So, first, this is somewhat about the primaries, but is more about a larger and more long-term difference between two different kinds of progressives - those concerned primarily with economics, and those concerned primarily with social justice. (And that's a false dichotomy which I thoroughly reject, but the article is about that dichotomy regardless.)
Second, I don't like the title of the linked article so I didn't use it, because I think Sanders has heard the people (as he does - that's part of what I like about him) and it's no longer BLM vs. Bernie Sanders. I refuse to accept them as being in conflict with each other. There's been some messy communication, but Sanders listens with open ears and an open heart, and I believe he's doing just that with this issue. The idea that I have to choose whether I care about one or the other is another thing I reject.
I do think the following article explains differences which led to the problems we've seen and I think it's probably useful for people on either side of the issue to read, though I don't think the article is unbiased. I think it's biased toward BLM but I think it's still very worth reading and I hope people follow Bernie's lead and read it with open minds and open hearts.
Over the past 20 years, both within the Democratic Party and outside of politics, the vision of progressivism that's attracted the most energy and organizing strength has been a progressivism of identity: recognizing the different ways that various groups are marginalized, and working to reduce those disparities both in policy and in everyday interactions. But many progressives in the Democratic Party are inheritors of a labor-liberal progressive tradition that is primarily worried about economic inequality, and are most excited by economic populists like Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Sanders supporters see it as obvious that their candidate's platform would be better for people of color than any other candidate's, and they don't understand what else supporters would want. But for the activists challenging Bernie Sanders and his supporters, it's not enough for progressives or Democrats to call for policies that they think would help people of color they need to be listening to and incorporating the agendas of people of color themselves.
But the nexus of these two progressive politics within the Democratic Party is something of an exception to these trends. Many progressive voters are deeply worried about economic inequality, and about the domination of both the economy and politics by the superrich. To their minds, this is the existential crisis facing the country. Before the presidential election, the foremost progressive champion in Democratic politics was Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose entire political career has been built on taking on the financial industry. And Sanders is now generating Warren-like levels of excitement for his outspoken socialism. Remember, the rally he was holding in Seattle during the weekend that marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson was about defending Social Security. That doesn't mean Sanders or his supporters didn't care about Ferguson, of course, but it is a choice of emphasis.
The Democratic progressives rallying around Warren and Sanders may agree that racial or gender inequality is also a problem, but they may see it (as Sanders long did) as a problem that can best be solved by fixing economic inequality. Or they may see them as issues that politicians should address, but not necessarily ones they need to focus on. To nonwhite progressives, especially activists, this makes it feel like "progressivism" is still something for white people.
According to Dees, hatred runs deeper than many are recognizing. "The Confederate Flag is symbolic of that hate," explained Dees. He reminded us that in the early days of the civil rights movement, the flag was flown by Alabama's Governor George Wallace as a defiant message to Bobby Kennedy. Wallace was a segregationist and Kennedy was the U.S. Attorney General in charge of enforcing integration laws. Yes, taking down that flag is a beginning, but, as Dees explains, its removal from state capitals is not a remedy for the deep-seated hatred that it represents.
Less than a week after Dees' speech, racial divisiveness intensified outside the South Carolina State House. The New Black Panthers and the Klan held rallies on opposite sides of the Confederate flag issue. The New York Times reported that protesters waved Pan-African, Confederate and Nazi flags. Law enforcement intervened to prevent major violence.
There are those who expect the culture clash to become a quirky, distant memory as flags are finally removed. Isn't that what happened to the zippity doo-dah lyrics of Disney's film, Song of the South? Most of us have a similar distance to the "Way down yonder in the land of cotton" lyrics of the Confederacy's national anthem, Dixie. Yet, these memories do not disappear. Elvis' rendition of Dixie is alive and well on Youtube. So embedded in our society is the word Dixie, that I doubt anyone will ever demand that Dixie cups to be renamed.
Do not underestimate the staying power of Southern memories of the Civil War. The highway that cuts through Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia is called Battlefield Parkway. Down the road is the Chattanooga and Chickamauga National Military Park, a living Civil War Museum. Drive around the area and you'll see Civil War battles commemorated with road-side plaques, statues of the fallen, and memorial parks. Ancient canons left over from the war are considered heritage items and, by law, cannot be moved, even if they face your front door.
The funneling of black children through the school-to-prison pipeline is a dangerous trend that pervades society. As a result, black people make up a disproportionately high percentage of the prison population. For young black girls, the reality is that we make the largest growing demographic of incarcerated people in the U.S.
