.
Some black people are disappointed with white liberals. They feel that white liberals have not done enough on their behalf. Others are being misled by listening to the rhetoric of white conservatives who constantly bad-mouth white liberals. It is unfortunate that any black person woud be anti-white liberal. It is true , white liberals have not done all that they could have done, even as black people have not done all that they could have done to win their own freedom, but they have done more than white conservatives to advance the black agenda. The white liberals are not all-powerful in the American Society. As a matter of fact they do not have as much power as white conservatives. The systemic nature of the American system gives white conservatives much more power than it gives white liberals. Yet, white liberals even with less power have done far more to advance black justice than white conservatives. As a matter of record, white conservatives have been their greatest and, at times, vicious opponents. Moreover, it has often been their efforts that forced white conservatives to respond positively to the black agenda. Black people need to do their own thinking and examine the record. History is replete with example after example of white liberals supporting black justice and white conservatives opposing black justice. Even as I write this essay the newly exaulted queen of white conservatism Ann Coulter's book "Godless: The Church of Liberalism" is number one on the New York Times Bestsellers List,
It is true that white liberals have shortcomings, as do black people, but they are the best of the "white crop." As for myself, I do not have to think for more than a moment to decide whether or not I will cast my lot with a white liberal or a white conservative. Liberals are worthy of black people's gratitude and embrace. Black people must not be misled by mean-spirited conservatives who seek to put down white liberals. Let white conservatives prove that they have compassion or concern for black justice by taking a pro-black stand with regard to the incarceration of black men in American prisons.
During my lifetime I have been involved in many race-tainted situations. Included is the Montgomery Bus Boycott that I helped to lead. I could also mention my being a soldier in the the U.S. Army during the Korean War. I know something about black life in America and not because I read about it in newspapers or watched TV.
Because there are millions of illegal immigarants (12 to 15 million according to the most quoted sources) in the United States and with twice that many expected to be in America within the next ten to fifteen years, plus millions of legal immigrants who came to America during the last decade and because of the ever-increasing rate of incarceration of black men in prison (currently accounting for 47 percent of the prison population, even though black people constitute only twelve percent of th U.S. population), barring a miraculous intervention, the next decade and beyond are likely to be the most difficult period black people have faced since slavery and the decade immediately following Reconstuction when the Ku Klux Klan with the support that group and other white racist groups received from the U.S. Supreme Court that ruled in the 1896 "Plessy v. Ferguson" decision that "separate but equal," was constitutional, thousands of black people were lynched and all black people in the South were denied their civil rights. During that period white conservatives were the enforcers of black injustice. And they still are.
Black people should proudly declare that in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality, their stongest allies have been white liberals. At this time in history black people would do well to cease calling their pursuit of justice and equality a struggle and instead call it the war on white supremacy because like the war on terrorism the war on white supremacy is an open-ended war that existed before there was a war on terrorism. However, it is well to bear in mind that the so-called American Indians or Native Americans were victims of terrorism. Even today we don't know their name or names because we refused to listen to what they had to say.
Like myself, Americans of African descent, I admonish you to be proud to count white liberals as your friends. No, all white people are not the same. Nor are all black people the same. One encouraging sign is that more young white people are less racist than were their parents and grandparents. Black people have come this far with the support of white liberals. They too have paid a price for being who or what racists called "nigger lovers." May white liberals recommit themselves to cooperate with black people in fighting the war on white supremacy. The enemy of black justice in America has the same philosophy as those who opposed black justice during the last four hundred years.
Copyright 2006 by Uriah J. Fields