Ignoring the Sanders movement supports white supremacy

As I watch the corporate media—I’m talking CNN and MSNBC, not FOX—play down the Bernie Sanders movement, it’s clear to me that white people with money are trying to keep white supremacy in place. The corporate media’s coverage of the Sanders campaign’s successes has been bizarre. “Flatlined at first place,” is an oddly phrased take that a cable news pundit used (is there something higher or better than first place?). Or this:

We’ve seen racism throughout the election so far. Most glaring is how white people didn’t fund the candidates of color when they were in the race at the same rates they funded white candidates. The argument that white people just didn’t like Booker, Castro or Harris doesn’t ring true when their qualifications were more than Buttigieg’s and their policies were right in line with the other white candidates and Democratic voters.

Then there’s the fact that none of the candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination were or are problem-free when it comes to racism as individuals (with the exception of maybe Julián Castro but he wasn’t all-in for Medicare for All so I’d argue even Castro supported some racist policies). Some of the current candidates support more overtly racist policies like Bloomberg and Buttigieg and Klobuchar. Even Sanders, whom I support, has a racist history of trying to be “colorblind” (which is itself racist because it dismisses people’s identities and pretends race doesn’t matter) with claims that economic injustice was something that could be addressed while putting aside “identity politics.”*

So when a candidate proposes policies that would turn our current structures on their heads—healthcare for everyone, a Green New Deal, college for everyone, housing for everyone, and more—we see an absurd response from the mainstream corporate media and their political pundits. The idea of a more caring community rather than one driven by greed and a “protect mine” mentality makes lots of white people in power freak out.

Even though I support Sanders precisely because he envisions radical changes toward a caring economy, I include myself in this group of white people freaking out. I feel in my body the anxiety of wondering if my place in society might be lost. Right now, white cis women are inherently valued, especially white professional- and owning-class cis women. What will it be like if people “like me” aren’t the most protected group?

Honestly, I welcome the anxious feelings because I know I’m finding truth. I get to then move into trusting and relying on God (other white people might use meditation or deep breathing or intellectual techniques to calm themselves) and see that radically changing the structures of our systems will save the world. Literally. It can save the world if we turn into a caring place. Following the lead of many Indigenous people when it comes to being in community with the non-human world, for example.

The fact that I’m a wayyy “left” liberal and I feel nervous about changing the racist system tells me that white people more comfortable with “moderate” options are probably fighting nerves they may not even know they have, especially in the corporate media. Almost all of the news coverage is about people’s worries about the Sanders campaign rather than the extraordinary momentum of support across all socioeconomic and racial lines. The fact that the corporate media isn’t covering the Sanders supporters who are Black and Latinx, for example, but instead are telling us about people who are worried he’s “not electable,” shows where the white-owned media’s priorities lie: They don’t want much to change. They mostly want things to stay the same. They want the same “safe” options of tepid Klobuchar or Buttigieg. Even Warren was apparently too radical for them—and it’s true she’s closer to Sanders’ vision of changing the structures of our government—so they have played up her losses and ignored her support.

People of color are supporting Sanders (and Warren, still, despite her ongoing harm of Indigenous  people and losses of Black staffers in her Nevada offices). Rich and poor people of all flavors are working together to get him elected. The leadership in his campaign is full of Black and brown people of all genders. Most of all, he’s started trying to make it clear that we can’t separate racism and economic injustice. This post isn’t meant to be an advertisement for Sanders’ campaign, believe me, but as I watch the corporate media tell stories that don’t reflect the reality of his campaign I know it’s because they want to keep their power.

* Feminist Scholar Barbara Smith clarified that when she and the other women of the Combahee River Collective http://circuitous.org/scraps/combahee.html coined the phrase “identity politics” they simply meant, “Black women have a right to determine their own political agendas.” That’s it.

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So-called expediency might doom us all this election

The world and the nation has watched in horror as Donald J. Trump has taken the United States down an increasingly isolationist path complete with healthy servings of racism and xenophobia. His disregard for the rule of law and his authoritarian nature—and that lack of repercussions for either—have made it clear that our nation’s system of checks and balances are broken.

Despite his bumbling buffoon act, Trump has remade the federal judiciary with one in every four circuit court judges being a Trump nominee and two of his picks sitting on the Supreme Court. To be honest, his presidency has been almost a complete victory for the right. In less than four years, he has reshaped the country and held a mirror to our faces and what many of us are seeing is not pretty. 

