Danny Cardwell's picture

    Acceptable Blacks Bernie Sanders And Race

    "Up North they don't care how big I get, as long as I don't get too close. Down South they don't care how close I get as long as I don't get too big".

    “In the North, the issue is mainly proximity. In the South, the issue is mainly power. Get it?"                        

    -- Dick Gregory

    The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an Uncle Tom as: 1 : a black who is overeager to win the approval of whites (as by obsequious behavior or uncritical acceptance of white values and goals). Politically, this derogatory term was almost exclusively used to describe the 5-7% of African Americans who identify as Conservative or Republican, but lately it's being used to describe African Americans who support Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders' inability to win over black voters in the south has caused some of his supporters, irrespective of race, to choose the easier path of Ad Hominem attacks to explain this electoral rejection instead of finding the disconnect and working to fix it. Bernie, like anyone "new" to the southern political scene, was going to have a hard time taking support away from Hillary Clinton. Yes, for the 1,378th time, I know he was part of student protests in Chicago and marched in Washington during the 60's; I know he publicly supported Jesse Jackson at a time when it wasn't politically advantageous to do so, but where has he been since then? This isn't a rhetorical question. Bernie's political career as a mayor, congressman, and senator happened in a state with virtually no racial diversity. If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, will black voters in the south support Bernie Sanders?

    I’ve heard people say Bernie would have done better in the south if he were black; simply put: he would have. Not because of some nefarious, unspoken racial code. Black people won't support a candidate just because they're black: ask Ben Carson. If Bernie were black he would have started his 2016 presidential campaign with a higher profile in the black community. Being a member of the Congressional Black Caucus would have made him a more familiar political commodity among people in his age group. The fact that Bernie does better with African Americans under 30 than he does with African Americans over 60 is a symptom of older southern voters not being familiar with him. In South Carolina Hillary Clinton won 96% of the 65 older African American vote. These are people who lived through the civil rights movement of the 60's, the crack epidemic of the 80's, and mass incarceration during the 90's. They don't place all of the blame for mass incarceration on the Clintons. During the 90's these voters were raising kids and paying mortgages. It's easy to use 20\20 hindsight 20+ years later to critique mistakes made in real time. Southern voters remember being scared to buy their children Air Jordan's; they remember watching the news and seeing the gang violence in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Miami; they didn't forget that the crack epidemic (which created the atmosphere for this violence) started during the Reagan years. The crime bill had tragic consequences for communities of color; much like 911 America overshot the response to a traumatic situation, but this part of the Democratic base doesn’t blame Hillary Clinton for it.

    The fringe of the Republican party has been so blatantly disrespectful that subtle instances of disrespect on the left are often overlooked. It's disrespectful and condescending for northern progressives to blame Bernie's shortcomings on a part of the Democratic base they’re isolated from. Virginia went blue the last two presidential elections, North Carolina went blue in 2008. Most northern liberals don’t know that Georgia and South Carolina  are states we could move into the purple column by 2020. There’s an enthusiasm gap this primary season that isn’t fixing itself. Bernie’s had the largest crowds, but unlike Donald Trump’s campaign those large crowds haven’t turned into "Yuuuge" vote totals.

    I hope my northern friends will open their eyes and see how awfully naive it is to diminish an electorate that routinely sends southern progressives to the House of Representatives. The lesson moving forward should be active engagement. If you want to come to the south and get support you have to come to the south and give it. If Bernie had been more visible during the 90’s and early 2000’s we’d probably be having a different conversation, but his progressivism happened in a racial vacuum. His campaign is aspirational and inspirational, but it’s failing to connect with people who ceased dreaming. Older black voters have never experienced instantaneous legislative success. Brown vs. Board of Education was settled law in 1954, but over a decade later members of this electorate were still going to segregated schools. None of the advancements people of color have made came overnight. Northern isolation has insulated some progressives from the racial realities in the south. Insinuating that black support for Hillary is due to some racial Stockholm syndrome is a function of this isolation. This may come as a surprise, but most black Democrats don't spend a lot of time worrying about what's politically acceptable to our northern allies. Politically, socially, and economically speaking blacks in the south may be making a mistake with their allegiance to Hillary, but aren't southern whites making a bigger mistake with their allegiance to Donald Trump? One of these issues is far more concerning to me than the other.



    Another excellent post. Elizabeth Warren is in danger of falling into the Bernie Sanders isolation gap if she does not reach out to minority communities. 

    Many Progressives could not understand why blacks remained in Obama's corner despite not "delivering" for the black community. Older blacks saw the obstacles facing the President. They saw dispect of the President from Ralph Nader, Michael Moore, and Bill Mahrer. They disrespect was no different than that of the guy from SC who yelled "You lie" during the State of the Union.

    Outreach is going to be important if Democrats want turnout in midterm elections.

    It is clear that the GOP is the enemy of blacks and Latinos.The GOP is openly the party of the white supremacists. GOP leaders will call Trump a con artist, but because they want the votes of the white supremacists, they will not call Trump a racist.

