Lately, the news media has been talking a lot about how…while on the campaign trail…Senator Bernie Sanders & Mayor Peter Buttigieg…appear to be struggling…when it comes to Black voters.
On Wednesday, April 24, 2019, eight (8) Democrats running for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination…spoke at a forum at Texas Southern University in Houston….called She the People. The forum focused on national issues important to women of color. One of the Democrats attending the forum was Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders. On 4/25/19, Fox News reported the following about Sanders attendance at the forum… “2020 presidential contender Bernie Sanders faced an aggressive and, at times, outwardly combative audience at the She The People Forum devoted to women of color in Houston on Wednesday, as the self-described democratic socialist struggled to convince attendees of his commitment to minority and underprivileged communities.”
At the forum, a woman of color in the audience asked Senator Sanders the question… “What do you believe is the federal government’s role to fight against the rise of white nationalism and white terrorist acts, and how do you plan to lead on that in your first year as president?” Instead of answering the question about white supremacist violence, Sanders went on a long ass speech…about immigration reform, minimum wage and Medicare For All. On 4/25/19…the Daily Mail reported… “At one point in the discussion when Sanders appeared to dodge another question on white supremacists, host Aimee Allison drew loud applause when she reminded him that the ‘core of the question’ concerned violence against minorities.”
In kicking back against the “boos & jeers” Bernie Sanders received at the “She the People” forum…Nina Turner (a Black woman who is a campaign senior adviser to Sanders and a former State Senator), felt the need to defend the Senator, on Thursday, 4/25/19, at a rally in Fort Worth, Texas. On 4/25/19, Mediaite.com reports… “She asked the crowd “In what world when you are sitting on the stage telling folks about your history, and you mention the fact that you were on the March on Washington with Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Fort Worth, in what world do people boo that? That happened to Senator Sanders yesterday, and I’m calling it out,” Turner said.”
Any struggling that Bernie Sanders is having with “relating to” Black folk….did not start yesterday. HELL NO! Even in his run for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination…Sanders had problems relating even to the Black folk who worked on his campaign. On February 17, 2019…the New York Times…in reporting on the frustrations of Sanders’ 2016 Black campaign staffers…writes… “It’s almost like they didn’t need us for anything,” said John Solomon (a Black man), who was hired as an organizer but soon became disillusioned when campaign aides assigned him to drive people around Iowa in a truck. “It was kind of like, you have black staff just to say you have black staff.”” The Times goes on further to report… “Danny Glover (a Black man), a liaison to historically black colleges and universities, introduced a tour he believed could solidify support from young black voters, but he felt that the campaign did not make a full commitment to it.”
O.k… These Black folk were not pulling this shit out of a hat. This was how they felt about a campaign they were WORKING FOR.
Let’s keep going…
On November 8, 2018, the Daily Beast, in reporting on Senator Bernie Sanders’ take on why Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams (both Black) did not win the 2018 gubernatorial races in Florida and Georgia…writes… ““I think you know there are a lot of white folks out there who are not necessarily racist who felt uncomfortable for the first time in their lives about whether or not they wanted to vote for an African-American,” Sanders told The Daily Beast, referencing the close contests involving Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia and ads run against the two. “I think next time around, by the way, it will be a lot easier for them to do that.””
Now, take a moment to meditate on what Senator Sanders said.
What I hear…is a White man…trying…to explain to me…why “White folk” who were “uncomfortable for the first time” in deciding about whether to vote for two Black people…because these two Black people…WERE WHAT???…yes, Black…ARE NOT NECESSARILY RACIST.
GOT DAMN! I don’t give a shit if this is the first time, the second time or the third time…that White folk are feeling “uncomfortable” about their racist ass hearts. You see… If you have NEVER voted for Black folk because they are Black…and NOW you are “uncomfortable” and are struggling with your feelings about whether to vote for them or not… because they are Black, then, EVIDENTLY…you STILL have a problem with Black folk. Isn’t this shit the textbook definition of “being racist???”
