You Don’t Get To Tell Me Bernie Sanders Is My Friend

If anyone had to name fifty white people in the 20th century that have helped Black people – literally committed themselves to the cause of Black people for longer than a march – Sanders probably wouldn’t make any of those lists. He certainly wouldn’t make any of the lists generated by Black people, and that’s because Bernie Sanders is not a racial justice crusader. And it’s okay to say that out loud.

In the 1960s it wasn’t the hardest thing in the world for someone like him to step into that movement and play a part. Even someone on the fence with their racism could see how wrong segregation was and how inhumanely Black people were being treated under it. That’s so easy we still allow teachers to teach it that way in schools: that the television saved Black people by enlightening white people over dinner about racism. That doesn’t make Sanders bad or mean he never cared about Black people. But we didn’t check everything off the Black problem to-do list in 1964. Black problems persist. And because they persist, people who work to solve those problems must be measured on a “what have you done for me lately” yardstick.

People need to stop treating marching with King like an Erdös number. At what point do we get to move beyond you being a thing, and you used to being a thing? Because in 2015 Bernie Sanders is to Black liberation what Kim Kardashian’s book career is to publishing: it’s just enough effort to be able to put it on your resume. I know that sentence is hard to read, Bernie fans, but I need you to understand what I said from the beginning: the problem isn’t that Sanders has been walking around trumpeting Black causes without doing Black work. He’s not a hypocrite. He hasn’t been doing black work for a long time, nor has he been trumpeting the causes. By your own count, he hasn’t done the actual work in fifty – FIFTY – years. But that just makes him just like every other white American. In that way his efforts are completely average at best. No, the problem is with the movement around Sanders, which is so eager for his success that they interpret any criticism of his platform or history as an enemy attack.

One of my favorite writers, Harlan Ellison, makes a big deal out of the fact that he, too, marched with King. And yet, that doesn’t stop him from exhibiting a bit of racism, in saying something or mocking something in a way that is racist, in personifying a person or character in a racist manner. So what am I to do with this person, this person who believes enough in civil rights and Black people to march with King, and yet remains in part a racist, and has lived his life as such longer than he has pre-Marched with King? I’ll tell you: I measure him by his acts, or lack thereof. I do not give him credit where it is not due. I never give him a pass because he marched with King fifty – FIFTY – years ago. I don’t necessarily set out to check up on his race relations stats every month or anything, but I also don’t let anybody try to tell me what he is or isn’t on the issues…especially on MY issues. If marching with King was all it took to make someone not racist, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, not because Ellison and Sanders and any other non-Blacks who marched with King would have been cured of their racism, but America would have been cured of its racism. We would have kidnapped white people and forced them to march every day if that’s actually how that worked.

Except that’s not what racism means, is it? It hasn’t meant “bad white guy” in a long time. And by “in a long time” I mean “ever.” Sure, we collectively thought it meant “bigot” for a long time, but it’s 2015. Most of us know better now. And so it’s important for us to keep checking our own gauges and filters on the issue.

But let’s be clear:

I refuse the narrative that Black people need white people to survive. We don’t. We will survive without the half-largesse of well-meaning, good intentioned white folks. That doesn’t mean we won’t accept their help. What it does mean is that their help is going to have to come on our terms – our definitions, our values, our goals, our history, our knowledge, our life stakes, our context. You don’t get to tell us what qualifies you or anyone else as representative of our struggle. You don’t get to designate representatives at all! If #BlackLivesMatter should be teaching you anything it is that representative anti-racism is dead. Collective anti-racism – deconstructing anti-racism as an institution and not a Whack-a-Mole game – is the goal. We’re not playing chess anymore, where we keep sending our best lights into your worst darkness. You eat our lights. Your darkness is all-consuming. It is too large, too vast, too ingrained. That I am today telling all of this to our so-called allies is proof enough of how deep the darkness of racism is, how slick its sides, how insidious its nature.

Because that’s the real crime here: it’s not Bernie Sanders…it’s people who support Bernie Sanders and can’t take a criticism of their man that isn’t in their interest. Look at the audacity – the sheer balls – of the white people telling Black people how they should accept him, and under what terms. How he is the “best candidate on race”. How we should be glad he’s fighting for us. How something he did fifty – FIFTY – years ago is enough. ENOUGH. Enough what, evidence of his feelings? I cannot eat evidence of his feelings. Enough what, proof that he was going to do something for black people if he ever became president? I cannot protect Black people from police with the forced nascent proof of his good intentions.

Your fucking audacity is galling and offensive. You’re telling Black people who their best leader is, who their hope should lie in. That, my friend, is completely and utterly racist.

I refuse that narrative, not because I dislike white people, but because waiting for enough white people to care to the point of continued, relentless activism to make a difference relies on waiting on a magic number of Black people to die. And apparently, despite mounting evidence of a “problem”, we have yet to achieve that magic number of dead black people. Even in clumps we have not hit it. Nine people shot dead in a prayer meeting is not enough. Dozens upon dozens of videos capturing the nearly literal war being waged on Black people institutionally by police is not enough. Being able to click a button and observe for one’s self violence committed on non-white people by police literally from our pregnant wombs to the elderly walking in their own neighborhoods is not enough.

