Melissa Harris-Perry responds
This weekend’s post on Melissa Harris-Perry’s piece at The Nation about the lack of real discussion about race among liberals touched a few nerves at ABLC, and I am very glad to see the fact she handily responds to her critics at the Nation today.
I logged onto Twitter on Sunday night and discovered that my recent article for The Nation was causing a bit of a stir. Some members of the white liberal political community are appalled and angry that I suggested racial bias maybe responsible for the President’s declining support among white Americans. I found some responses to my piece to be fair and important, others to be silly and nonresponsive, and still others to be offensive personal attacks. But those categories are par for the course.
I make it a practice not to defend my public writings. Because I often write about provocative topics like race, gender, sexual orientation and reproductive rights, if I defended every piece I wrote against critics I would find little time to sleep. But the responses to this recent article have been revealing in ways that I find typical of our contemporary epistemology of race. Often, those of us who attempt to talk about historical and continuing racial bias in America encounter a few common discursive strategies that are meant to discredit our perspectives. Some of them are in play here.
Do read the entire piece, it’s worth it if only to arm yourself with the knowledge of the fallacies that have been thrown at people who have brought the topic up in the past.
The ending is worth it:
Further, I am grateful to live in a time when white Americans are furious about anyone suggesting that they are racist. I much prefer to live in a country and at a moment where the idea of being racist is distasteful rather than commonplace. In many ways the angry reaction about even the suggestion of racial bias is a kind of racial progress.
And I have to agree, that is progress. But the piece also reveals just how much additional progress is needed. Until we can have a frank and open discussion about what people consider to be offensive, what is racism, and relations between all races, we’re not going to get much further down this path.
What continues to floor me is that if you ask a group of liberals about the need to discuss with an open mind the issues that life-long Democrats have with LGBT or women’s issues, you’ll not only get agreement but most likely a smart discussion of what those issues are and how we need to address them as Americans.
If you mention that there are life-long Democrats that have issues with race, you get furious denials, tactically deployed straw men, and ad hominem malarkey. To the credit of our readers here and at ZVTS, they are the exception. For that, we thank you.