    Thanks for reading. I'm sure I'll get some push back for this post, but you know like I know there is a real disconnect between northern Democrats and southern Democrats. I fear the temper tantrum some of Bernie's supporters might throw if he doesn't get the nomination. I appreciate your time! 


    I think the bulk of Sanders' supporters will support Hillary. The choice seems to be having President Trump, the racist or President Cruz, the insane if the Democratic candidate is not the choice. Not voting would usher in a Presidency that would damage everyone. From Supreme Court selections on down, the GOP would create an evil outcome.

    BTW, Ithink Cruz and Trump can keep Virginia Blue. It's an issue of fear now.

    Warren is in no danger what so ever excepting that she might not have a national constituency for a presidential run. A job she clearly doesn't want given that she was asked over and over and over again and she refused more times than the republicans voted to repeal Obamacare.

    I have no idea why you're pushing this nonsense but why don't you be specific. Exactly what problem is Warren facing? Is she going to have trouble getting re-elected? Is Corey Booker gonna refuse to support legislation she sponsors because she hasn't done enough outreach to  the black community? Exactly what specific problem is Warren facing because she hasn't paid enough attention to the community of voters you identify with?

    Warren's name has been mentioned as a VP choice for Bernie Sanders and as a Presidential candidate. If she does plan a national office, she needs to reach out. Additionally, knowing that Warren exists could hel push minority voters out for midterm elections. My point is that Democrats cannot continue complacency and expect different results. Why is that so difficult to understand?

    Also of note Rand Paul was working with Cory Booker on criminal justice issues. Rand Paul may be better known for dealing with issues important to minority groups than Elizabeth Warren. Progressive Democrats should be more well known in the black community than Rand Paul.

    So what. I've seen nothing from Booker on climate change or any of the environmental issues that concern me. If  Booker decided to run for president he'd have a high bar to climb before I voted for him. I don't see that as a problem for him unless he decides to seek national office. But what it seems you're saying is that Booker, Clyburn, and Lewis are in danger of falling into an isolation gap if they do not reach out to environmental groups. I guess you'll now start telling the community you identify with that they had better start reaching out to the community I identify with or they will face problems. Or are you saying that every senator and congress person needs to craft and sponsor legislation and reach out to the black community and that you don't really give a shit about all the other communities that make up the democratic coalition?

    Please give me some specifics about the ways you think Booker, Clyburn, and Lewis should reach out to the environmental community so they don't fall into an isolation gap. Please tell me how you're going to push the leaders in your community to reach out to the communities they are isolated from.

    Or you can explain to me why I should give a shit about the issues that affect your community when you and your leaders apparently don't give a fuck about the issues that affect my community.

    Now that you have ranted.. Do you think that it is important for Democrats to encourage voter turnout? Do you think minority votes are a crucial part of getting Democrats elected? Do you think that Bernie Sanders should have been better known in minority communities? If these things are true, what should the Democratic Party be doing to get better results than they have gotten in the past?

    Edit to add:

    The reason I focus on the black community is because the Sanders example shows that he is a virtual unknown there. Democratic candidates need to pay attention to minority communities if they want better results than Sanders is getting. Candidates cannot wait until they are running. 

    Do you think I have some obligation to dutifully answer your questions when you just blew off every one of my questions? Is this like the special obligation that all senators and congress people have to the black community that none of them have to any other community in the democratic coalition?

    Environmental issues are important to the black community. Some of the most polluted parts of our country are in predoniently African American communities. Environmental issues are a threat to everyone's long-term health, but in the face of short-term existential problems related to jobs, systemic inequalities in the south, and deteriorating communities it's hard to focus on an impending crisis when there's hell all around us. I'm certain this schism in our party can be resolved. My wife is the election chief for our district. The voters in Bath County, a county that's 85% white, voted for Hillary Clinton by 50 points. What makes this an interesting fact is that Bath County is one of the oldest Counties in the Commonwealth with an average age of 48.3 yrs. Bernie has a problem with older voters that was exposed by the African American vote in the south. I am going to hold events and campaign for whoever wins our nomination. Winning in November is what's important to me. Thanks for engaging this post. I hope any differences in this thread can be hashed out. 



    You focus on the black community because it's the community you identify with and it's issues are your priority. I  focus on the environmentalist community because it's the community I identify with and it's issues are my priority. The difference is that you expect every single senator and congress person to make your issues their top priority and be engaged in outreach to your community. You clearly don't feel that way about any other community in the democratic coalition. Seems like you and your's are the most important part of the coalition and your issues are the only ones that matter. I'm satisfied if elected officials vote for my issues and accept that many will focus the larger part of their energy on other issues.

    Frankly if every part of the democratic coalition felt like you do there would be no democratic coalition.

