Liberals, especially white liberals, basically think things are pretty much fine as they are. Certainly things could be improved, but that kinda just happens on its own—society makes “progress,” it gets better, and it does so gradually, through “reasonable” dialogue and debate. That’s the extent of politics for liberals: “reasonable” speech. Even protest, for liberals, ends up being just another form of “reasonable” speech. A message is sent, an issue is framed, a proposal is made, a voice (or so the theory goes) is heard. There’s no room for direct action—an action that doesn’t depend on a request or a demand, that doesn’t place its hopes and dreams in the hands of another—in this model of politics. For liberals, any politics beyond the boundaries of “reasonable” speech is more or less a form of violence. Believing that politics is equivalent to “reasonable” speech also means participating in the long history of white supremacy, since historically the voices of Black resistance and insurrection, from the slave uprisings to the civil rights movement and urban rebellions of the 1960s to the Ferguson insurrection, have always been deemed “unreasonable.” It’s the “unreasonable” that gives us hope for an antiracist future.


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