Something really shameful is happening in Democratic politics.
During the democratic debate on Sunday, March 6th in front of the people of Flint, Michigan, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton sparred in a substantive exchange of ideas and differences. Yet despite the substance, media outlets and biased headline grabbers are attempting to paint Bernie Sanders as just another out of touch, racially ignorant old, white guy. The attack stems from comments he made about living in “the ghetto”.
Well,I am a proud child of the ghetto. For me, families who survive in these systematically neglected communities are symbols of the ultimate perseverance, resourcefulness, resilience and courage.
I am also a proud Bernie Sanders supporter and so I feel compelled to remind his democratic critics out there that READING AND LISTENING ARE
For those who of you out there who still actually care about context, here is the quote that preceded “the ‘G’ word”.
“I was with some young people active in the Black Lives Matter movement.
( A) young lady comes up to me and she says
‘you don’t understand what police do in certain Black communities.
You don’t understand the degree to which we are terrorized.’
I’m not just talking about the horrible shootings that we have seen
I’m just talking about everyday activities in which police officers are bullying people.
…When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto
you don’t know what it’s like to be poor.”
You don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street,
or you get dragged out of a car.”
Bernie Sanders was talking about the aggressive policing behaviors that disproportionately effect CERTAIN neighborhoods.
I repeat- CERTAIN NEIGHBORHOODS!!! Not all black neighborhoods, but a particular slice of American life. More importantly, he was communicating the perspective told to him by a young woman and activist with Black Lives Matter. When he said “you don’t understand what police do in certain communities” he was articulating her perspective, her experiences.
Now perhaps the Black political elite have conveniently forgotten this but the inarguable reality is in fact that lower income, African American neighborhoods are disproportionately subjected to unwarranted police hostility.
Here, Bernie Sanders spoke up and admitted that racism is much more nuanced and insidious than the more blatant instances of unprovoked police killings.
Obvious racist behavior like Klan meetings disguised as Donald Trump rallys are easy to call attention to. Senator Sanders was speaking to the perspective of folks who experience the kind of indignity that doesn’t always show up on your evening news.
Bernie Sanders’ point is that white people don’t know what it’s like to be black AND poor or what it means to be under constant duress and mistreatment because of the two.
Context is important! Isolating a quote may do wonders to score political points. It may make you feel peacock proud to pounce upon a potential
“gotcha” moment. But it does an incredible disservice to the endeavor that should be the priority of all political talking heads; getting to the truth.
How dare we as liberals or democratic leaning independents point our fingers to (rightfully) shame Fox News and other sensationalist media outlets for
cherry-picking words and stripping them of their intention while engaging in some of the very same anti-intellectual intention bending and character assasination.
By the way, to the Joy Reids of the world who are so incensed by their own
mis-understanding of Bernie’s quote, they for damn sure better have the same amount of disgust and bewilderment towards Mrs. Clinton for her repeated attempts to pit white, middle Americans against her opponent Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race.
One such example is when Clinton was asked by the USA Today to describe the constituency that would be responsible for her ability to beat Obama’s multi-ethnic coalition, she said that “hard working white Americans” would favor her.
You can hear the words for yourself..
The purpose of this entry isn’t to tell you to vote for Bernie Sanders.
It isn’t even to criticize Hillary Clinton.
But last night’s conversation on race yielded some of the most transparent and honest commentary on the subject from any of the presidential candidates.
Even Hillary Clinton, whose racial politics and pandering I am often critical of, offered a few thoughts that I felt to ring refreshingly true.
It’s a shame that Bernie Sanders’ honesty about America leaving poor Black people in the shadows of a middle class agenda, are being manipulated in the vacuum of ratings hungry, 24/7 newscasting and social media sensationalism.
Bernie Sanders is the proud son of Jewish immigrants. By his own account, his father’s family was “wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust.” He assured voters “I know about what crazy and radical, and extremist politics mean.”
That political pundits want to manipulate his words as if he doesn’t understand that Black people aren’t the only ones who are poor and live in substandard conditions in this country demonstrates just how short-sighted and petty we’ve become.
It speaks to how desperate the media and some Hillary supporters have become for a replay worthy gaffe from a candidate who has been so annoyingly consistent.