    Sanders is known in environmental circles, women's rights circles, gay rights circle and is winning in states with majority white electorates. He was unknown in minority communities. That is a glaring observation. Sanders, Warren, etc. are doing good things, but their audiences seem to be majority white. There already is outreach to the majority Given Sanders problems they simply need to make outreach to minority communities. That does not seem like a big ask.

    Edit to add:

    Occupy Wall Street was not known for being diverse. Black Gay Rights activists did not feel welcome in the early stages of gay rights activist. Environmentalists did not address issues in black communities in the early years. Van Jones and others moved into the void.There needs to be outreach from Progressive activists in the majority community. Hollywood is viewed as a relatively Liberal place, but we just had a debate about blacks not being recognized.

    There is no reason that Sanders was an unknown entity. The fact that John Lewis or James Clyburn couldn't vouch for him speaks volumes. 

    If public health officials want to get a message out about hypertension, they can put ads in the local newspaper. Since most city newspapers lean Conservative, black readership is not as high as white readership. If the public health officials put posters in barbershops, beauty shops, and churches in the black community, they will get a better response. That is called outreach and that is all that I am suggesting.

    I read every article I come across by or about Warren and have read 2 of her books but I cannot recall anything meaningful she's said to address my priority concerns. Unlike you I don't condemn her for it as her focus is Wall Street, banks, bankruptcy law, and consumer protection. She's a state senator who has repeatedly refused to run for national office. Hillary has been a supporter, though not as strong as I'd like, yet still I waited to see if she would offer a meaningful plan to deal with climate change. If she had not I'd be criticizing her now. As a national politician she needs to address the concerns of all parts of the democratic coalition.

    I cannot nor do I know anyone in the environmentalist community who can vouch for Clyburn or Lewis. This isolation, by your standards, is or will cause problems for them. What do you think they must do to address their isolation? How should they reach out to this community? What legislation should they be crafting and sponsoring to demonstrate their commitment to the environmentalist community?

    You are not addressing my point.

    When I talk about outreach, I am not requiring that Sanders and Warren address all issues. I am saying that Sanders should have made his work in Congress known in minority communities. Hillary was known to black communities. That is why she felt comfortable coming to Flint. Sanders failed.

    Warren tackles the issue of student debt. When I suggest outreach, I am saying that she should either speak to or invite black student activists to her office.She doesn't have to address every issue. She gave an excellent speech in support of black lives matter. She should buttress that with contact with members of the black community active in Warrens areas of interest.


    You can get as upset as me as you want,I really don't care. If you read comments from others regarding why Bernie Sanders did not catch fire in the black community, it was because nobody knew him.I pointed out before Vice President Biden came to an NAACP Convention and was able to point out his friend "Mouse" sitting in one of the seats. That little acknowledgement said Biden had a connection. Sanders had none. Warren should gain some connections.

    Outreach to minority communities focusing on the areas of interest of the politician. The goal is to increase interaction with Progressive Democrats. The other goal is increasing voter turnout. The ultimate goal is energizing activists to become participants as candidates.

    i do not see how anything I suggest is outrageous.

    Edit to add:

    Let us assume that Warren decides to run for President or accepts aVP nod. She will need minority votes what should she be doing before the run to secure minority votes and avoid the Sanders pitfall?


    Here is Jonathan Capehart describing how Democratic campaigns have to pay attention to unions and minorities to be successful. Capehart points out that Obama had to lay groundwork to gain black votes. Hillary laid groundwork for black votes. Sanders came in late. 


    There is nothing controversial about my statements

    Here's a disabled woman discussing her vote from the perspective of disabled rights. It's a big tent, and no, we don't know all the different players, but the successful candidates have to touch on at least a majority of the big tent concerns. At least on the Democratic side.

    Thanks. I don't understand why someone would get upset when you suggest that a politician needs to connect with other communities.

    I think OK 's frustration is he knows people have limited time and interest in other movements, and it's only full-time activists and candidates who really multitask. Expecting a one-issue advocate like Elizabeth Warren to be making the rounds just because is probably unrealistic. To be fair to Bernie, he probably didn't think he'd go national, so he didn't fill the gaps in his advocacy, but it doesn't buy him those years back either. You either got it on your CV or you don't or people give you a pass. So much to do, so little time.

     I mentioned Warren because she has been suggested for national office. If she decides to go national, she needs to avoid Sanders' mistake.

    Hey OceanKat, try the environmental primary - 



    There's this myth that's taken hold in the internet age that blogging or signing online petitions will lead to change. I don't think it will. Unless there's a change in the mind set of a significant minority of the public nothing will change. That change in the minds of enough Americans usually doesn't start at the top which is why Sanders revolution failed. It starts at the grass roots level. If a sufficient number of activists put their bodies on the line. If they have a coherent set of policy initiatives they want to see enacted. And if sufficient numbers of the non activist public support them politicians will be pushed to enact some sort of reform.