In many ways, life in America has become a real-time version of the 2006 film Idiocracy

Which is why, as we enter presidential primary season 2020, the stakes are feeling higher than ever. Can the republic be saved? Or should the American empire, built on stolen land with the labor of stolen people, die a slow and painful death? 

For the majority of American voters, even those on the left, they just want to get back to normal or what passed for normal prior to 2016. Unfortunately, what used to pass for normal in this country was toxic and harmful for Black people, Indigenous people, other people of color (POC) and so many other marginalized groups. The American Dream was already a nightmare for us. Which is why many of us had the foresight to know that the odds of Trump winning were high and that we would be screwed.

However, no one listened to us then and apparently no one wants to listen to us now. 

And by “no one” I mostly mean the white people—poor, working class and middle class—who are also being harmed (particularly economically) but haven’t been pushed all the way to the margins because the GOP needs their votes. Those people still see faces like theirs in most positions of power and prosperity and thus many of them continue to feel like the system mostly works. They haven’t caught on yet that it doesn’t work for them either; it’s just that they will be the last ones to get the boots on their necks when the system is done with the rest of us.

As of this writing, after the debacle with the Iowa caucuses, and with the New Hampshire primary finishing up, it looks like Bernie Sanders is emerging as the Democratic front-runner with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg close to his heels. After existing in near anonymity with her Midwestern potato casserole, we have Amy Klobuchar rounding up the top three at the beginning of this primary cycle. We also have Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe “Corn Pop” Biden rounding up the rear. Yeah, I know we have a few other candidates but barring a miracle will we really be seeing much from Tulsi or Tom? And oh yes…I will be getting to Mike in a moment. 

Mind you, neither Iowa nor New Hampshire are racially or ethnically representative of the Democratic party (or the country, for that matter) but for some reason, we still look to these two very white states to give us the pulse of things. 

The next two states to have a voice will be Nevada, which uses the caucus system (hope they can get the results sooner than Iowa) and South Carolina. Both are states which are far more racially reflective of the country and both are states where large numbers of POC will cast their votes. 

Which is where the former New York City mayor, Michael “Mike” Bloomberg, enters the picture. In case you have been unplugged, Mike is a really, really rich white man who used to be a Republican (and literally just switched to Democrat a hot second ago–opportunism, anyone?) and who as mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013 made life a living hell for Black folks and other POC. 

In 2015, Bloomberg spoke at the Aspen Institute and said the following: “95% of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description and Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities 15 to 25.” You can read more about that speech here, as well as his thoughts on the controversial practice of stop-and-frisk. If you aren’t familiar with Bloomberg, you may also want to read some of his thoughts on redlining here. 

So at this point, you are probably asking yourself, why is any of this relevant? Isn’t the goal to save ourselves from another four years of the orange monster? Well, yes and no.

See, the thing is that the Democratic National Committee decided that the usual rules needn’t apply to any wealthy folks who can self fund their campaigns. Meaning that under some changes,  to participate in the February debate, candidates must earn at least 10 percent of voter support in four qualifying national polls, or 12 percent in two polls in Nevada or South Carolina. Alternatively, a candidate must earn at least one delegate from either Iowa or New Hampshire.

In layman’s terms, an uber-wealthy candidate can flood markets with advertising and pick up traction without doing any of the usual fundraising or getting to know the people. Meaning a self-funded billionaire candidate in particular can buy all types of visibility and go from people not knowing who they are to actually earning support from those people. In this case, Bloomberg—despite bypassing the work that all the other candidates have done—is polling well enough that he will be on the next debate stage. While his name is known to many as being the former mayor of New York City, what is lesser known is what happened during his time as mayor and the impact on marginalized communities like Black and other brown-skinned kids and young men. To be honest, as bad as it was, stop and frisk was merely one of the negative impacts. And that’s the problem.

Meanwhile, all the candidates of color have dropped out because they couldn’t raise the money to stay in the race. Andrew Yang was the last remaining candidate of color and he suspended his campaign after a dismal showing in New Hampshire. 

Look, I know it’s been rough under Trump; I am a Black woman in America and I get it. But with the national media turning its eyes on Bloomberg and virtually anointing him as the front-runner, despite earning nary a delegate, is frightening at best. 

