This quote by Cone was in Damon Garcia‘s “Racism Is Not a Heart Issue,” and it nails precisely why I refuse to call myself a Liberal and why I left Liberalism for the Left. I have a lot of work to undo Liberal mythology in my beliefs and actions, but this is precisely why I chose to move further Left, in a radical way, and away from Democrats and Liberals. May these words be a woe to anyone who is a Liberal, because, well, Liberalism as a whole in this country is like this. This quote is a political, spiritual indictment of the entire Liberal Body Politic in the United States:
“The [White] liberal, then, is one who sees ‘both sides’ of the issue and shies away from ‘extremism’ in any form. He wants change the heart of the racist without ceasing to be his friend; he wants progress without conflict. Therefore, when he sees blacks engaging in civil disobedience and demanding ‘Freedom Now,’ he is disturbed.
Black people know who the enemy is, and they are forcing the liberal to take sides. But the liberal wants to be a friend, that is, enjoy the rights and privileges pertaining to Whiteness and also work for the ‘Negro.’ He wants change without risk, victory without blood.
The liberal white man is a strange creature; he verbalizes the right things. He intellectualizes on the racial problem beautifully. He roundly denounces racists, conservatives, and the moderately liberal. Sometimes, in rare moments and behind closed doors, he will even defend Rap Brown or Stokely Carmichael. Or he may go so far as to make the statement: ‘I will let my daughter marry one,’ and this is supposed to be the absolute evidence that he is race-less.
His favorite question when backed against the wall is ‘What can I do?’ One is tempted to reply, as Malcolm X did to the white girl who asked the same question, ‘Nothing.’ What the liberal really means is, ‘What can I do and still receive the same privileges as other Whites and–this is the key–be liked by Negroes?’ Indeed the only answer is ‘Nothing.’
However, there are places in the Black Power picture for ‘radicals,’ that is, for men, white or black, who are prepared to risk life for freedom. There are places for the John Browns, men who hate evil and refuse to tolerate it anywhere.” -Dr. James H. Cone
I’m thoroughly convinced why Liberals haven’t done much good to eradicate oppression and oppressive systems in our country is because they are thoroughly dedicated to Capitalism, which is the hub of all these oppressive systems. Racist power is all about seeking its own best self-interest, which is why Capitalism works so well for it.
Liberals don’t want to confront the real source, so they fail and fail often at truly getting rid of evil and oppression. Let us move toward radical action to eradicate these systems instead of continuing to prop them up with the same failed policies that don’t bring these systems to an end! For me, that means a move to the Left, towards Democratic Socialism, and away from the Center, and most definitely, away from the Right!
Here are some additional resources about James Cone, the father of Black Liberation Theology, that I highly encourage you to read, listen, and check out:
To love Capitalism is to end up loving racism. To love racism is to end up loving capitalism. The conjoined twins are two sides of the same destructive body. The idea that Capitalism is merely free markets, competition, free trade, supplying and demanding, and private ownership of the means of production operating for a profit is as whimsical and ahistorical as the White-supremacist idea that calling something racist is the primary form of racism.
Popular definitions of Capitalism, like popular racist ideas, do not live in historical or material reality. Capitalism is essentially racist; racism is essentially Capitalist. They were birthed together from the same unnatural causes, and they shall one day die together from unnatural causes. Or racial Capitalism will live into another epoch of theft and rapacious inequity, especially if activists naively fight the conjoined twins independently, as if they are not the same.” -Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, “How to Be an Antiracist”