But, you tell me…
What is the difference between the White 2018 voters in Florida & Georgia…who chose not to vote for Gillum and Abrams, because they were Black folk…AND…the White folk in the 1960’s who didn’t want to serve Black folk in their diners because they were Black folk??? Both views are solely based on RACE.
You see…this is the problem with White folk, like Bernie…who, have grown up in this country…failing to CLEARLY see & acknowledge…the TRUTH…about how racism…STILL rages in this country JUST AS STRONG as it EVER has. Soooo…
My question then becomes…
Senators Sanders…HOW…HOW…HOW…SIR…do you get to be 77 years old …living in America…with media outlets reporting on all the racist shit going on, 24/7…yet, STILL…you FAIL to see the forest for the trees???
Now…let’s turn to dear Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Another Democratic candidate running for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination is Peter Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana. On April 22, 2019, the South Bend Tribune reports… “After watching Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign kickoff speech last Sunday, Barack Obama’s former political strategist was impressed, tweeting, “Who knows where it goes, but this is not a thing. It’s real.” But about an hour and a half before that, David Axelrod had tweeted something else: “Crowd seems very large, very impressive but also very white — an obstacle he will have to overcome.” He followed three minutes later with, “And by obstacle I mean deficiency. He will need to build out his coalition in a very diverse party.””
On April 23, 2019, Newsweek reports… “Buttigieg has raced ahead in Democratic polls this month, but still struggles to attract the black and Hispanic vote, crucial blocs for any presidential contender, especially a Democratic one. A Monmouth poll out Tuesday found that 14 percent of white Democrats currently plan to vote for Buttigieg in the 2020 primary, but only 2 percent of nonwhite voters do. About 28 percent of nonwhite voters said they would vote for Joe Biden and 27 percent said they would vote for Bernie Sanders.”
In reporting on Buttigieg’s mayoral career in South Bend, Indiana…on 4/17/19, the Guardian reports… “Two in five African Americans in the city live below the poverty line, which is almost double the national poverty rate for African American households, according to a study by the city in 2017. The mayor recently faced questions over a 2015 speech in which he used the phrase “all lives matter”, often interpreted as neglecting the specific grievances of African Americans…”
On Tuesday, 4/23/19, the Root.com reports… ““South Bend, Ind. has one of the darkest histories of segregation of anywhere in the country, and it’s something we still haven’t properly addressed,” said Nate Levin-Aspenson. Levin-Aspenson is an activist and grant writer from Durham, N.C. A white millennial, he moved to South Bend with his wife right around Mayor Pete’s second term. Nate acknowledges many of black South Bend’s problems preceded Mayor Buttigieg, but the mayor hasn’t done much to change them either. For example, several residents I spoke with pointed to the federal consent decree on South Bend schools due to segregation and treatment of black students. However, throughout two terms, no one, including black surrogates for Mayor Buttigieg, could point to examples of him tackling school segregation.”
In his “State of the City” address…given in March 2015…Pete Buttigieg states… “There is no contradiction between respecting the risks that police officers take every day in order to protect this community, and recognizing the need to overcome the biases implicit in a justice system that treats people from different backgrounds differently, even when they are accused of the same offenses. We need to take both those things seriously, for the simple and profound reason that all lives matter.” In reporting on Buttigieg’s “all lives matter” comment…in his address…on 4/3/19, CNBC states… “Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg in 2015 addressed two local police controversies in South Bend, Indiana, by saying in an official speech that “all lives matter,” a comment that could land him in hot water with his party’s increasingly energized progressive base. It could also bring new attention to his record on race as the city’s mayor. Activists say that the phrase “all lives matter” misses the point of the Black Lives Matter movement or dismisses it.”
