Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Virtues of White Liberalism

white-liberals-black-conservativesI have trouble communicating with individuals who believe they are guided by the most ethical, most altruistic, most intelligent moral compasses. Often in conversations, these individuals express their disdain for those who have different moral compasses by referring to said dissenters as “crazy” or “backward” or “selfish” or “stupid.” The irony is always lost on these opinionated people, who excuse themselves from implicit or even explicit biases. These individuals are not the minority few. They exist all around the globe. They are white liberals, a label proudly worn. In the aftermath of recent political events, these people have expressed outrage and distress, but at the end of the day, they are complacent and non-self-critical, and hardly anything is more dangerous.

I harbor two identities. On the forefront, I grew up around white liberals. Their commitment to equality, fairness, and justice shaped my ideology and optimism for society, and they envision an environment friendly to achieving those goals. On the other hand, I was also raised in an intolerant space. As a child of an immigrant refugee mother from a poverty-stricken nation, who also happens to be xenophobic, I often question the nuances and ironies of epistemologies. And I didn’t even challenge my own privileges and the privileges of my family and community until I encountered these questions in college. I also took an unimpressive amount of time to understand intersectionality and even defended my identity when called out for my privilege as an Asian American woman. I continue to check myself and to identify and distinguish inequities from their manifestations, but I understand that there is a wall between myself and other people of color. I straddle a liminal identity between privilege and deficit, and as a result, I understand that it is not particularly easy to accept critiques of the spaces we occupy. 


At the very least, my Asian family accepts their xenophobia and admits their biases. White liberals, meanwhile, do not accept responsibility for their privilege nor their deliberate ignorance to sinister problems. They applaud the overwhelming proliferation of nonprofits in New Orleans, but do not ask why the nonprofits are operated by white non-natives. They encourage other white people to engage in yoga and acupuncture and holistic healing, but scoff when I explain that my research criticizes the displacement of cultural traditional medicine into a Western globalized society. They cannot fathom why Americans are disenchanted with the sensationalized Obama and Clinton, but they choose to ignore that both individuals have enacted moderate, racist, and intolerant policies. Liberals seem to pick and choose conveniences of equity, an oft complaint they have for conservatives. They microinvalidate, microinsult, and microassault. Their policing language is fancy, coercive, and smug. Why do they behave so similarly to a group of people they abhor? 

For more articulations, please refer to: 10 Ways White Liberals Perpetuate RacismThe Culture of the Smug White Liberal, and the exceptionally interesting White Liberals and Politically Correct Racism.


2 comments on “Virtues of White Liberalism

  1. Jack Styczynski
    December 12, 2016

    Thank you for the links to those articles.

  2. Emery Graham
    November 30, 2016

    Whew, what an insight; breathtaking. I’d be interested in the absence of your blogs over time. This blog poses some challenging questions to those who care to be critical of their environment and vocabulary.

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on November 30, 2016 by in VISTA Field Reports.



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