So you will forgive me if I did not see in Sanders campaign the means through which that would be addressed, let alone resolved, before last week. You will forgive me for pointing that out. You will forgive me for standing behind people willing to disrupt your pep rallies to show that we’re still here, that this is still happening, and that it is still worthy of your attention and, my god, a political platform.

If his supporters had just said, “You know, that issue is important. Thank god Bernie addressed the racial platform now” instead of demonizing the protesters, we’d have nothing to argue about. Your candidate was made more well-rounded politically, was made more culturally astute and relevant, and more genuinely interesting as a candidate (and a news story, by the way). So the only thing Black people should really be hearing from Bernie supporters is, “Thank you.”

And then, based on how convincingly you offer it, we get to choose if you are, indeed, welcome.

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104 thoughts on “You Don’t Get To Tell Me Bernie Sanders Is My Friend

  1. Thank you for this. I live in Seattle and as you can imagine, there’s been a lot of heat this week on this topic. A lot of my friends are Sanders supporters and are having too much trouble hearing their man criticized–but they need to get through that and understand why.

    1. I’m actually fine with criticism, but there’s a big chunk of this article that feels like it’s making bad assumptions and adding invective, personal attacks where there doesn’t need to be any. This feels like a big “FUCK OFF” to white allies.

      “I refuse the narrative that black people need white people to survive. We don’t. We will survive without the half-largesse of well-meaning, good intentioned white folks… Because that’s the real crime here: it’s not Bernie Sanders… it’s people who support Bernie Sanders and can’t take a criticism of their man that isn’t in their interest. Look at the audacity – the sheer balls – of the white people telling black people how they should accept him, and under what terms. How he is the “best candidate on race”. How we should be glad he’s fighting for us… Your fucking audacity is galling and offensive. You’re telling black people who their best leader is, who their hope should lie in. That, my friend, is completely and utterly racist.”

      Pointing out a historical footnote isn’t the same as telling black people how to think/feel about someone.

      1. I do not understand why this writer is trying to change non-racists into racists. Guaranteed, racism still exists, but hopefully there are more of us that don’t see color. There has been so much police brutality lately that it is mind altering. I despise George Zimmerman who got away with murdering a 17 year old kid and Obama was right in sending his condolences. Should have attacked Hillary or a GOP member, not Bernie. He has done nothing to injure black lives. I would like to remind those in BLM that whites call other whites “white trash” if they think they deserve the title.

      2. I think a big part of being a white ally is knowing when to take a seat. when it’s not about you, but about something bigger. Pointing out a historical footnote isn’t in and of itself racist or dismissive, but when it’s said in response to people of color stating their concern, outrage, criticism etc, it is telling someone how to feel, and playing out a racist dynamic of white superiority. It’s absolutely telling people of color how to feel, “for their own good.” I’m also white, and I’d like to respectfully suggest that as white folks, we don’t get to determine when there is and isn’t a need for criticism, outrage, personal attack or invective. We can dislike being on the receiving end, or the discomfort it makes us feel, but to assume that a critique is only valid if we think it is, well, that’s just white superiority rearing it’s head. We are not the deciders or the verifiers, especially not of another person’s experience, feelings or outrage. It’s sort of like when the men in my office said that calling out sexism was a “personal attack with no basis in reality.” thanks for that, but as one of only a few women in the office, i get to be the one to say if a. i experienced sexism or not, b. how i feel about it, and c. what the best response is. If my stating that feels bad, uncomfortable or like a fuck you to another person, however well-meaning, well, they gotta face their own discomfort and deal if they wanna be my friend or ally.

      3. I would argue that telling people how to think/feel about a candidate is normal campaigning. The author hasn’t really thought through what people should do instead and if he did he’d run into the problem of telling people do something after saying don’t tell us to do stuff.

      4. No, pointing out a historical footnote is not the same thing as telling black people how to think/feel about someone… telling black people we should not demonstrate at his rallies because he has a historical footnote IS.

      5. If being criticized by black people is enough to make you stop being an ally, you were never worth a damn as an ally to begin with. If criticism from black people turns you into a racist, it can’t have been a long trip.

      6. I felt the same negativity, and nothing positive to balance it out. It’s written from anger, but that anger is directed at all white people.

      7. Marlene so-called color blindness is racism. We white people are good at pretending not to see reality. We have the “willful ignorance” to keep ourselves comfortable while people of color are being murdered with impunity by the police. Pretending not to see a crime is siding with the perpetrator. Also, why miss out on the beauty of color? Why live in a drab, monochrome world?

      8. Ditto to John Seavey: “If being criticized by black people is enough to make you stop being an ally, you were never worth a damn as an ally to begin with. If criticism from black people turns you into a racist, it can’t have been a long trip.”

        I’m white and I’m cheering for BLM. I’m a Hillary supporter, and while she’s not perfect, she’s been in the trenches with political issues involving women and people of color here and around the world for decades. I have all kinds of issues with Bernie, not the least of these is that his economic talk doesn’t involve race and gender talk. He’s an old-fashioned socialist who clearly hasn’t studied and adopted the interconnectivity of race, class, gender, sex, and other markers of identity. He’s not known for his life in these movements; he’s known for his rhetoric in the US Senate.

        I trust that BLM is going to challenge Hillary and all of the other candidates on their attitudes and their policies. Bring it on! The campaign is a lot richer and more real for the presence and voice of Black Lives Matter. Any white person who’s done anti-racism work gets it, and for those who haven’t done the work, your lack of engagement with black lives and voices is showing.