With #BlackLivesMatter rallies occurring across the nation, and tragic stories such as those of Natasha McKenna and Sandra Bland surfacing every week, its important now more than ever to center the experiences of formerly and currently incarcerated black women. Its crucial to acknowledge and amplify our voices if we wish to have a truly inclusive and liberating movement.
I have always been outspoken about my views regarding white supremacy and anti-black racism. The predominately white university I attended had a history of putting on minstrel shows, further marginalizing the already small black student body. I was hanging with friends one night and race was brought up. Feeling triggered, our conversation quickly escalated into a heated debate. Next I recall being pepper sprayed, slammed against a police car, and without my rights read to me, unfairly taken to jail. While behind bars, I was mistreated and neglected. I experienced physical abuse by correctional officers, who hurled misogynoiristic slurs at me. Even after release, I still carry the trauma. Many black women will continue to live through these conditions with some, like Natasha McKenna and Sandra Bland, even dying at the hands of our captors. If we really believe that black lives matter, we must actively take steps to show up for black women.
The last generation to make a real difference in the level of racism between their generation and the one before it was the Baby Boomer generation, and they did a great deal of active work.
Here's a good article: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/white-millennials-products-failed-lesson-colorblindness/
Mainstream dictionary definitions reduce racism to individual racial prejudice and the intentional actions that result. The people that commit these intentional acts are deemed bad, and those that dont are good. If we are against racism and unaware of committing racist acts, we cant be racist; racism and being a good person have become mutually exclusive. But this definition does little to explain how racial hierarchies are consistently reproduced.
Social scientists understand racism as a multidimensional and highly adaptive systema system that ensures an unequal distribution of resources between racial groups. Because whites built and dominate all significant institutions, (often at the expense of and on the uncompensated labor of other groups), their interests are embedded in the foundation of U.S. society.
While individual whites may be against racism, they still benefit from the distribution of resources controlled by their group. Yes, an individual person of color can sit at the tables of power, but the overwhelming majority of decision-makers will be white. Yes, white people can have problems and face barriers, but systematic racism wont be one of them. This distinctionbetween individual prejudice and a system of unequal institutionalized racial poweris fundamental. One cannot understand how racism functions in the U.S. today if one ignores group power relations.
This systemic and institutional control allows those of us who are white in North America to live in a social environment that protects and insulates us from race-based stress. We have organized society to reproduce and reinforce our racial interests and perspectives. Further, we are centered in all matters deemed normal, universal, benign, neutral and good. Thus, we move through a wholly racialized world with an unracialized identity (e.g. white people can represent all of humanity, people of color can only represent their racial selves).
Even when violence stems purely from delusion in the mind of someone whos genuinely totally detached from realitywhich is extremely rarethat violence seems to have a way of finding its way to culturally approved targets. Yeah, most white supremacists arent crazy enough to go on a shooting spree, most misogynists arent crazy enough to murder women who turn them down, most anti-government zealots arent crazy enough to shoot up or blow up government buildings.
But the crazy ones always seem to have a respectable counterpart who makes a respectable living pumping out the rhetoric that ends up in the crazy ones manifestodrawing crosshairs on liberals and calling abortion doctors mass murdererswho, once an atrocity happens, then immediately throws the crazy person under the bus for taking their words too seriously, too literally.
And the big splashy headliner atrocities tend to distract us from the ones that dont make headline news. People are willing to call one white man emptying five magazines and murdering nine black people in a church and openly saying it was because of racea hate crime, even if they have to then cover it up with the fig leaf of individual mental illnessbut a white man wearing a uniform who fires two magazines at two people in a car in a bad neighborhood in Cleveland? That just ends up a statistic in a DoJ report on systemic bias.
Not to think about these things is to betray the dead. Not to speak of these things is to dishonor them. Let Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, look out her window at the flag of treason that is flown proudly at her state capitol and think about these things, and speak of them, before she pronounces herself so puzzled at how something like this could happen in South Carolina, the home office of American sedition.
Let Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush, both of whom want to lead this troubled country, consider what it meant to absent themselves from campaign events in Charleston and think of these things and speak of them before they turn to their consultants about whether or not staying in a grieving city was what a leader should have done.
Let the elite political media that follows the two of them, roughly thrown into a maelstrom of actual news, look out onto the streets of Charleston and realize that politics exist for the purpose of governing a country, and not simply to entertain it.