You know… It’s kind of funny but, it’s not. But, it is…
Here’s my thing. It’s not like we are talking about one human being…trying to relate to…oh, I don’t know…Bigfoot. On second thought, that might not be a good example, because…I think me and Bigfoot could get along. I’m serious! I think we’d hit it off. Mmmmmmhhh… Wait, a minute…I’m still thinking. O.k…how about this… It’s not like we are talking about one human being…trying to relate to…the “abominable snowman.” You saw…and I saw…how he acted towards “Rudolph the red-nose reindeer.” He was growling at them. Chasing them. Trying to kill them. OH…MY…GOODNESS!…all that kind of shit. It was R-E-A-L-L-Y scary! He only acted like he had some sense…after they pulled his teeth out.
Soooo… The last time I checked, I…as a Black woman…AM NOT…the abominable snowman. So, why should it be a struggle for either Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg…to relate to me??? GIVE ME A GOT DAMN BREAK! You see…from where I’m standing…the problem is not mine…it’s theirs. Why??? Let me tell you…
Black folk DID NOT just disembark…from slave ships…OR…turnip trucks…yesterday. It is 2019…and we’ve been here a long got damn time. And… We speak English. We know how to use knives & forks…UNLESS, it’s fried chicken. (And, WE ARE NOT alone, with that shit, either) We use toilet paper when we wipe our asses, not leaves…UNLESS, we have to pee real bad & are on the road. (And EVERYBODY knows…that’s “THE EXCEPTION”) Now, I think I’ve covered the basic rules…of…American civility.
People can try to sugarcoat…shit…all they want…BUT, the truth…IS TRULY…the light. You better stop trying to make someone appear…more accepting of Black folk…& more understanding of Black folk’s plight then, they are. And, for me…Senator Bernie Sanders does NOT…have the heart…NEEDED…to fight against the ills of “racism”… “sexism”… “violence” …that Black folk struggle against…daily. He is a “horse” of a different color…that tries to talk a good talk…but, his walk…doesn’t follow the footsteps…of his talk.
As for Mayor Pete Buttigieg… He speaks forthrightly about his struggles as a gay man and wants people to sympathize with him. However… Buttigieg…seems a bit blind and indifferent to the struggles of Black folk…who have been marginalized…disenfranchised…brutalized…& traumatized…for centuries in this country. It’s like he can’t see past his White-ness…& his gayness. To me…that’s awfully got damn selfish.
It appears…to me…that these two White men…haven’t had a lot of close contact…in their private lives…with Black folk. Bernie Sanders…has repeated like a broken ass record… “I marched with Martin Luther King.” Well, GOT DAMN Bernie…that was in the 60’s. I want to know what kind of interactions you have had…WITH BLACK FOLK…since, the 60’s. Unless, I’ve lost track of time again, because of those inconvenient alien abductions I’ve been experiencing…we’ve been through the 70’s…the 80’s…the 90’s…through 2010…& working up to 2020. That’s a long ass time…from the 60’s.
Senator Sanders…in trying to get the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination spot…is trying to appeal both…to Trump’s racist voters & Black folk. Mayor Buttigieg…in trying to get the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination spot…is trying to appeal both…to Trump’s racist voters & Black folk. In other words, Sanders and Buttigieg are trying to have it both ways. Under these circumstances, you CAN’T have it both ways. Bernie Sanders cannot, at the same time, hold the hand of White racist voters who refuse to vote for Black folk because they are Black…& hold my hand as a Black woman. Pete Buttigieg cannot, at the same time, hold the hand of racist police officers who unjustifiably brutalize Black folk…& hold my hand as a Black woman.
The Bible puts it like this…
21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:21)
Meaning??? Meaning…you need to stand-up for what is godly, what is right…AND…denounce what is evil, what is wrong. There’s no two ways about this. You CAN’T stand for God…and stand for the Devil…at the same time! The Heavenly Father says you will love the one…& hate the other.
So, for me…these two…Sanders & Buttigieg…have showed their hands.
Iris Whiting ©