      9. If black folks are being told that Bernie is your best bet and he hasn’t done anything in 50 years and had to be goaded into commenting on the clear and present assault of young black men and women by police officers then that is indeed attempting to tell black folks how to think and who they should get behind. If the democratic party has done nothing for black folks since LBJ, AND THEY HAVEN’T, then the democratic party needs to have their feet held to the fire. Afterall. as much as I agree that gays and lesbians need protection under the law to marry, etc. they are not murdered by angry white men who are getting away with it. As much as repubs claim that democrats have done nothing for blacks and that blacks should come over to their side, who really believes that republicans will do anything other than what they’ve done since Barry Goldwater – and that is cater to the most racists whites in America.

      10. Actually LGBT people are murdered with impunity all the time. Trans people of color are especially vulnerable. The mainstream gay rights movement tends to ignore the suffering of trans and gender variant people, especially if the are not white. They just made a movie about Stonewall that removed the main activists, people like Sylvia Rivera who was a trans woman and Latina. She died in deep poverty, abandoned by the mainstream movement.

      11. I have many white friends and this thinking is so white privilege that it’s sad. Your minimal efforts in the fight against racism and socioeconomic equality didn’t earn you a pat on yhe back and somehow you feel like you’re being told to eff off. Well, until you tell me that you did some THINGS as drastic as turning down the comforts of a pay raise or actually purposely placed yourself at disadvantaged in the very pointed purpose of ENDING this crap, I have to ask…what makes you an ally? You’re just a shade to the right of being neutral. Like the writer said, we don’t need you. Your sympathy is ineffective.

      12. And so we continue to tear into each other while nothing actually advances. We turn on each other, and Donald Trump’s poll numbers continue to rise. You speak of what is not being done, yet put forth nothing realistic to be done. “Turn down a pay raise”? When we already know that most people are barely scraping by? Not even the author equates ally with total, life-commitment 24/7 to the cause. Allies stand together in common cause. They work together.

      13. I don’t think it reads as a “F-off”. Your response suggests you need to read it again, and perhaps again – till you get it.

    2. You don’t “get to tell me” someone’s my friend either. No one “gets to tell” anybody anything. Your anger is one thing, your subject is another, your victim is another, re-thinking is another. My people (Bernie’s too) were killed in the Holocaust, and everyone’s lives matter. Can you ask him to say something instead of being angry that he hasn’t already said it?

      1. It did not seem like he was angry at Bernie for not having thought to say something. It seems he is saying that he has an issue with the folks surrounding Bernie who think that BLM should not have confronted Bernie on his silence. No one expects repubs to speak up for blacks but democrats routinely count on blacks for their vote and there have been times when the black vote won the election. No one gets angry when gays loudly protest, why are they getting angry when blacks protest? Blacks are being murdered. I get this post completely.

  2. Don’t like Bernie? OK – then WHO would you vote for? (and remember – not voting is a vote for some Bagger creep). All this is accomplishing is making Bernie look weak, because he won’t attack like the other side will. Where are your Cruze or Bush protests???
    What do they think their point is? If someone had derided Obama in 08, or 14, because he ‘wasn’t doing enough for blacks, they would have thrown a fit! Or Jessie J, or Clarence Thomas…
    Vermont is 1% black. Bernie was never in this for political reasons. It’s the humanity he believes in.
    I don’t believe this group’s politics at all. They have to be plants for the ‘right’. Or, they are insane! Is Bernie a saint? No. But he seems to have a better track record than Obama – who didn’t have much of a record coming in, and really hasn’t done that much, for the race.

    1. Protesters have been concentrating on progressive candidates, rater than the terminally racist republican party because this isn’t an attempt to make candidates ‘look weak’ or discredit them for the sake of damaging their reputation (necessarily). It is an attempt to draw more attention and focus to racial issues which most white ‘progressives’ tend to care less about and which tend to be pushed to the background. It is an attempt to say that in 2015, to run as a progressive on economic grounds alone is not enough. Even if one considers Bernie the ‘best’ candidate on a lot of progressive issues which affect people of color, its not ok to exclaim “this is the best candidate you have been given, how dare you question that? Take what you can get.”

      I am a Bernie supporter, and was personally thrilled by the demonstration, and the ensuing updates to his platform and revision of focus.

      1. Pointing out that there is a problem is step one. Proposing a solution is step two. Both are necessary.

      2. I like Bernie because of his willingness to speak out against corporate greed. But to begin the house cleaning, it must begin at home first. Interrupting progressive candidates now, enables them to make strong positions for justice and equality for everyone now, it also allows them to out distance republican bullshit artists with strong points on issues affecting every American, not just republican voters.

      1. I agree. Instead of hearing how his race affected his interactions, they chose to see this as him being anti-white. Sad. If would be like FDR commenting on his handicap and people saying he was feeling sorry for himself or something else that equally missed the point.

    2. You are missing the point. This is not about voting, or Bernie, or the ‘best alternative’. Go back and read this again and then go read more things about white people trying to help. Please.

      1. I’m sure people said the same when Latinos protested about immigration and when gays and lesbians protested for marriage rights. They weren’t polite, why should blacks be polite. If it left a bad taste in your mouth and your think getting angry about the murder of black men and women is throwing a tantrum then perhaps you should look inward.