    Didn't consider it a replacement, only 1 way of trying to put environment higher on the agenda, get some airplay. However, many things to do with environment are done at the top, not grassroots, including executive order, ways environmental laws are enforced including national parks and offshore drilling and Epa regulations and NOAA/Near/DoE activities, plus international treaties and various foreign cooperation. Getting facetime and buy-in from the next president would be very good, not that a petition necessarily achieves that, though in this case it could show there's a sufficient number to the base to stand behind eco-friendly policy as a priority. If Hillary opposed Keystone due to pressure from the base, then other stands might be rewarded.

    Om the other hand, I'm pretty pro-fracking as it's largely solved our dependence on the Mideast and Russia for now, what I see are bigger nearterm problems as we get our global warming shit together. I don't expect many to agree with me but it's happening anyway.

    I'm not anti-fracking as I like to think I have a pragmatic view of reality. It has somewhat reduced the incentives to fight oil wars. In the end only creating a sufficient supply of renewable energy will solve the problem. People everywhere, not just America, will never stop using oil to save the planet. I don't stand with the current push by many environmentalists to reduce supply, like stopping the Keystone. Unless we increase the supply of renewables any success in reducing supply of oil will be temporary.

    Thanks for this. One of the problems is history getting condensed into soundbites & single-word memes. The whole crackgang crime explosion period and lowering crime that affects everyone becomes "predator". Hillary's finely crafted 1000 or 2000 word speech on Iraq inspections and the complexities becomes "pro-war". The Clinton boom years when we could tackle deficits and play with entrenched poverty and welfare dependency and push for black jobs & home ownership becomes "NAFTA" and "anti-black" and "Glass-Steagal". Folks seem to forget that "struggle" is a process, and that in the 90's blacks finally got a real seat at the table - difficult issues were discussed with their input, they were part of the decision process as well as part of the administration, consensus was met, however naive and over-optimistic or mistaken in some policy or other. They were more shared decisions than ever before. I watched Clinton leave office more hopeful about race relations and black opportunities than ever before, and then watched Bush tear much of it down in a matter of months. Fucker.

    It's easier to tear something down than build it up. We know where the GOP stands on issues related to the culture wars, but there economic plans are more dangerous for the long-term health of our nation.

    My greatest disappointment in this election cycle is that poor, working-class, and middle-income whites who back Trump and people of color who back Clinton appear to view their interests as distinct.  If we are going to accomplish change, we must do it together.  Perhaps Bernie Sanders didn't spend enough time in the south and should have reached out to communities of color earlier and more often.  I won't argue that point. 

    But I note Jonathan Capehart's explanation for Why black voters remain in Hillary Clinton's corner in the Washington Post last week:

    The third reason is perhaps the most important, because of how deeply it resonates with African Americans: Clinton openly talks about the necessary role that whites must play in healing and bridging the racial divide.

    “Ending systemic racism requires contributions from all of us, especially those of us who haven’t experienced it ourselves,” she said in Harlem. “White Americans need to do a better job of listening when African Americans talk about the seen and unseen barriers that you face every day. We need to recognize our privilege and practice humility, rather than assume that our experiences are everyone’s experiences.”

    There is no way to read this except that Clinton is saying poor and working-class whites in Appalachia and the dying heartland are privileged and need to "practice humility".  Their experiences are qualitatively different and better than those of poor and working-class blacks Clinton is saying.

    While it is obviously true that everyone's story and every group's story is different, the bigger truth is that the majority of whites and blacks have suffered as a result of globalism, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the aggressive militarism that has characterized our foreign policy since the 1970s. 

    I have no problem acknowledging that I am privileged by virtue of having been born to affluent, well-educated, responsible, and white parents.  But I will not insist that those who share only my skin color but none of the other advantages are privileged nor that they should be humble.  In fact they are victims of a rapacious capitalism just as most blacks are.  If we are going to make America better we need a messenger who brings us together by emphasizing our shared values, goals, experiences, and essential humanity.

    There is no way to read this except that Clinton is saying poor and working-class whites in Appalachia and the dying heartland are privileged and need to "practice humility".  Their experiences are qualitatively different and better than those of poor and working-class blacks Clinton is saying.

    I read Clinton's statement to be an unqualified call for the practice of humility and understanding from all white people, regardless of their economic status. Your second sentence puts words into Clinton's mouth that equates all identity politics with a victim-hood contest. If you have ever lived in the South, you will have met some fellow travelers of that idea who aren't going to join the jamboree you have planned.

    I have no problem with a call for all of us to be humble and to be respectful of each other.  But that is not what Clinton did.  She put the onus solely on all whites - many of whom are doing worse than many African-Americans.  That divides people who should be political allies. 

    I do not equate all identity politics with victimhood politics.  I like very much Clinton's call for the creation of new good jobs in inner cities and the rural south that are targeted to poor and working-class black communities. 

