Bernie Sanders’ approaches to institutional racism, brutality & inequality parallel MLK’s | Blog#42

Bernie Sanders has given a flurry of speeches throughout the Deep South. One of them was to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Bernie Sanders was on Meet The Press with Chuck Todd on Sunday, July, 26. The first five minutes of the clip immediately below deals almost exclusively with racism and BlackLivesMatter. Watch:

Bernie Sanders’ policy prescriptions to address racism and racism-related inherent institutional economic injustice against African Americans on a parallel – meaning separate but concurrent – track with dealing with income inequality as it pertains to all Americans.

His approach is not only consistent, but adherent with Martin Luther King’s “Poor People Campaign” which I wrote about in my April 2015 essay, “MLK died warning us about inequality back in the 60’s.” What Bernie learned from Martin Luther King and his fellow members of SNCC and applied in the Civil Rights movement, remains very much a part of his guiding principle. In fact, Bernie even mouthed the title of my essay during his interview. In that essay, I included economic data on unemployment, loss of wealth on the African American middle class, and loss of jobs affecting Black women, as well as poverty metrics from the general population.

Recently, there have been some economic analyses on the consequences of interest rate increases by the Fed, particularly on African Americans. Those same analyses deal with the persistently high African American unemployment rate. There are economists who are of the opinion that Black unemployment will correct itself with a return to full employment. From the same Meet The Press interview:

“My view is that we have got to deal with the fact that the middle class in this country is disappearing, that we have millions of people working for wages that are much too low impacts everybody, impacts the African American community even more,” he said on Sunday. “Those are issues that do have to be dealt with, and just at the same time as we deal with institutional racism.”

Sanders, clearly, will not rely on osmosis for Black unemployment to be redressed and specifically mentioned Martin Luther King’s last initiative while differentiating between economic policy and dismantling institutional racism at the same time, in parallel.

This, I think, has been the most misunderstood part of Bernie Sanders’ approach to policy in general, and institutional racism, anti-black racism, police brutality, the prison-industrial complex and school-to-prison pipelines in particular. While it seemed to many that Sanders keeps harping on fixing inequality without specifically addressing BlackLivesMatter and issues that affect African Americans specifically, that impression was erroneous. In all of the speech videos I have included in my pieces on Sanders so far, he always devotes a significant portion of his speeches to African American affairs, regardless of the audience in front of him. This pattern predates the BlackLivesMatter protest at Netroots.

When it comes to police brutality against African Americans and Sandra Bland specifically, Sanders was unequivocal as to what it is or what it sources from:

“I don’t think anybody believes that a middle-class white woman would have been yanked out of her car, thrown on the ground, assaulted and then ended up jail because she made a minor traffic violation.”
– Sen. Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders on gun control:

“Coming from a rural state, I think I can communicate with folks coming from urban states, where guns mean different things than they do in Vermont, where [they are] used for hunting,”

“Nobody should have a gun who has a criminal background, was involved in domestic abuse situations. People should not have guns who are going to hurt other people, who are unstable,” he added. “We need to make sure that certain types of guns used to kill people, exclusively, not for hunting, should not be sold in the United States of America.”

This view is the norm among Americans who live in rural areas and, as much as I am against guns, reasonable. Hate crimes, such as the attack on Charleston, or even the movie theater shooting in Louisiana were perpetrated by elements of society that are atypical of gun criminals. These perpetrators belong to a completely different class of criminals that are not classified as such. Hate groups, while they exist, enjoy a relative freedom under the law and from law enforcement agencies that is not accorded to other groups that commit crimes, such as gangs, drug-running organizations, the mob, etc. Hate crimes, specifically those perpetrated by white supremacist groups, don’t have a special category under criminal laws. In my opinion, terrorism describes only partially the crime perpetrated by Dylann Roof, leaving unrecognized the long history behind it, or the prevalence of organized hate groups around the country. This is one aspect of racism in America that has yet to have a public debate or a policy prescription. Bernie Sanders has promised to come up with a platform plank that addresses this specifically.

Bernie Sanders proposed a bill in the Senate this week that would make $15 an hour the national minimum wage. Hillary Clinton supports $15 an hour only in New York City, and $12 per hour everywhere else.

On her new proposed rise in capital gains taxes, Robert Reich had this to say on his Facebook page:

“Today Hillary Clinton unveiled a plan to raise capital-gains taxes on high earners who aren’t patient with their investments. It’s a good idea as far as it goes.

She’s absolutely correct that too many large public companies are wedded to short-term quarterly results. But I doubt short-termism is the major reason why these corporations now return eight or nine out of every 10 dollars they earn directly back to shareholders in the form of dividends or stockbuybacks, as she says. Two bigger reasons are:

(1) the middle class is so squeezed it doesn’t pay big corporations to make major investments that expand their output because they won’t be able to sell the additional output;


(2) many CEOs use stock buybacks as a means of pumping up the value of their stocks to coincide with when they cash in their abundant stock options.

In other words, there are deeper structural problems here – a shrinking middle class, and CEOs who are paid too much and can manipulate the stock market to make even more – that must be addressed, in addition to corporate short-termism.