      1. Check her record (after Bill left office over 15 years ago) and her funding again, and you will see exactly who she’s interested in helping. ( Hint: the initials are HRC)

      2. Human Rights Campaign? Right on!
        I know her record. She’s done what she had to do to play with the big boys, and she still has been in the trenches around the world. Her name is synonymous with women’s rights globably, and it’s a testimony to SEXISM in media and politics that women’s lives matter so little here that she gets no credit for that. There’s always a man who think he can do the job of President better. Well, if Hillary Clinton — First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State — can’t get elected President, no woman can. And that is disgusting.

      3. “Did what she had to do to play with the big boys”? Ten years ago, I might have agreed with you. Now, she’s just another politico who’s been bought by big money. Look at her position on Minimum Wage, for example. It’s not sexist to disagree with her. I’m disagreeing with everyone who is putting their pockets over the need that is out there.

  3. Well, put. The argument that Sanders has Civil Rights credibility because he marched with Martin Luther King Jr is silly. Geraldo Rivera was down with the Young Lords back in the day, and few Latino activists would have anything positive to say about his commitment to the Latino community. It should be noted, however, that Sanders argument is for economic justice, which in his mind, is (a) basis for racial justice and equality. Surely, if there is a more equitable economic system, one that encourages productive investment in all communities, with fair lending practices, access to training, good education, and quality, well-paying jobs for everyone, working people and all, then folks of all ethnic or racial backgrounds would benefit. That’s the theory, and, down the road, that could be the reality. However, the issues of race and class are painful, deadly, even, in the present. And, Sanders (like pretty much every other mainstream politician, whether running for President or not) doesn’t deal with those in any coherent, productive manner. This is not to say that a Sanders presidency might not be better for black people than anyone else, but it isn’t clear that it will help making it easier for a black man to hail a cab, let alone being harassed by cops whenever they fell like it.

    1. The police should have to take mandatory classes that would teach them how to respond and how not to. They should never be given a free ride because they are a cop. They should be coerced into following certain guidelines. In my opinion, cops are too gun happy, meaning that they are against gun control and the fact that a gun gives them power. There are many instances of cops killing their spouses too.

  4. I’m one of the old, white liberals who worked in the civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s. I support Black Lives Matter and I wish everyone well in dismantling the oppressive system we live in. However, telling us that we need to sit down and shut up isn’t wise strategy for building an inclusive movement. We aren’t your enemies. Many of us have continued to work in this movement for decades. Is there more work to be done? Hell yes. And it will take all of us to do it.

    1. Anyone who is really “down with the movement” and is white wouldn’t take offense to Black folks saying “sit down and shut up and open your ears,” as white people as a whole need to do so in regard to racism and a white person who gets it would understand that they can never separate themselves from white people as a whole. If white people have work to do in this movement it is most certainly first on themselves and then with other white people, so that more and more white people can get it and stop being naively or otherwise, obstructionist. If one is a white person who “get’s it” and this is never and will never be without error, one would recognize that she will never be done doing her work FIRST (as in before educating others) of unlearning the racism that has been programmed into her. If being asked to consider this brings up anger or prideful feelings, well that would be a red flag that there is a lot more to unpack.

    2. Wrong, no one likes being told to sit down and shut up. Why disliking hearing an activist say it is supposed to be a reflections of your views on race is something you haven’t really thought through very carefully. Your talking of racism being programmed and undone by “work” shows that you have unexamined assumptions about the way human psychology works that probably aren’t correct. No one likes being told to shut up, so a negative reaction to it comes from that, not some deep Freudian unconscious stuff that needs to be worked out.

    3. I’m sorry I missed where he told you to sit down and shut up. What I saw was him saying that Sanders inner party had no right to tell the BLM protestors to sit down and shut up because Bernie was their best bet.

  5. Bernie Sanders did NOT just march as this article alludes to. He was jailed numerous times before the march, and after. He has been working his butt off during the civil rights movement AND EVER SINCE, before running for president. One can Youtube him and see him time and time again fighting for ALL. For the one percent, the middle-class, for those incarcerated, education, housing, civil rights, YES civil rights in the here and now. It’s all there. Showing him fighting the good fight on the congress floor. I know. I am a C-Span junkie, and have seen him time and time again on the congress floor for years. Sure, Bernie isn’t that misinformed authors friend, but he sure is a friend for those in the know of what he is about. What you see is what you get. A phony he is not. He is about what is fair and right. Always has been. And this article seems like a rightwing rant, without any substance. Lacking information much, Scott Woods?

    1. This article attacks good non-racist families and friends. He is doing us an injustice as well as himself. Should have tempered (no pun intended) the anger before writing this document.

      1. I think the headline sums up his point very well. He is not critiquing anyone other than Sander’s inner circle and anyone who says they have no right to bring their concerns to Bernie. Don’t you think they would have had a sit down with Bernie if they could have? BLM wasn’t on their radar. I don’t understand anyone getting upset with this man’s anger over the death of young black men and women at the hands of the police which is the bottom line for him. We should all be appalled at what is happening.

    2. I agree. The author apparently did not do any research about what Bernie Sanders has been about every day since that day FIFTY years ago. Either that or the author is a right wing or Hilary supporter.

      1. I’m constantly amazed how people read an article but don’t actually comprehend it, then go about making comments disparaging something they obviously didn’t understand in the first place. The fact that these comments were even made prove the point of the author. You just refuse to get it. That’s really sad.