Let Squint and the Meat Puppet think about these things and speak of these things before inviting Donald Trump, who is a clown and a fool, to come on national television and talk about his hair. Not to think about these things is to betray the dead. Not to speak of these things is to dishonor them.
Modern day lynching. But he just shot random black people instead of the specific one he's angry at. Of course I bet that's always happened too.
Racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. all go hand in hand. They are illness our society has. Deadly illnesses.
And the one that Roof used to rationalize his racist act was: women are beautiful, but their grace makes them fragile. Better that they stand back and let men defend them.
This argument is hundreds of years old, of course.
Its most clearly articulated in the history of lynching, in which black men were violently murdered routinely by white mobs using the excuse that they had raped a white woman.
Roof is the modern equivalent of this white mob. He believes that he and other white men own me and women like me you rape our women, he said possessively and so he justified gunning down innocent black people on my behalf. You are vulnerable, hes whispering to me, let me protect you.
What an entitled horrible horrible person: Supposedly he did it because girl he liked dated a black guy
From Tim Wise:
Before we dismiss this story as what it may well be -- an attempt to rationalize Roof's actions or at least humanize them -- let's reflect on the deeper and troubling meaning of this, if true. It appears as though the psycho-sexual insecurities of white manhood might be implicated in Roof's actions, in addition to other elements of racism. If so, this is supremely ironic, because it was only white supremacy --and its need to bestialize black men sexually and render them "threats" to white women (so as to control both those black men and the white women they supposedly coveted) -- that could have inspired this insecurity in the first place. Roof's insecurity and "shame" at "losing" "his woman" to a black guy was a "shame" he could only feel because this culture had so thoroughly inculcated the notion of a) white women as belonging to white men; b) white men as entitled to white women, and c) black men as hyper-sexual predators from whom those women need to be protected, but for whom they secretly lust anyway... White supremacist patriarchy is one sick ass philosophy of life.
Dalton Tyler, Roofs roommate, told ABC News that Roof spoke of starting a civil war and that he advocated racial separatism. He was big into segregation and other stuff. He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself, Tyler said.
Scott Roof, who identified himself as Dylann Roofs cousin, told me over the telephone that Dylann was normal until he started listening to that white power music stuff. He also claimed that he kind of went over the edge when a girl he liked starting dating a black guy two years back.
This scenario recalls a manifesto written by Elliot Rodger, who on May 23, 2014 gunned down six people in Isla Vista, California: How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me?
Dylann liked her, Scott Roof said. The black guy got her. He changed. I dont know if we would be here if not Roof then abruptly hung up the phone.
White Supremacy founded this country. It justified displacing and exterminating millions of indigenous people, for profit. It justified enslaving and trading fellow human beings, for profit. It continues to justify a system in which an elite few populate a hierarchically constructed top and are able to parcel out, or not, resources to the rest of us. Its 180° away from Americas stated democratic ideals. And it continues to be the organizing principle that constructs American institutions, American hearts and minds, and the American master narrative that one that tells us America was built by and for white people.
And get this: beyond who the White Supremacist culture values is what the White Supremacist culture values. In other words, if you cant look like a high-class, white, Christian, heterosexual, able-bodied dude, at least act like one. Oh, and dont get in their business. Dont rock the boat. Show emotional restraint, be on time, be efficient, and act independent. Also, choose data over anecdotes and intellect over instinct. And for Gods sake, understand that you exist in a hierarchy and stay in your damn place. There are all kinds of names for people who act outside of their assigned social boxes: bitch, uppity, pussy, crip, and NOCD among them.
Its this White Supremacist, stay-in-your-box, better-than/worse-than, bullying backdrop amidst which racial hatred, homophobia, misogyny, religious intolerance, classism, and other forms of oppression fester. And dont be fooledWhite Supremacy can come in seemingly benign packaging. Ive always found it easy to point my finger at people I see as bad and mean and racist yet, to some degree, all of it also lives in me. Images of white, male, Christian, able-bodied, hetero as normal and superior saturated my young life. How could I not have internalized White Supremacist norms? I would be lying to say Im anything other than a recovering White Supremacist.
How about you? Can you go there? Can you examine how White Supremacy manifests in your school? Your company? Your town? Your mind? Your heart? Can you see it? Feel it? Name it? This is what eradicating racism, I mean White Supremacy, requires. Lets go there.
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