    Finally, you are right of course that many whites and blacks too won't "join the jamboree" I have planned.  What disappoints me is that based on the evidence that 1) many white working-class voters are supporting Trump and 2) what resonates in the African-American community is Clinton's insistence that poor and struggling white people need to practice humility, neither demographic can see the other as a true ally in the fight for economic and political justice.  If they can't unite together, the divide and conquer strategy that the 1% has been employing for centuries will continue to succeed.

    You say that Clinton is only putting the "onus" on whites. But she didn't actually say that. You are the one claiming that her saying whites qua whites have a general obligation to blacks qua blacks is an attempt to measure their levels of suffering. When you say you "cannot read the statement any other way" it is you who equates identity politics with victim hood politics. I do not accept the mutual exclusivity you presume to be self evident.

    I was not making a general remark about the racial divide when citing those who make that equation in the South. It is the lingua franca of those who would deny the existence of institutional racism by insisting all are equal under the law. I grew up listening to that crap.

    In clarifying what I understand by Clinton's words, I do not mean to demean your hope to get to a place where the discussion rises above racial differences.

    I did not say nor do I believe that whites and blacks are treated equally under the law.  In fact one of the reasons I support Bernie is because I believe his programs and policies would do much more to address structural racism than Clinton's would. http://halginsberg.com/bernie-sanders-is-addressing-structural-racism/

    Regarding putting the onus on whites, the Clinton quote I posted is "[w]hite Americans need to do a better job of listening when African Americans talk about the seen and unseen barriers that you face every day.  We need to recognize our privilege and practice humility."  Clearly she is putting the onus on whites as I wrote.  I did not write, notwithstanding your claim to the contrary, that she is putting the onus solely on whites.

    I didn't say you said that whites and blacks are treated equally under the law. I was trying to explain why your interpretation of Clinton's words did not fit with mine.

    As rebuttals go, the following does not touch upon the reality I was hoping to describe: "Clearly she is putting the onus on whites as I wrote.  I did not write, as you claim, that she is putting the onus solely on whites." I was arguing that you were incorrect about the sentence you do take responsibility for.

    Data shows that a back with a college degree has the same chance of employment as a white high school dropout 


    A black man with a clean record has the employment rate of a white ex-felon


    Black poverty tends to be clustered because of how housing is done in the United States. White poverty is spread out


    Does any of that suggest that white privilege at multiple economic levels to you?

    Okay, these are good questions and I think they deserve a fair response.  I agree that blacks have it significantly worse than whites.  There are at least three ways to look at that.  One is that  blacks suffer from discrimination.  Two is that whites benefit from privilege.  Three is it's a little of both.  How you frame the problem determines how you try to solve it. 

    If you frame it as largely one of discrimination, you try to remove the various factors that lead to discrimination and improve the conditions of those who are now victims.  I believe Senator Sanders platform does this. 

    So when you talk about the difficulties that blacks have getting good jobs, you would look at various ways to create many more good jobs and ensure that African-Americans get their fair share.

    When you discuss the dense concentration of poor blacks in inner cities and rural backwaters, you would look at ways to reduce poverty rates and to build communities that are integrated both as to race and ethnicity as well as by income.

    If you frame the problem as mostly one of privilege then you take away privileges from members of the dominant group.  In response to the paucity of good jobs available to African-Americans, you would take away good jobs from whites. 

    If you bemoan the privilege that some poor whites enjoy in getting to live next door to or in the same school districts as middle-class people, you would isolate poor whites just as poor blacks are now isolated.

    If you believe as I (and Sanders) do that there is discrimination in society and there is also privilege, you would try to determine who is discriminated against and who is privileged.  You would try to end the discrimination and take away the privileges.  My belief is the most obvious class of privileged people are the wealthiest and their privileges largely derive from their affluence.  I would take away some of their wealth through much more progressive taxes on income and inheritance - perhaps on wealth too. 

    We should address discrimination against blacks in the ways I outlined above.  But we must also be cognizant of the fact that millions of whites and blacks are impoverished and we have a duty to alleviate their impoverishment just as we have a duty to address racial disparities.

    There is a little doublespeak. If Sanders addresses discrimination, the black college graduate trumps the high school guy/gal and the black person with a clean record gets the job rather than the white ex-felon. Are you calling that situation taking jobs from a white person?

    The clustering of housing could be changed by addressing redlining 


    The data I provided above on employment and the information on redlining places racism at the forefront in the minds of many African-Americans. Sanders seem slow to shift his view from economics only as the cure all. Hillary addressed the concerns of many black voters.

    I think people should be able to get jobs they're qualified for and have demonstrated the skills to fill successfully.  I don't think people who are hired to fill entry-level positions are privileged.  If a high school dropout works her way up from shoe saleswoman to store manager she shouldn't lose her job to a college grad.  If a college grad with engineering degrees can't get a job because companies aren't developing new products due to stagnant demand, we need to figure out a way to stimulate demand so there are more engineering jobs.

    I don't call deciding to hire a more qualified black over a less qualified white taking a job from a white person.  I call firing a white person who is doing his job well to hire anybody else taking a job from a white person.