      2. I agree with Brandy. Many of these comments seem like a mass delusion. Many completely missed the point of the article, even though, for once, a headline is rather accurate in summing up the subject.

    3. Charlton Heston also marched with Dr. King but at his death he was about as right wing as one can get. As the writer stated, BLM is at the “what have you done for me lately” stage. No one has a problem when gay people or undocumented immigrants protest but the fact that one would get angry because this writer is angry about Sanders inner circle saying don’t protest at a Bernie rally is ridiculous. I get why BLM wouldn’t bother with a repub event – though I think they should; republican candidates have appealed to the more racist nature of their base than to their decency. If your allies are not listening to you, how else do you get their attention. Do you think they were on Bernie or Hillary’s radar prior to the protest. I’ll tell you. NO. Now they are. Dems have counted on the black vote since FDR but more and more young blacks refuse to vote because they see no difference in either party and in how it affects them. Bernie and Hillary can turn that around if they choose.

    4. Sorry, but your history is off. I knew many of the white civil rights activists who were and still are part of the movement. He wasn’t one of them. Sure – he got arrested and fined – 25 bucks. You show me where he put his life on the line.

      Nuff said.

  6. I have a friend with cancer who lives alone. She’s in a world of trouble because she won’t accept help except on her own terms. It’s a very limiting way to be.

  7. My fellow white people: The Black Lives Matters protesters were not accusing Bernie Sanders of being a secret member of the KKK. Stop acting like it was a character assassination when it clearly wasn’t.

    They are making the case that that Bernie had not yet at that point made a clear position on racial justice issues: He has side-stepped the topic of racial justice by talking about economic justice.

    Race and economics are related, but it is insufficient to talk about one but not the other. To the Black Lives Matter activists, Bernie’s silence on racial justice was a problem that they wanted to see redressed.

    Those concerns are valid and deserving of a platform. As a candidate running on a platform of progressive equality and justice for all, Bernie is *exactly* where those activists were justified in taking their concerns.

    Most importantly, whether or not Bernie has successfully met those concerns isn’t our call to make. Not everything is about us and our opinions: Get over it and learn how to listen.

  8. waiting for enough white people to care to the point of continued, relentless activism

    What it does mean is that their help is going to have to come on our terms – our definitions, our values, our goals, our history, our knowledge, our life stakes, our context. You don’t get to tell us what qualifies you or anyone else as representative of our struggle. You don’t get to designate representatives at all!

    so your plan for success is white people are supposed to be pursuing relentless activism by acting and thinking as told. I agree with a previous poster you probably should work on a little inclusion of the people who openly support the equality you seek. Just glad the man who had no credibility since he hadn’t gone to jail for activism in 50 years was able to prove to you (what we already knew and where trying to say)by updating a web page.
    for myself i can say No matter how poorly you respond to those of us who are like you,trying to make this a better place for all i will continue to try.

    For that you are welcome.

  9. While I think that much of what you have to say rings true, does putting conditions on who helps you achieve equality and justice and how they help you really add to the equation? Shouldn’t white folks who want to help in some way be welcomed instead of lectured on their inadequacies? As a member of a different group who have been stigmatized, ostracized and murdered for thousands of years because of that genetic membership card, I can only say, isn’t some help better than none?

  10. Thank you to #BLM for pushing hard on the issues. I have cringed to see outright racist and ignorant comments from Bernie supporters. I’m sorry that you all have had to put up with that. I’m sorry also that #BLM peeps had to put up with the additional pile on of the well meaning Bernie Sanders supporters who were/are acting critically out of enthusiasm for Bernie, and not understanding how they were coming off. And then of course putting up with outright racist non Bernie Sanders ppl who were just piling on for sick fun, a sad sight; sorry you had to put up with that too.

    I believe black lives matter AND black feelings matter. I believe that the onus is on white people to be compassionate and thoughtful in communication when situations like Seattle happen, b/c black people who are working on these issues and experiencing life here in a racist society are completely tuned in to the what is happening and are therefore understandably going to be sensitive, angry, sad, and frustrated at various times. If you are white person and you don’t like what you see in some black leaders or #BLM tactics, it is probably better to just be ask yourself i you personally really need to say something. If you don’t like an action for what you think is a very legitimate reason, chances are you will find black ppl who agree with you; go retweet or reblog them if you must. If you don’t understand why to do it that way, then watch this and rethink it. Escalation based purely on logic from your perspective is not going to help us all fix this society.: http://www.boston.com/entertainment/theater-arts/2015/06/24/white-woman-and-black-man-speak-for-each-other-call-attention-privilege/FN5jLVPqdPjrZLrHVxCEDJ/story.html

    On the point of 50 years no action and Bernie, I am wondering if you knew that in 2009, Bernie Sanders co-sponsored a bill to apologize for slavery. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/111/sconres26
    It is long past time for truth and reconciliation, but I think if it would have passed it would have been a great step. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/111/sconres26/text

    I hope that these comments are helpful.

    (from a white woman, #BLM tweeter, Bernie supporter)

  11. Many progreesives have been asking why they don’t protest at a Republican candidates rally. The keep asking, as the article points out, why they would attack Sanders when he is a friend of their cause.

    If they had done this at a Republican rally,they would have been cheered by progessives, instead of being called names and having people say that they would have punched them in the face.

