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The Limitations of White Liberalism

In contemporary politics, it has become more en-vogue for the left, particularly white democrats, to talk about challenging racism. People have become far more willing to refer to mass incarceration or the war on drugs as explicitly racist in attempt to highlight historical inequality. While this rhetoric has certainly made for interesting conversations, this has not necessarily translated into public policy.

At a fundamental level, the democratic party relies on people of color for its power. Much of the public policy produced by the democratic party is produced by white people. Typically, the non-profit and foundation community in conjunction with government agencies are tasked with creating public policy solutions for Black people. They often echo the sentiments of the Democratic party, especially since the party is shifting more to the left.

What is often omitted from these conversations is the necessity of Black self-determination. Often problems that are faced by Black people are articulated as if outside forces are needed to give us the tools to fix our issues.Instead we should focus on strengthening the resources we have to empower ourselves. In the context of the MD Legislative Session, this is an opportunity for our people to craft laws that speak directly to issues  in our community.

In light of the recent tragedies surrounding Black youth (ie. Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, etc) there is a national conversation surrounding structural racism. It is aimed particularly at discussing how racism is aimed at Black youth. What is tragic is that although there is a dialogue about youth being the targets of institutional racism, Maryland, a state that is a so-called “progressive state”, is having a hard time passing simple legislation that would address inequality.

An example of this type of legislation is Christopher’s Law (HB 0294, SB 0542). This bill would require police officers to receive annual training on issues pertaining to proper use of force, sensitivity to those with developmental disabilities, sensitivity to cultural and gender diversity, and training in lifesaving techniques such as CPR. It named for Christopher Brown, the Randallstown teenager who died after a physical altercation with off-duty Baltimore County Police Officer James D. Laboard in June 2012.

At this point in the MD Legislative session, the bill is currently stalled in the House Judiciary Committee. In order for it to be voted on in the General Assembly, it would need vocal support from prominent delegates in the committee.

Delegate Kathleen Dumais (15th District, Montgomery County) is the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee and has not been supportive of Christopher’s Law. According to anonymous sources in Annapolis, she has voiced opposition to the bill. It’s frustrating that someone as progressive as delegate Dumais, who is portrayed as someone is very progressive, has not championed a bill like Christopher’s Law, especially since she posits herself as a progressive liberal.

Throughout her career as an elected official, she has been extremely outspoken on liberal and progressive causes like Same Sex Marriage, Domestic abuse against women, Gun Control and Living Wage. As the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee, it would seem like her duty, as an ally to Black people, to help pass this out of committee.This development is deeply troubling to LBS and the supporters of Christopher’s Law. This especially troubling to the mother of Christopher Brown and Mothers of Murdered Sons (MOMS). They have worked tirelessly to see this bill pass and have been extremely active throughout the legislative process. Ultimately, Delegate Dumais’ stance (or lack thereof) is an just another example of the limitations of white liberalism. An astute observer can only suspect that her unwillingness to help Christopher’s Law pass is just an extension of white liberal, anti-Black racism that exudes from the Democratic party.
Call/Email/Tweet Delegate Dumais office and DEMAND that she support Christopher’s Law!
Phone: 301-858-3052
Twitter: @KathleenDumais1 – use the hashtag #ChristophersLaw

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