    Regarding housing, I support eliminating red-lining.  Ultimately, I'd like to see the government pursue a policy that stimulates the creation of many more locally-owned community banks, including minority owned banks, that really know their neighborhoods and are best-positioned to make decisions about to whom to extend credit.  As more good jobs are created, through government stimulus, the renunciation of "free trade" deals, and a much higher minimum wage, more African-Americans will have the cash to make downpayments and the credit to get a loan.

    We also need immediate government assistance for people who need housing but can't afford it.

    If you bemoan the privilege that some poor whites enjoy in getting to live next door to or in the same school districts as middle-class people, you would isolate poor whites just as poor blacks are now isolated.

    You are getting close to something here. Now imagine that it wasn't an idea about separation as a policy but the thing itself. The thing you are worrying about in your complaint has already happened.

    I don't know how to explain it more clearly. There is a time sequence thing going on here that you do not seem to accept as a thing but treat as a matter of bad rhetoric.

    Can I get a witness?

    Amen! ;-)

    Yes the poor are isolated in America and the black poor are more isolated than whites.  Southern poor people (white and black) tend to be more isolated than northern poor people.  Does that mean the northern poor are privileged or the southern poor are more oppressed.

    I have called for a solution to the problems faced by the poor and isolated - which I agree is worse than being poor and close to job centers and public transportation.  But I don't believe poor residents in middle-class neighborhoods are privileged and I also believe we have a duty to address the problems they face.

    If I am missing your broader point, I am sorry.

    I don't recognize anything I was trying to say in your response. 
    You could have been talking to anybody.
    Or nobody.


    Try again.  I really want to understand your criticism of my point. 

    Okay, I will try again.
    Let us start by stepping back from whatever Clinton or Sanders may be proposing and talk about the talk of "race neutrality" as something to think about. Those discussions include legal, philosophical, political and literary iterations of the phrase that absolutely do not cohere into a single object. In my previous remarks, I was making a reference to those who use the idea for nefarious ends. There are definitely groups who claim that we live an a "post racial" society and label those who don't agree as welfare whiners. Check it out. They have groups and donation buttons.

    The idea is also important in the struggle to the equal application of law. There are many cases where the limits of what counts as discrimination are too contextual to solve by simple a simple formula. There are other cases where a statute is patently discriminatory and struck down. And there are enforcers of the law who have a powerful influence on how the arguments made about policy and law intersect with the actual citizens who those decisions directly concern.

    There is the question of cultural identity and whether the goal of identity politics is to maintain a separate habitat or remove the conditions that separate them from others. I hang with the latter side but understand why the other side does not. Or I should say 'many sides'. The binary properties of black/white relations conceal many others.

    Have you read Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man?

    Thanks Moat.  I had a very long response but hit the wrong button and it was lost forever.  Let me try to be much briefer.  I do not believe "race neutrality" is achievable since people innately judge each other by appearance.  In any case, we shouldn't strive for it, at least not at this time, since "race neutrality" if it means anything at all would lead to calcifying structural racism. 

    I agree addressing racism is essential and also incredibly difficult.  I strongly support vigorous enforcement of the various civil rights laws that were passed in the 1960s and since then.  I also think we need a renewed commitment to true economic justice for all.  What solutions do you propose?

    I read Invisible Man many years ago but don't remember it vividly.  I will reread based on this colloquy.  I do remember with more specificity a Ralph Ellison short story in which he describes being humiliated at the age of 12 by being forced to "perform" in a racist show for the enjoyment of rich whites.

    The broader point is that poor blacks may not have ready access to supermarkets. They would see the life of the poor white in a middle-class neighborhood as privileged. Both groups need poverty addressed. Hillary hears the complaint that the blacks make. Sanders seems tone deaf. 

    Poor blacks are not asking to have something taken away from poor whites. That "take" message is identical to the argument that Conservatives make about blacks taking stuff from hard-working whites. I realize that you are not really arguing that blacks would be taking something from whites, but that is how it comes across. Hillary's message was that she understood the complaint blacks had. Whether you mean to or not, you are telling people who are the most marginalized to suppress their point of view.

    Edit to add:

    I think the real problem is that when black people state why they are angry, Bernie tells them that they are focusing on the wrong thing. It comes across as condescending. 

    I'm not arguing that blacks want to take something from poor whites.  I am arguing that the expression "white privilege" strongly implies that every white person - including homeless ones and those barely hanging on - is getting something (s)he shouldn't.  That message in my view dismisses the very real existential challenges many millions of Americans are facing and makes uniting people across racial lines nearly impossible.

    Regarding Bernie - I agree it would be a mistake for him to tell black people they are focusing on the wrong thing.  Perhaps Bernie's message could not have won over African-Americans because it's impossible to escape the fact that he disagrees strongly with some of President Obama's decisions.  That's too bad in my opinion because like Sanders I don't believe those decisions have been salutary for America or more narrowly communities of color.