    People know that racism exist in the Republian party, so it would be nothing new. Why they chose Sanders was because he was speaking in Seattle and that is where they are from. Some of their concern was about the state of racism in Seattle.They know that the battle is with conservaties. Everybody knows that. To point it out would be redundate.

    Their purpose was to tell white progressives that they need to do more in the fight against racism. And that they speak for themselves and don’t want progressives to think that blacks are going to support anyone that progressives tell them too, They also don’t want their vote taken for ganted..

    I can understand why they think they need a harsh tone, but it a turnoff in trying to get people to accept what you are saying

  12. Okay. We’re all thinking more about BLM, and Bernie has been talking about it and telling us what he’s going to do to fix race problems (and we know he’ll really try to do whatever he says he’ll do). So what do you want us White Liberals to do to help? Get out of the way, or speak out, or what??

    1. I think it’s a no brainer for everyone to speak out against racism and oppression in every way. I’m not gay but whenever I hear homophobic comments I speak up. I’m not Jewish but when I hear anti-Semitic comments, I speak up. I speak up (and not in a mean way) because it lets people know that not everyone thinks like they do. I’m not going to let you be comfortable saying something abhorent because I don’t want to hurt your feelings or because we like each other. I want my child to live in a world that really does celebrate diversity – not ignore it because that’s not realistic.

  13. Thank you. And, as a Bernie supporter, I’d like to say I’m sorry for the behavior of many other Bernie Supporters. Honestly, I think the protesters chose the right person as their first target, because I believe he’d be the one who’d be the most open to including this in his platform, and the one who’d be the most sincere about it. But that’s not for me or any other white liberal to decide; that’s for the black community to decide. I hope our two groups can become allies. If not, best of luck to you all anyway, and my heart and prayers go out to you.

    1. I believe white Sanders supporters should be glad he is now working with Black Lives Matter. If CODEPINK can interrupt politicians to end war, then BLM has that same right.

  14. I like the fact that BLM activists don’t necessarily view Sanders with rose-colored glasses and are willing to point out obvious facts that people don’t want to hear about their guru. Still, I think the author wants to make normal candidate promotion into something it’s not. Your guru is a good person and you think people should vote for him. Responses by people like Gretchen asking “what I should do” show exactly what’s wrong with the author’s line of argument. People are wrong to talk about a topic because of who they are rather than what they are trying to say. Not everyone should have to drop everything and become a BLM activist- telling people to do so would be patronizing.

    1. Let me clarify: on the one hand the author is making normal candidate promotion into something it’s not- if you try to persuade people to vote for who you like then it means you’re being patronizing. On the other hand he’s failing to recognize that normal campaign is pretty much telling people how to think and feel about your preferred candidate. If someone is wrong about their candidate or wrong on the issues you can explain why rather than saying they are wrong to speak because of who they are. Why does the author get to tell people they don’t get to tell people stuff?

      1. I think he was saying Bernie Sanders’ people don’t get to tell BLM that they have no right to confront Bernie because he’s nicer than the republicans.

      2. I agree with the poster. WHERE did the author say anyone had to drop everything and devote their energy to BLM? That seemed to be your assumption. His main point was why do I need to believe in Bernie just because you think he’s the nicer candidate or the least likely to hate blacks, etc.

    2. “Not everyone should have to drop everything and become a BLM activist” See, here’s where you’re going wrong.

  15. As an old, white geezer, I sure hope I don’t get so fragile as so many folks commenting here seem to be. The proper response is an indication that I read it then humble silence. Thank you, Scott.

  16. Mr. Woods, no forgiveness should be needed; criticism of our leaders, aspirant and elected, is not simply a right due to all American citizens…but a civic duty. That your statement needs to be phrased in such a manner, even for effect, is incredibly problematic.

  17. Still, why is the BLM movement going so hard against Bernie? Is there a better candidate they can think of? I understand the point of the article, but Sanders is truly the best candidate for their objectives. I feel like this is some cheap tactic employed by Hilary campaign to steal black votes. And fuck Hilary.

    1. After you finish F@#&%ing her, you either vote for her or risk a Republican led White House, Congress, Justice and SCOTUS for a long time. That would be a far cry from the missed opportunity of a Sander’s administration. Sanders administration.

      1. Oh that’s BULL and you know it. The tea party had EXACTLY one black member and he was the black guy who always wore the cowboy hat. At one point when they were accused of being racist they hired a black guy but he didn’t last long. Tea partiers are definitely racist even though they are old people who are aware they are going to die sooner than the rest of us and they’re trying to convince God that they are not racist but it’s not possible to convince us because we all know they are. (This is tongue in cheek but it’s mostly true also.)

  18. (Setting aside that the protestor in Seattle was a self described radical Christian and Sarah Palin supporter…)
    It seems that Bernie supporters are so irritated with this protest because they feel he’s the last candidate to disagree with the message of the protestors. Out of all the candidates, it makes the least sense to interrupt someone that agrees with you.
    Why not have a conversation instead of yelling? Why not save the yelling for someone more deserving?

  19. Over the years there have always been efforts to discredit progressive candidates from the supposed left. These are not accidental events. You can always count on the most dedicated radicals to be the plants.

