The Van Jones Saga: White Liberals Need to Keep Their Eye on the Prize When Racism Comes a Knockin'

I've been disappointed by white liberals and progressives' unwillingness and incompetence combating racism for 20 years. The inaction of large green groups in Van Jones' resignation is yet another example.


The NAACP, Equal Justice Society and Color of Change explicitly supported Van Jones before his resignation. On the white side, Treehugger, Grist and a few other small white organizations did. But the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, and NRDC, who together must represent more than $100 million of mostly liberal and progressive foundations, big donors, and individual contributors money, were MIA. These groups either took a dive because the attacks on Van were racist, or they incompetently let the right set the terms of debate before entering. Either way America deserves better greens.

Here's today's Color Line Question: are there organized white liberals that can be trusted to maintain their commitment to their issue when the right attacks with racist wedges? I appreciate white fellow travelers, like Tim Wise, and small white anti-racist organizations like Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, on the racial justice path. But they seem to have no influence on larger white groups like the Sierra Club, NOW, Common Cause, Moveon, and other staples of the white left. To be clear, I'm not discussing whether white groups will take on issues of people of color, as I'm setting the bar much lower--can organized white liberals keep their eye on THEIR prize when the right's racism comes a calling?

It's been easy for progressives to attack President Obama for not defending Van--but do they really expect Obama to be out in front of the white left? It seems hypocritical to attack the White House for being spineless without attacking NRDC, Sierra Club, EDF and Greeenpeace for being spineless as well.

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