On Banking, the differences in policy between Sanders and Clinton couldn’t be starker. She has yet to mention reenacting Glass-Steagall, for example. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are in favor of breaking up the banks. The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler writes:

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner for president, said she would not be pushed by liberals in her party to advocate for a breakup of big banks or the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall law that separated commercial and investment banking.

In response to a question about Glass-Steagall, she said: “I think it’s a more complicated assessment than any one piece of legislation might suggest.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who are challenging her for the Democratic nomination, are both advocating a breakup of the banks. Mrs. Clinton suggested that was a simplistic response and promised to lay out her plan for Wall Street regulation at a future date. It isn’t expected to include anything that sweeping.

Mr. Sanders in particular has gained traction with liberals in the party pushing for a big populist platform and a crackdown on what he calls the “billionaire class.”

Mrs. Clinton said that people advocating for new bank rules should remember that it was not just banks, but mortgage companies, insurance companies and non-commercial banking entities who were “as big if not bigger contributors to the collapse” of the financial system.

“Bernie Sanders mentions infrastructure in every speech. One way infrastructure, inequality, and institutional racism intersect at the infrastructure level is illustrated in the Washington Post’s “How railroads, highways and other man-made lines racially divide America’s cities:”

Like many metaphors, “the other side of the tracks” was originally a literal epithet. Blacks were often historically restricted to neighborhoods separated from whites by railroads, turning the tracks into iron barriers of race and class.In many cities, these dividing lines persist to this day — a reflection of decades of discriminatory policies and racism, but also of the power of infrastructure itself to segregate.

Look at racial maps of many American cities, and stark boundaries between neighboring black and white communities frequently denote an impassable railroad or highway, or a historically uncrossable avenue. Infrastructure has long played this role: reinforcing unspoken divides, walling off communities, containing their expansion, physically isolating them from schools or parks or neighbors nearby.

Research, in fact, suggests that American cities that were subdivided by railroads in the 19th century into physically discrete neighborhoods became much more segregated decades later following the Great Migration of blacks out of the rural South.

The problems illustrated in this article comprise one area where addressing Black Lives Matter and inequality as it pertains to Black communities everywhere and redressing inequality for all would intersect in a major infrastructure proposal a Sanders administration would be interested in passing in Congress.

Sanders has addressed education in a question posed by activist Deray McKesson on Ed Schultz’ MSNBC show:

Sanders differentiated, very clearly, between providing a free college education for all and the provisions and protections of Affirmative Action, reiterating that those remain a necessity in order to address structural discrimination in higher education and employment.

The mainstream press continues to abstain from publishing serious articles on Sanders’ policy proposals and speeches, preferring to focus on his background or negative reporting.

Sanders has been following his own Southern Strategy, appearing in Louisiana and Texas this past week, with plans on making stops in Mississippi and Alabama. Of great interest is the fact that he is drawing the same huge crowds in the Deep South, as he has in the North East and Mid West (links to articles on his performance after the fold.)

Robert Reich on Bernie Sanders (from Facebook)


These 3 Charts Show Bernie Sanders’ Favorability Surge — Less So for Clinton

Read the rest of this article on

Reason 1 to Vote Bernie: Sanders Does ‘Better Than Clinton’ Against GOP in Swing States

H. A. Goodman

According to a July 22, 2015 Quinippiac University Poll, Hillary Clinton’s once overwhelming lead in public opinion has been cut substantially, and it’s still a long way to the February 1, 2016 Iowa Caucus. In states that will decide the 2016 presidential election, Quinippiac reports that “Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, runs as well as, or better than Clinton against Rubio, Bush and Walker.” According to itslatest poll, Quinippiac explains how Clinton’s lead has eroded in swing states, while Sanders’s surge has spread from Iowa and New Hampshire to other key regions:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is behind or on the wrong side of a too-close-to-call result in matchups with three leading Republican contenders, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today…

In several matchups in Iowa and Colorado, another Democratic contender, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, runs as well as, or better than Clinton against Rubio, Bush and Walker…

Read the rest of  Reason 1 to Vote Bernie: Sanders Does ‘Better Than Clinton’ Against GOP in Swing States | H. A. Goodman

Is Hillary Clinton ‘Likable Enough’?

Barack Obama said before the New Hampshire primary during his contentious primary with Hillary Clinton in 2008 that she was “likable enough.” The quip got him in trouble with Clinton supporters, but Clinton’s likability is at the heart of her candidacy in 2016.

Clinton has a massive lead among Democratic candidates, but polls out in key swing states Wednesday raise warning signs for her candidacy.

The latest numbers from Quinnipiac show that the majority of voters in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia have a negative impression of her. A whopping 56 percent of Colorado voters have an unfavorable view of her, compared with only 35 percent who have a favorable one. That gap is similar in Iowa (56 percent negative to 33 percent positive) and only somewhat diminished in Virginia (50 percent favorable to 41 percent negative). (The poll had a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points in all three states.)

Is that bad? Some perspective: In Colorado and Iowa, her unfavorable scores are close to those of Donald Trump, perhaps the most polarizing candidate on the trail and the Republican with the worst favorability numbers in the poll.


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