    Thanks for responding

    I don't hear Hillary blaming all whites. I hear her saying that institutional and structural biases have an impact. Not pointing out white privilege ignores the barriers blacks face. Hollywood had to be forced to look at its biases regarding Oscar nominations. The NFL had to be forced to interview minorities for head coaching jobs. Heroin went from being an evil practiced by black thugs to a white health care issue. Poor black juvenile delinquents are treated more harshly than poor white juvenile delinquents. White privilege. At the other end of the spectrum, a white teen who drove over and killed multiple people was not incarcerated because he was too rich to know right from wrong. White privilege may be a distasteful term to you, but blacks see it continuously.

    Blacks expect Hillary to correct some of the things that Obama did like student loans. Sanders suggested that Obama should not be reelected. Sanders should have expected pushback from the black community. Sanders argues that Obama should have done more, then says he (Sanders) won't be able to accomplish much.

    You're most welcome RMRD - I think we are arguing semantics here.  We agree that American society is terribly unfair to millions - with the brunt of that unfairness falling on African-Americans.  We disagree on the appropriateness of the term white privilege to describe the current dynamic.  If you have additional interest in what I have to say on this topic (and I certainly would understand if you don't), here are links to three articles I posted at my site on the term "white privilege".  I will of course take very seriously any objections you have.




    Hal, I think your right in saying that rural whites are facing the same economic realities that their minority counterparts are facing. Fear and anger function similarly in the brain. I see people I grew up with everyday who are mad that they are working like dogs and things aren't getting better for them. The true reasons behind their struggles are hardly ever expressed. They blame Mexicans for taking their jobs, they see Obama as an illegitimate Muslim king, and they think America was this once great nation where everyone had a fair chance at the American dream. I don't know any Mexican that sent units of production to another country. Unrestrained capitalism has destroyed this country. Many working class whites woke up one morning and found out that life was going to be harder than the images we see on television. When I was in 1st grade I knew something was a little different about me. If you take two five year olds (one black and one white) and give them similar socioeconomic backgrounds whether good or bad and one of those kids will face obstacles the other won't. This is the crux of our problem. I live in a community where my neighbors kids walk around with hunting rifles throughout the winter; my black friends know they can't do this. I'm not saying white people have to be responsible for the privileges they aren't aware of having, but we can't pretend like being poor and white and being poor and black are the same thing. When I read the Capehart piece I didn't see it as a jab at white America. 

    Danny - the situation with the hunting rifles is awful.  Do you have any ideas how we can work together to change it?  You say the white kids have privileges.  Would it be fairer to say the black kids are discriminated against?  I know they sound the same but the solutions to the problems are different.  If the white kids are privileged, then society should take their privileges away.  If the black kids are discriminated against, we have have a duty to ensure they can do what the white kids can.

    This is just wonderful, Danny. So thoughtfully written and clearly heartfelt ... your usual outstanding work. Thank you!

    Great post, Danny. I'll admit I've spent more time than usual cringing at social media posts where fellow progressives express frustration or bewilderment about African-Americans supporting Hillary. And there's an ugly assumption that those voters either don't understand what's good for them or, worse yet, need someone to explain their interests to them.

    I generally don't expect that I, as a white progressive raised in New Hampshire, need to be going around the African-American community explaining things.

    What I don't hear many white people saying when they don't understand the African-American vote is, "Let's ask some African-American voters."

    Thanks Doc! I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to engage this post.

    Thank you for writing this article. I think it explores well the mentality of older folks who don't use the internet to get information. I'm a college student in the deep south and I voted for Bernie Sanders. My friends that vote also voted for him.

    I wish your article had made room to unpack why the younger generation is so motivated by Bernie's clear plans to address structural racism in criminal justice (ex: highest rated by Campaign Zero), his plan to give our community more economic power (54% of black folks make minimum wage which Bernie will double), his agenda to provide both healthcare and college education to all without respect to parental income (which will be a significant move to help our people achieve more in our lives and stay healthy), his calls for a change in how public schools are funded away from property tax so we're not stuck with high dropout rates while white kids get fancy schools, his proposal to create 13 million jobs in rebuilding America and 10 million jobs in clean energy at a time when the black unemployment rate is a national disgrace, and many other issues that will significantly improve the lives of black people in America.

    Contrast that with Hillary telling BLM activists in October that we needed to be the ones to figure out racism. Or last month, when she talked a game about white privilege needing to listen to black folks, but then shouted down the black girl and had her ejected from a fundraiser for rich white people. Or how a different black girl asked Hillary a question in a coffee shop, only to face the same indignant dismissal. Her track record has been devastating to millions of our families, her proposals going forward are weak, she talks about surrending to Republicans before she's even tried to fight, she tells old ladies in South Carolina that she'll stop gun violence but turns right around the next day begging for NRA lobbyist money.

