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Member since: Sun Jul 4, 2004, 02:07 PM
Number of posts: 22,336

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Why Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders are good for each other


The conflict between Black Lives Matter activists and the Independent Vermont senator and 2016 Democratic candidate—protesters interrupted multiple Sanders speeches—has produced a newly reinvigorated campaign focus on racial justice and coincided with an unprecedented boost in visibility for the Sanders campaign.


In his platform, Sanders wrote about the need to end political, legal, economic, and physical violence against people of color in the United States, a position that aligns not just with many in the Black Lives Matter movement but more broadly to typical mainstream American liberals.

Instead of getting caught up in potentially damaging hostilities, it appears that the Sanders campaign is attempting—and to some extent succeeding—to use the protests as a way to form lines of communication and possibly support between vocal civil-rights activists and the Sanders camp.

How slavery still shapes racial inequality


Places are shaped by their histories, so we cannot truly understand what happens in places today without investigating those histories. History helps us understand the riots in Baltimore. It helps us understand South Carolina’s attachment to the Confederate flag and the accompanying backlash from Black citizens. Recently social science researchers have shouldered the challenge of examining how places in the South and elsewhere have been shaped by antebellum slavery.

This area of research is still growing, but already, study after study consistently shows that the structure of places is inextricably linked to their slavery history in a wide variety of ways, especially at a very local level. Researchers find that the stronger a place’s direct reliance on slave labor, the greater its contemporary racial inequality in terms of poverty, income, and educational attainment, its violent crime rate, its rate of judicial executions, and the sturdier its school segregation. These correlations remain strong even when accounting for a number of other factors that may affect the outcomes.

Despite the importance of this history to the way our contemporary social world works, our knowledge of slavery is often shrouded in a variety of myths, misinformation, and sometimes even outright lies. Scalawag seeks to disentangle some of those myths and misinformation by taking a look at antebellum slavery by the numbers.

First question MLK was asked on Meet The Press: "Aren't sit-ins hurting the negro cause?"

The transcription isn't well done, but this is interesting when compared to BLM.


[Lawrence Spivak]: Dr. King, the former president, Harry Truman, recently
said this, and I quote, “If anyone came to my store and sat down, I would throw 1960 him out. Private business has its own rights and can do what it ants." Now, Pres-
ident, former President Truman is an old friend of the Negro, I believe. Isn’t this
an indication that the sit-in strikes are doing the race, the Negro race, more harm
than good?

[King]: No, I don’t think so, Mr.Spivak. First, I should say that this was an unfortunate statement, and we were very disappointed to hear the president, the former president of the United States, make such a statement. In a sense a statement like this serves to aid and abet the violent forces in the South, and even if Mr. Truman disagreed with the sit-ins he should certainly disagree with them on a higher level. Following his past record, it seems to me that Mr. Truman wouldn’t have faced such a situation because there wouldn’t have been a segregated store in the beginning if he were running it, according to his statements in the past. Now, I do not think this movement is setting us back or making enemies; it’s causing numerous people all over the nation, and in the South in particular, to reevaluate the stereotypes that they have developed concerning Negroes, so that it has an educational value, and I think in the long run it will transform the whole of American society.

[Spiuak]: Well now you have yourself have said that the aim of your method of nonviolent resistance is not to defeat or to humiliate the white man but to win his friendship and understanding. How successful do you think you have been, or are being, in winning the friendship and understanding of the white men of the South?

[King]: Well, I should say that this doesn’t come overnight. The nonviolent way does not bring about miracles, in a few hours, or in a few days, or in a few years, for that matter. I think at first, the first reaction of the oppressor, when op pressed people rise up against the system of injustice, is an attitude of bitterness. But I do believe that if the nonviolent resisters continue to follow the way of non- violence they eventuallyget over to the hearts and souls of the former oppressors, and I think it eventually brings about that redemption that we dream of. Of course, I can’t estimate how many people we’ve touched so far; this is impossible because it’s an inner process. But I’m sure something is stirring in the minds and the souls of people, and I’m sure that many people are thinking anew on this basic prob- lem of human relations.

Occupy.com: An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders Supporters

I know this kind of thing is hard for people to read, but it's good for us to read stuff that challenges us. I decided to post it because it calls out the ridiculous assertion that BLM is funded by Soros, which just makes us look silly.


The primary process of a presidential election is a time where acts of disruption should be encouraged, no matter the target. In a healthy democracy, protesters' disruptions of candidates' stump speeches would be celebrated. Almost all of this year's presidential candidates are current or former governors, U.S. senators, or wealthy captains of industry and have the means to be able to have their voices heard at any time they like. But the people dying in the streets and living under the thumb of institutional racism don't have that privilege. And if they have to shut down a campaign event to force candidates and the media to acknowledge their epidemic and propose solutions, they'll do it.

As someone who has said they are the only candidate who can represent the oppressed underclass, and who has run on his record of sitting in to protest Jim Crow laws in the 1960s, Bernie Sanders deserves to be disrupted precisely for this reason. As unfair as it may seem to his supporters, it doesn't matter to young black people losing their friends and family today that a white liberal in the 1960s did what he was expected to do – the only thing that matters is what he's doing right now.

After getting interrupted at Netroots Nation, storming off the stage, and refusing to meet with Black Lives Matter protesters, Bernie Sanders wised up and hired Symone Sanders – a powerful, outspoken, young black woman who volunteers at the Coalition for Juvenile Justice – to be his national press secretary after she convinced him that economic inequality and racial inequality are interconnected. Bernie Sanders used to get called out by conservatives for omitting racial justice from his stump speech. But on Sunday he's since revised his website and stump speech to address about racial injustice issues of mass incarceration, voting rights, police militarization, and how black people are disproportionately targeted. This is proof that disruption works. And we need more of it, not less.

If your issue isn't getting talked about, and if a candidate is coming to your town for a public event, you should absolutely do everything you can to be heard. Last month, Hillary Clinton got heckled for her horrendous record on climate change. Protesters greeted Martin O'Malley at his campaign announcement in Baltimore, saying he "must atone" for propagating racially-biased policing as Baltimore's mayor. In New Hampshire, Scott Walker was the subject of a clever photo-op protest, regarding his campaign donations from the Koch Brothers. Protest is essential to political discourse, and protest only works if you succeed in changing the conversation. Was it rude for OutsideAgitators206 to interrupt Bernie Sanders? Yes. But did they succeed in pushing Black Lives Matter to the front of the conversation? Absolutely.

Economics vs. civil rights (BLM and Sanders)

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.
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