  20. As a straight, white male and Bernie supporter I have no problem at all with what BLM did at the rally. Shame on anyone who boo’ed them, I say. Sure, Bernie’s not the enemy of black people (there are plenty in power who are); sure he actually has a history of actively standing up for civil rights. But, that doesn’t mean he should be given a pass because he’s one of the “good guys.” Holding him accountable now, while he’s running for President, in whatever way that works and forces him to once again actively stand up and address the issues head on, is a very, very good thing for him, for the 2016 campaign and for America. And getting some serious media attention for the BLM movement is a great thing too. This conversation is so way overdue it freaking hurts. I say go for it BLM, you can tell me to sit down, shut up and listen anytime!

  21. I have 2 questions to the author of the above piece:
    1) Which current candidate has done more, and recently, on race issues? Hillary? Doubtful.
    2)Does the “What have you done lately?” scale you mentioned also apply to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?

    1. Just the fact that you mention Jesse and Al tells all we need to know. Right wingers who get incensed about those two consistently bring them up into any conversation that involves a black person. What does Jesse and Al have to do with the writer’s points that Bernie’s people have no right to tell them not to protest at a Bernie rally.

      1. Firstly, great attempt at substituting an erroneous assumption about my beliefs for an actual response. High marks, that! The fact that their perceived effectiveness is similar to the (erroneous) point that the author raised about Bernie’s record would never be a reason to mention them in this context, right?

        Secondly, the only issue I ever had regarding either Jesse’s or Al’s campaigns is the same one I raised when the other side put Pat Robertson up as a hopeful: It’s hard to support separation of church and state when the Chief Executive has “Reverend” among their titles.

        Thirdly, and this goes to my (apparently erroneous) statement about whether or not some of the protesters were actually tea party. When I questioned the appearance that these protesters appeared to be biased towards Hillary, the response I received was that BLM was actually pursuing conversation on these issues with the candidates (read: meeting with the candidates), and that certain protesters were actually tea party attempts at diluting the message. If that is not the case, then questions arise again: Why shout down someone who is open to discussion, yet “meet with” a more established candidate whose record shows less support? Writing off the Republicans is one thing, but preferential treatment of this nature can be, and is being, seen as endorsement. It’s not a matter of whether or not it was right to protest at a Bernie rally, but WHY the protest was ONLY at Bernie’s rallies, where they receive less coverage due to (a) Hillary’s position meaning that if she leaves her house, it’s news, and (b) the fact that the mainstream media (whose parent companies are all prominent donors to the Clinton campaign) has been actively ignoring the Sanders campaign?

  22. Actually I thought this was rather selfish and naive article … Without getting categorical (because actually, Sanders has already addressed the specifics of his agenda on almost every topic in greater detail than any other candidate) … it’s as if the writer has lost focus (or never had it) on just how our fucked up political process works. It takes a bit more time to make sweeping reforms in a corporate police state, especially one trying to climb out from under the destruction of the Bush Cheney administration of 7 years ago. If the author had a more experienced perspective, she would have realized that Sanders is actually pushing the warp speed throttle on reform almost as hard as one can before a total systems failure occurs. It’s as if the author also thinks that there are no obstacles blocking the progressive liberal path forward to a saner future. As if there is a straight line between two points in politics, there isn’t. The path is like a friggin’ mine field. Just look at the conservative resistance and realize that they are 46-48% of the populous and have a majority in both houses. Has the author forgotten what the Republicans call African Americans behind their backs. If the author’s purpose was to tell white progressives that they need to do more in the fight against racism then fine, but I dare say that every “progressive” I know already has their head screwed on straight, is amazingly politically active, and use the power of the vote to a higher percentage than most other demographics. We don’t take the black vote for granted, and it will be interesting to see how the % of black voters in the next election compares to the previous one when Barack Obama was on the ballot. What if women’s rights activists who were fighting to uphold RvW or demanding equal pay in the work place, etc were to disrupt a Hillary rally or a speech by Elizabeth Warren rather than take aim at their real adversaries …. I’d think they’d be pulling the trigger on a friendly … you don’t piss on your pals without their permission. Take aim at the real enemy ….

    1. You seem to have missed the point of the article completely. You are saying what Bernie supporters are saying and the author is distinctly pointing at Bernie supporters and saying don’t tell me that Bernie is my friend and that I can’t protest at his rally. He hasn’t done anything lately either. Frankly no democrat has done anything for blacks since Johnson in my opinion and Clinton actually hurt blacks with his draconian drug laws. Gore didn’t even have the stones to demand a recount which would have then included the thousands of votes from black wards in Florida which were uncounted and Kerry didn’t stand up when it appeared that blacks were mistreated in Ohio when they attempted to vote for him. Everytime Obama mentioned anything about being black many people cried racism and accused him of hating whites and it would have been nice if someone in his party stood up and supported him at those times. I do think the black vote is taken for granted and he (the author is a man, I believe) was not referencing that but the fact that blacks were being told what was in their best interest as though they are so stupid they didn’t know what they were doing. They specifically targeted an ally because if they can’t count on their ally to listen to them why in the heck would a vocal enemy listen. They were telling Bernie that this is on the agenda for them. They told Hillary that her husband put unjust laws on the books that targeted non violent drug offenders and gave them life sentences for crimes that white kids would have merely paid a fine for or been given probation or lighter sentences. Bernie is not the only one they’ve gone after. They are figuring out who they are going to support and right now it doesn’t look necessarily like Hillary based on her meeting with them.