Even the buzz around Bloomberg picking up Black votes feels disingenuous. It seems he is flooding Black markets with his ads and sadly the other candidates aren’t since—to be fair—they don’t have the same bottomless pockets that Bloomberg has. Even my teenager has come across his ads on her social media feeds. 

A few hours of researching Bloomberg will show that he is no kind, benevolent guy. In fact, he in many ways is just a superficially nicer and better put-together version of the current occupant of the White House. Also savvier and smarter and better able to hide his prejudices, which might make him more dangerous. Is oligarchy really better than dictatorship? Are a collection of rich oppressive boots on your neck better than one violent, unhinged and gleefully cruel one?

At this moment, there is a rallying cry that no matter who the Democratic nominee is, we must support that person. I disagree. Regular readers can pick up on the fact that we here at BGIM Media are no fans of Pete Buttigieg. His record on race in South Bend, Ind., doesn’t impress me and that is after me being contacted this past summer by his then director of black engagement. But as much as I dislike him, if he were to get the nomination, I would probably hold my nose and vote for him. 

However, Bloomberg is a rich man that plays by his own rules and has his own authoritarian leanings with a history of being anti-Black and misogynist, among many other unpleasant things. I am sorry, but as an anti-racist, I cannot support the nicer and more articulate version of Trump. 

This country is at a real crossroads, and it will require courage to get back on track even with the old system, much less changing that already fundamentally flawed system to something better. We cannot shortcut ourselves to an equitable and just nation. We cannot allow fear to be our guiding principle. Sometimes, change means that things will have to get really bad before we get to a better place. 

There is a new breed of politician rising up in this country and they don’t care about the little people. They aren’t interested in being of service to the people. They want a new shiny toy to be in control of. The American people are their new toys. All of them, not just marginalized communities.

After the past several years, we should know that and be ready to stand up for what is right, not what is expedient. We shouldn’t let “electable” be our guiding star, we should let our shared desires for a healthy nation that leaves no nation behind to be our North Star. 

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Reaching for racists before Black people is a bad look

You don’t have to take a population’s rights away in order to suppress them. You can just nullify the rights. We’ve been doing it in this country a long time. For instance, Black peoples’ right to vote is on the books, but literacy tests, poll taxes and gerrymandering are all tactics used to nullify that right ever since we attained it. While those are all great tactics, they’re not the best. The absolute best way to nullify our vote is to not give us a candidate who actually represents our interests. Problem solved.

This brings me to Mayor Pete. As of this writing he’s neck and neck with Bernie in the disastrous Iowa Caucus recount and he may well be the front-runner very soon. He did this by moving from a progressive candidate to a moderate candidate. While that move may have worked in Iowa, it doesn’t work on me. And by judging from his polling numbers, it doesn’t work on anyone who looks like me.

Some people see becoming moderate as a smart move, but I don’t. I see it as disingenuous. It means he’s not a man out to bring his vision of the country to the people. Instead he’s someone who’s interested in presenting himself to the world, and he’ll tell people whatever he thinks they want to hear in order to do that. That on its own is bad enough, but it’s actually much worse.

Right now the Republican Party is more openly racist than any other time in my memory. Mayor Pete’s lack of Black support leads to him becoming more moderate which means he’s trying to get Republican votes. In other words, including Black folks is too hard, so welcome in the racists!

The thing is, it’s actually pretty easy to get my vote for president. All you have to do is say what I want to hear. That’s what the whole system is based on, unanchored promises. Unfortunately for Pete, you have to listen to people in order to tell them what they want to hear. While he seems to have no problem doing that with “moderates,” he doesn’t really do that when it comes to Black people. Not to put too fine a point on it, but now is when it’s actually easy to support Black people. Now, when it’s just listening and unanchored promises. If he can’t even do that now, what chance could we possibly have if he’s actually got to face down the bigot army of Mitch McConnell? And now as I look at the potential for Nominee Pete, I think about walking into the voting booth, and having to choose between two motherfuckers who prioritize racists over me. Again. I think about all the white liberals who would want me to vote myself into oblivion for the sake of things like climate change despite their silence while people who look like me suffered under its causes and effects for decades. I think about voting on every other race and issue and just leaving the president boxes blank. Then I think about how some people would view that as not doing enough, as though voting for president could in any way fulfill your social obligation in 2020 America. Then I think about the 4.4 million people who think just like me and I genuinely wonder how long this thing can actually hold together.

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