As proudly as I adhere to progressive principles and beliefs, I’ll also happily tell you that progressives in general don’t handle the situation much better. We’re quick to vilify conservatives, and we love to sound smarter than everyone else. Just as far-right conservatives can’t seem to find it in their hearts to listen to people of color and the truth of their experiences, so progressives refuse to listen to very real pain and very valid perspectives of conservatives, including white ones. This is especially true in Christian circles, where we love to eat our own. Not only that, but we’ll also get so excited about our newfound racial awareness that we’ll go around explaining racism to the very people who experience it every day. We can be obnoxious like that.
At the same time, we have also been one of the biggest obstacles to antiracism work for civil rights leaders. Whether we’re white feminists who want to ignore the realities of intersectionality that female BIPOC face, or whether we’re tone policing people on social media, we place a huge STOP sign in front of activists and organizers, creating hurdles for the very people for whom we wish to be allies. When they call us on it, we get fragile and teary-eyed (or red-faced and defensive). We impede the progress of true antiracist work by paternalistically insisting that its proponents slow down and be polite; this is especially true in churches, where the work of social justice is often called “divisive.” We’re fine sharing a meme or two, but participate in an actual protest that disrupts the status quo? Well, that may be taking things too far. Everyone just needs to stop yelling and be nice. And we definitely need to follow the law – even the unjust ones. We should be grateful for the progress we’ve made.
Except that for all that progress, people of color are still dying.
From “Good White Racist? Confronting Your Role in Racial Injustice” by Kerry Connelly – Westminster John Knox Press