    I want to see you publish a piece which explores the point of view of those of us who stay woke, not just focused on how the senior citizens in the south vote based on brand familiarity.

    Thank you. I did enjoy reading.

    Jay, though you and I disagree about our choice of candidate I'm somewhat compelled to say thank you. A debate among good people who disagree with sincerity and respect is the healthiest way for a democracy to succeed.

    Jay, a few comments from a mid-age southern geek.

    1) probably all of us want to raise the minimum wage. I think $15 is too much of a shock, but happy to discuss. I find it objectionable the "if not $15 you're wrong". $15 means $22 or so for an employer.  In lower Alabama, that's quite a big spend at the catfish hut or carwash or beauty salon or receptionist or for a Web designer or cold-calling call-center employee. In a pizza place that's maybe 3-4 pizzas to pay that salary per hour per employee, and on weekdays we had trouble selling 100 pizzas the whole night in a bigger city. A quick check, there's a $40k home on the highway in Hamilton, $280k in Jasper. These prices are way out of whack vs New York or California or Texas. So a one-size-fits-all model seems unworkable to me except as guideline. Fix it by state, region, town, or actively negotiate it to get some balance. Certainly current rate is too low. But if a black kid or untrained worker comes looking for an entry level menial job, a $22/hour employer cost is going to hurt the number of jobs available. Maybe make minimum wage kick in after 1 year? Just a thought. BTW, people who are retired on earlier pay would pay the higher $22/hour for health costs - check out the current price for assisted living or senior homes, and to have a minimum $22/hour + margin for someone to check in on you or check your medicine or drive you to your appointment starts to add up quickly.

    Free education without regards to parents income has little to do with the black experience, so I'm not sure why you're worried about it. Blacks in general get much more support in college, and the bigger issues are making it loan-free so not shackled for years to come, and making high school education better so blacks can compete once there - something that seems to be happening as BobSomerby tracks black vs white progress in school systems. I have a problem with completely free education, since I don't think people value free enough, and I see an issue where diverting more of the 18-22 group to college dries up a large source of workers along with military recruitment, so companies and the military will have to pay much more to recruit. May be good, may be bad - it bothers me that no one discusses, as it's a big change. And I don't see college as necessarily the answer to work preparation in 2016 when tech changes every 3 years and skills are upgraded constantly. I might be better off writing code or working in a research facility those 4 years (and much richer) than getting a general English and History and Science education abstracted from a job. In 2016 I can be trained for many jobs in 4 months - 4 years is a long time.

    Re: "Predator", it's a gotcha question not designed for sane debate. In 1992 there were almost 2 million violent crimes with 24,000 murders and 110,000 rapes, 700,000 robberies. While blacks accounted for 50% of the murders, they counted for 93% of the victims. Black leaders in 1992 understood this as a sickness that could not be tolerated, could not go on, and yes, there were predators, including gangs and crime syndicates committing these crimes, and victims were old and very young and often female. If your sister or mother or grandma or daughter got raped or murdered, I dont think "Predator" would be the mildest word to come out of your mouth. Think of it as a town the size of Anniston being completely murdered and all the females from 0-99 in Montgomery raped every year. Brings it home, eh?

    There was also police abuse, and after Rodney King, the policing had several years of self-examination to try to weed out unneeded physical force. Whether this succeeded by 1996 is a different question than whether it's very bad in 2015, and l'm first in line to condemn police predators and sick sadists and the reliance on brutal self-serving techniques rather than compassion and respect for the community - not only racial crimes, but 1000 cops lost their badges for sexual abuse over the last 6 years - likely many more uncaught. But does your BLM activist acknowledge a drop from 25000 murders a year to 16000 over 9 years, or is whether a politician said "Predator" one time our biggest concern?

    So while I appreciate Bernie's optimism, I'm concerned about real-world context and knock-on effects. A few years ago, Alabama politicians refused a Republican governor's request to raise taxes a bit for an education system in crisis. Alabama's not the friendliest place for lgbt or atheists or even unions. What's doable in the northeast is a generation away in the southeast, thou in some places it's getting better. But certainly few in Alabama want Bernie's revolution the way he's described, even if they might like some pieces.


    Thanks Jay McD - good points all.

    Thanks for engaging this piece. I think your concerns are real. The plurality of support Hillary Clinton got from the black community in the south is a function of the generation gap Bernie faces- irrespective of race. You know that traditional media has done Bernie a disservice, but there were mistakes his campaign has made when it comes to reaching out to older voters. Bernie has drawn the biggest crowds, but those crowds haven't led to a higher voter turn out. Hillary has a lot of flaws as a candidate, but she's done a much better job of hiding them. I wrote about this particular aspect of the race because I spend a lot of time with older people and they have much more electoral power than their grandchildren who support Bernie. I sincerely appreciate the time it took from your studies to address this piece. Get out and be active! It's not enough to vote, stay engaged, attend city and county budget meetings, and force people in power to defend the decisions they make. Keep pushing!

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