A Few Words From James Baldwin About Liberal Arrogance

Some of my heroes do appear on stamps.

“A liberal is someone who thinks he knows more about your experience than you do.

James Baldwin

I run an application on Facebook that sends me an update when I am “defriended.”   Sometimes it’s a matter of an account becoming inactive.  Others because someone has had enough of me and cut me loose.   That’s fine.  I never was much interested in collecting as many “friends” and for the person who waxed me from existence because I don’t share your blind hatred of Barack Obama and single-minded obsession that Edward Snowden is an American hero, I thank you for the favor.   I’m only upset I didn’t cut you loose first.

I understand this story is very important to you.  But you cannot make it as important to me as it is for you.

Because I have enough with Good White Liberals telling me, “Yeah, what happened to Trayvon Martin? Damn shame. But what REALLY matters is Edward Snowden and the NSA. That’s more important than this trial. “

How am I supposed to process that as anything but an insult and yet another reminder that not only are Black lives less important than White lives, but our life and death issues as well?   It’s fine by me if the Zimmerman trial isn’t a major priority for others.  Just don’t tell me your priorities mean so much more than mine.

What is important to whom?   The Snowden case may be of burning importance to my friends on the Left, but I do not hang on every detail of where this so-called “whistleblower” may eventually abandon his country for.  I care a lot more about a dead Black teenager than a live White traitor.

One person’s cause is another’s lack of concern.

I decide for myself what’s important to me and I don’t seek anyone’s agreement.    The  Left should not ask for it from me and I will not I ask it from them.   It has often been a bone of contention for me that there are liberals whom seem to care more about their causes than they do people;  an ugly trait they share with their some of their more callous conservative cousins.

It is a matter of practicality for African-Americans to always look at their allegiances and work with liberals when their interests are mutually served or with conservatives  when they are not.    No one who seeks to demean your humanness or marginalize your issues should be considered a reliable friend.

Let no one try to tell you they know more about you than you know about yourself.    This was what Baldwin was warning Blacks about their relationships with liberalism  Even if you agree with liberals more often than not politically,  be ready to hold them at arm’s length when they disrespect you.     They DON’T know what matters to you better than you know yourself and NO ONE should ever try to tell African-Americans they know what they should be worked up over.   There are some well-meaning liberals who think being liberals means they are racially born again.

It ain’t necessarily so.  Any of us can be racist and none of us are exempt from that particular philosophical blindness.   No matter how many times they may have read Baldwin, Why We Can’t Wait or The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

To be good allies each side must respect the issues that are important to one side if not the other.   I understand why Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s surveillance program is important to White liberals.   I don’t believe it’s too much to expect White liberals to respect, if not necessarily understand why the Trayvon Martin case is as vitally  important to Black liberals.

As the Zimmerman trial winds down and the jury begins its deliberations, now would be a particularly good time for both sides to remember they work best as allies than adversaries and Trivializing Trayvon will not score liberals any points with their Black allies.

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6 thoughts on “A Few Words From James Baldwin About Liberal Arrogance

  1. Pingback: Eagles’ Baldwin flies high in Australia | Sports and Race Betting News Blog

  2. Perfectly stated. I just had this conversation with several people, however you have stated it so much better than I ever could. I suspect one of the reasons why is our racial differences, I am not taken quite so seriously as I can not argue the issue from your standpoint quite so eloquently.

  3. Just found your blog the day before yesterday and bookmarked it immediately. I love what you wrote here. I am a white liberal and I have been disgusted by Snowden’s actions but have not been obsessed with what will happen to him. Contrarily, every moment that I am not at work and the Zimmerman trial has been televised I have been watching in constant hope that justice for Trayvon Martin is served against Zimmerman. I find the trial against a grown man with a gun killing an innocent 17 year old child far more important than Snowden’s leaks about the NSA’s surveillance (the surveillance from what I understand capturing phone numbers, not actually recording calls, as one example). Anyways, your blog was perfectly stated, as are many of your other blogs that I came to discover the other day.

  4. Pingback: James Baldwin | healthyheartworks

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