  23. How about talking about how we feel about the activists who disrupted the event? That seems to be the main issue to me. As I keep saying, these 2 women insisted on shutting down the entire event, even AFTER Bernie and the entire crowd gave in to all their demands. They demanded the mike, they got the mike. They demanded Bernie listen, they spoke, he listened. They demanded the entire 5,000 person crowd participate in a 4.5 minute long “moment of silence.” They did. The entire crowd obeyed them.

    And even after everyone gave them total and complete obedience, these 2 women still shut down the event and refused to let the other 5,000 people listen to Bernie speak. Those 2 were being jerks. Whether they meant well or not, they were being jerks. At a certain point, they should have just said “OK, thanks for being so cooperative” and let the poor guy finish. It is 100% ok to call out people for their own actions, when some one is acting like a jerk, they should be called out for it, no matter their skin color.

  24. Scott, as a Bernie supporter from his adopted hometown of Burlington, Vt., I do hope the following is a sign that Bernie heard the protesters’ message and took it to heart. And, for what it’s worth, it is true what they say about Bernie: What you see is what you get. Run into him at the supermarket or video store and he talks exactly the same as he does on the campaign trail — only at a slightly lower volume.

    https://berniesanders.com/issues/racial-justice/

  25. Thank you so much for your post. As a black man, I am supporting Sanders because I think this nation deserves a reset instead of finding ways to either to invade other nations calling it a war or vilifying black people in front of a uncaring media. Yeah black lives matter but its really up to black people to figure that out just as the Hispanics have done and the Jews and the Chinese and every other race of people in the world.

    I’m voting for Sanders because I feel that deep down he cares about all people and if I may say so that in 40 plus years on this earth I have never witnessed Bernie Sanders being anyone else other than himself. Hillary, she’s almost inauthentic as we’ve watched this lady morph into many characters sometimes right before our eyes. Its time to get back to helping the poor and middle class of this nation and fixing our roads and bridges. maybe those so ready to blow stuff up can actually find some use in putting this country back together again.

  26. I can understand the sentiment here, but really? It’s completely misplaced. As others have said, if you want to grill presidential candidates on their history of fighting racial injustice then please at least mention someone more deserving of your ire than him. And if you’re going to trashtalk Bernie Sanders that’s fine, but give us something, ANYTHING, to show us that he’s as apathetic towards black people as you claim he is. Telling us (about a million times) that all he’s done is march with MLK Jr. 50 years ago does absolutely nothing to convince me that Sanders is the person you portray him to be. Who would you alternately endorse to champion black rights? You say it’s infuriating to have white people tell you who the best racial justice candidate would be. In that case, please, by all means, enlighten us white people to a better alternative.

  27. Bernie Sanders does not have a lengthy political resume of representing and fighting for black rights for one simple reason: he represents the constituents of Vermont, of whom about 1% are black. For the author to slam him on this point is disingenuous. As a long-time (but now former) Vermonter, I know he has always championed the poor and disadvantaged. Now that he is running for a national office he should absolutely be in the conversation.

  28. you could have made your point (and it would have been a lot more effective) by just posting the last paragraph and leaving all the over the top & somewhat inaccurate stuff from the beginning out…

  29. I’m white, and I think I see where you’re coming from. I think I see where you’re going off the rails too, and I don’t blame you. You’re welcome.

  30. Well imagine this, because of the disturbance, Bernie adjusted his campaign agenda and actually made him even more stronger. Hell, look at Jeb (BTW, Just Elect Bernie) and his crowd who screamed: All Lives Matter or worse, White Lives Matter. Also, look at Hillary, she banned BLM members into her talk, but talked to BLM afterwards. Still the pressure they created against Bernie, actually made Bernie that much stronger.

    Good tactic

  31. Ermegerd! White saviours, White apologists, respectability politics, tone policing, and the old I-erase-you-with-my-colourblindness is alive and present in the comments. It’s like a “How To” for a not-really-an-ally booklet.

    Damn. 2015 and damn.

    1. Just as amazing as the “Do as I want you to, not as I do” double standard that has been substituted for any meaningful dialogue by the extremists on the other end of the issue. Isn’t democracy great?

    2. To clarify; Any time that someone disagrees with the use of coarse language, anytime that someone actually attempts to seek the better path of unity, any time someone doesn’t agree that “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead and screw the collateral damage” is the only way to get results, there’s always someone trying to play the “not-really-an-ally” card. Yet, the people who claim to represent those who have no voice choose to shout down and hijack the conversation unless they are agreed with entirely.

      There is inequality. That is fact. But too many people are screaming about the problem without putting any energy into solutions. I see a lot of Bernie bashing, for example, but no one seems to be suggesting a better candidate, one with a plan to address these issues.

      1. Ah, well, the things I mentioned (all of which can be read upthread) are tried and true derailing tactics in SJ conversations. So, while what you say may be true about other aspects of the Sanders’ situation, what I said about derailing, some of which is also centering the white voice™ still stands.

  32. Yeah, I can see that. But I also see a lot of voices being dismissed just because they’re white. I’m not saying they’re all right, far from it. But we need some real answers, and I’m not ready to dismiss them all based on skin color. Isn’t that what started all this?

  33. “BLM” want to make dent in the killings of black people? Make black people believe “BLM.”

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