A Vox piece entitled “Why Bernie doesn’t talk about race,” published the day of Netroots Nation speeches, purports to explain Bernie Sanders’ focus on class, rather than race. The most effective part of the piece, one not documented in the body, is the one that telegraphs it all to readers: the headline.
Purely from a language point of view, the Vox headline is wrong. Race is a synonym of ethnicity. In that sense, Bernie really doesn’t talk about race. But if you are talking about racism, Bernie does talk about it in every stump speech. Which brings me to the question why did Dara Lind not mention Bernie’s record as a civil rights organizer in her Vox piece? Why did Lind not bother to listen to at least some of his stump speeches and report back that he does, in fact, speak out on race-based inequality as well as racism in every speech, even when the audience is an all-white one?
This video of Bernie Sanders’ speech to the National Council of La Raza in Kansas City, July 13th, starts where he addresses racism and immigration reform:
Bernie was addressing a Hispanic organization, one whose focus is immigration and issues that affect the Hispanic community. While Sanders’ speech was mostly oriented to his audience, he did still spend time including African Americans in his speech.
Bernie Sanders addresses racism during his Netroots speech:
Bernie Sanders was interviewed by Joe Madison, the Black Eagle, a week ago. Madison asked Bernie directly about apologizing for slavery. You can hear the relevant portion of the interview released by Madison here.
On July 1st, well before Netroots, at his rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Bernie addressed racism and Black unemployment.
So… It’s all fine and good to come up with sexy headlines, but the meat of the article should support it. This Vox piece most certainly does not.
America’s next president will be white, and most likely a Democrat. Which Democrat has the strongest record as a person as well as an elected official?
One lesson we must take away from Barack Obama’s presidency is that no president can carry out his or her agenda without the full support of his or her own party in Congress. That support means strict party discipline on core Democratic issues, defending the president from attacks from the right and, when needed, even pulling the president back to the left. Our POTUS didn’t get that kind of support, not when the Democrats had majorities in Congress and not when the going got tough.
There is a lot that has been left unresolved these last seven years because of our lack of focus in the face of hyperfocused obstruction by the right wing. We must be able to count on our next president to accomplish a lot. It is a must we all ensure that Democrats not only regain a majority in the House, but that as many progressive Democrats as possible get elected. This means we need high voter interest as candidates are picked for local, state and national races, when party leadership is mostly neoliberal. We must ensure high voter turnout at the polls in the primaries and we need those who vote to know who it is they are choosing.
This early in the primary, it is time to get to know the candidates. It is time to focus, and unite. I appeal to you, leaders of BlackLivesMatter, don’t let the media color your judgment. Our media is now a corporate media. Its agenda isn’t necessarily yours or mine. Study the candidates. Ask to meet with Bernie Sanders. Ask to meet with Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb. Ask to meet with Hillary Clinton. Question them all!
Dismantling the prison-industrial complex, ending police brutality and institutional racism are huge, long-term tasks that will require constant reminding of voters to stay vigilant and involved. We need groups like Black Lives Matter and Moral Monday not only to survive, but to keep growing and successfully face challenges from a system that is sure not to go down without a fight.
Some pieces I’ve posted in the past:
People criticize Bernie Sanders for focusing on economic inequality, but that inequality affects the African American community disproportionately. See: