Well, yes. Wouldn’t a leftish ‘progressive’ electoral coalition including BlackLives activists be a lovely way to assure that the Rabble Class achieve economic, educational, social, and civil rights justice? Why the fooque then, can’t those sassy women quit interrupting Bernie with their angry tirades at largely white Bernie gatherings? ‘Middle class jobs will be good for black lives!’ ‘Bernie has plenty of history of voting for helpful programs for people of color!’ Just imagine the nerve of Tia Oso and Patrisse Cullors standing up and demanding that Sanders and O’Malley tell the room what they would do to stop the rampant killing of blacks by police! ‘They made no friends that day’, we hear. ‘Everyone suffers from militarized police!, not just blacks; let’s unite!*’ ‘They made sure they’re seen as whiny idiots from here on!’
*Well, except for these fact, of course. According to the Guardian’s ‘The Counted‘, 711 US citizens were killed by police since Jan. 1; per million, whites were killed at a rate of 1.73, blacks at 4.4, Hispanics/Latinos 1.87. 184 of the 711 were black; 8 were Native American. Cities with most deaths: Los Angeles (12), Houston (10), Phoenix (8), Oklahoma City (7), and San Francisco (6). Given that ‘race’ is a modern social construct, those numbers might be hard to determine, especially with mixed-race citizens.
To be sure, the #BLM activists don’t seem aware that other classes of disenfranchised citizens are being assassinated and brutalized, as well: First Americans, the mentally ill, the homeless, Hispanics in ABQ and LA…and it will be good when they wake up to that fact, of course. But for blacks, especially those of the Rabble class, stopping the killing has reached the emergency level.
Chris Savage of electablog had an epiphany during the event:
“At times he plunged on, talking over the protesters as if they weren’t there. While he is largely a supporter of civil rights and is, in general, right on the issues of the Black Lives Matter movement, he came across as a self-important know-it-all who has better things to do than to listen to uppity black kids who are disrupting HIS speech. In the end, he took off his microphone and left the stage without as much as a wave to the audience.
Sitting in the middle of this maelstrom was a fascinating experience. I, like many of the others there, was initially irritated by the protestors. I was there to hear the candidates and was frustrated that they weren’t being heard. Even a bit angry, in fact. “These are your allies,” I thought. “Why on earth are you attacking them? Why are you disrupting an event where the people there are sympathetic to your cause?”
Every single one of these emotions that ran through my white privileged brain in the first few moments of the protest until I was slapped across the face with what I was being forced to confront. Every single one of these emotions are felt acutely and painfully every single day by racial minority groups in our country. But, instead of being inconvenienced by not being able to hear a politician speak, they face them in the context of being slaughtered in the streets by the police officers who are tasked to protect them, incarcerated in astonishingly disparate numbers, and blamed for not being able to escape from the prison of poverty that holds far too many of them in bondage.”
How fine it is that Savage jettisoned so much of his white privilege to finally hear the young women’s plaintive cries. Poverty also often means that blacks sit in jail for minor offenses since they can’t afford bail; Riker’s Island stats on that are horrendous, as of course they have been in Ferguson, Baltimore, and many other communities.
How much ink has been spilled by now in answer to Angry Black Lady’s (Imani Gandy) retorts to Bernie post-Netroots Nation in Phoenix? Yeah, she was rude and crude. And furious, but that’s her brand, and why she named herself ABL, for cripe’s sake. She’s asking: So what if ya marched with MLK in the 60s if ya storm off the stage when confronted with hard questions about Black Lives?
It’s a good question, especially if we note how easy it is to mouth Great and Inspirational Words later on, after preparation, to gain votes.
The movement, of course, is not monolithic, and various longer-term committees have formed to decide on ways to proceed. Justice Together (hasn’t decided, it seems), Hands Up United, Ferguson Action Team, Bay Area Solidarity, CCR’s Law4blacklives, and apparently even a semi-official #BlackLivesMatter group, for instance.
Now on one of Kevin Gosztola’s ‘Bernie’ diaries, a few apparent Sandernistas (h/t Jeffrey St. Claire) claimed that the Black Women Bernie Interrupters at the Seattle Medicare and #BLM itself are funded by George Soros, and have attacked Sanders (poor Bernie) and not Clinton because of it; I have no idea, and really: so what? Blacks voting for her is a ludicrous proposition, imo, given her record before she became a populist, ha; but then anyone who’d vote for her…(well, never mind).
But I will say that many of the movement’s Tweeters (no, I won’t name names) are expressly Democrats, which does boggle my mind. They praise Eric Holder (wth?), Obama, and now Bernie, and seem thrilled that after the Interruptions in Seattle, he hired a young black woman as his press secretary, woot!
Also heard on those threads were charges that they don’t want white allies! Well sure they do, and Asians and Latino/as and more…but some folks have laid down some ground rules; this is the best list I’ve seen, from Bay Solidarity. The first rule amounts to ‘quit telling us what to do!’, though much more polite and reasoned. As for charges that ‘the movement’ doesn’t know get just how interrelated economic justice is to their oppression, one fairly comprehensive list comes from the Ferguson Action Committee’s ‘Our Vision for a New America’.
He is a fast learner, our Bern, I’ll give him that, and post-Netroots, made some great comments at the SCLC conference in Baton Rouge at the end of July. He’d gathered names, positions and solutions that would help black lives, and even implied that MLK would approve of his candidacy, since: MLK was all about alleviating poverty before he was assassinated. True, but the candidate seems to have blown right by Radical Dr. King’s speeches against capitalism, militarism, and Imperical foreign wars. In fact, Bernie’s website doesn’t even have *any* categories for foreign policy, the surveillance state, or the military budget on the Issues page, speaking of disconnects. That he fails to have those as Issues may indicate his recent decisions to not be an AIPAC puppet, or that he’s a US Imperialist at heart, but certainly, he is a reformist capitalist. Had he chosen to run on a third party ticket as a Democratic Socialist, even….but no; he’s running as a Democrat.
His new ‘Racial Justice’ page is great of course, save for a few quibbles I have with it. Does he say in his town halls: “The police must stop the killings and abject brutality”? I hope so, but again, he seems to be pretty late to that party considering what’s been going on for so long in the various stop the police from killing us and brutalizing us movements.
Bruce Dixon of BAR has weighed in on the #BLM movement as captured by the Democratic Party:
“Why doesn’t the #BlackLivesMatter movement, supposedly focused upon the unique needs of people of color, have any critique of the black political class, almost all Democrats, who have been key stakeholders in the building of the prison state, in gentrification and school privatization from New Orleans to Detroit and beyond, and who helped peddle the subprime mortgages to black families which exploded and cut black family wealth by nine-tenths? Have they even noticed that a black president has closed and privatized more public schools than any other in US history? For all the big words they use, do they ever mention the word “capitalism”?
He quotes Alicia Garza on the radio waxing happy about their effects on the Democrats at NetRoots:
“So I feel really proud of our team for pulling back the curtain, right? You saw that as a result of those actions what happened was every single one of those candidates scrambled to release statements to be closer aligned to the program the vision and the demands of the black lives matter movement.”
But as far as Capitalism itself acting as a major, if not the major, force that’s behind the ever-burgeoning police state and milking the Rabble for all they’re worth (which includes mass incarceration, of course), I can’t think of one radical black Leftist who doesn’t name it as The Prime Culprit, can you? Protecting property over people, a well. Or this horrific bigotry: ‘NYPD union introduces vagrant-shaming photos to address quality-of-life issues’. Yes, they should find homes and not detract from our city’s ‘quality of life’. Grrrrr.
Victory declared. Pretty low bar, and where have we heard these rousing stump speeches before? The only true thing Obama ever said was that Ronald Reagan was his favorite transformational President ever, as far as I can remember.
And when Davey asked about forming or joining a third party, apparently Garza said a lot of words, but never answered the question.
Paul Street asks:
“…why does Sanders have nothing to say about the recent significant positive social democratic, poverty-reducing, and egalitarian accomplishments of governments that have taken an historic Left turn in Latin America – Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Argentina – or about the remarkable poverty-reducing accomplishments of the Cuban Revolution? Among the many explanations for Sanders’ silence on the noteworthy achievement of Latin American populism and socialism (achieved over and against U.S. opposition and intervention), we cannot discount race – a stubborn white reluctance to acknowledge that Uncle Sam might have anything to learn from his supposedly inferior, non-white neighbors in South America.”
Now from where I sit, principled social movements often die when they’re turned into electoral machines instead of keeping the pressure on from outside the system. One recent cautionary tale was the massive activist response to the Walker government’s ending collective bargaining, and the abject failure of the movement to unseat those in power; they now seem to believe that they have a mandate to Screw the People of the state, and their portion of the planet as well.
So I would hate to see the movement falter and turn to electoral politics instead. Weighing on the issue at TRNN are BAR editor Glen Ford and founding member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation Eugene Puryear discussing ‘Voting and Civil Rights Acts Won Not With Votes, But Through Struggle’. It’s by no means a barn-burner of a discussion, and Puryear seemed all over the map, but I’ll bring a snippet or two.
“Well of course there’s a value in understanding one’s history. In terms of elections in the United States, nothing takes place outside of the purview of monopoly capital. It’s interesting, until the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and related developments, there was one, only one party of capital in the South, and that was the Democratic party. And much of the civil rights movement was concerned with integrating that Democratic party, with getting rid of the all-white Democratic primary.
Once we had the Voting Rights Act, and three years later Richard Nixon, a Republican, puts in effect his Southern strategy, we see the movement of right people out of the Democratic party and the concomitant result among black folks that today not only are almost all black elected officials Democrats, but virtually all of the major black organizations are also annexes of the Democratic party. I’m talking about the NAACP and the National Urban League, virtually all of the leadership conference on civil rights. Certainly Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, basically all of them. And when this black political class calls a summit meeting, as they pompously sometimes do, what it really turns into, what it really is, is a meeting of black Democrats.
And that means that this leadership class, entirely Democratic, is absolutely incapable of speaking up for the interests of the masses of black folks against the forces of Wall Street who really control the Democratic party apparatus. These folks, these black Democrats, collaborate every day with the ruling class. This wedding of, this absorption in of the Democratic party has meant that the last two generations there’s been no independent black politics in the United States, and we’re not going to see any independent black politics in the United States until the advent of a new mass, grassroots black movement. That’s where the leadership will come from.”
Ball asks why Johnson signed the voting rights act, no matter what he said behind the scenes.
“Well, it was a black movement of masses of people in the street. [snip] And that had the powers that be quite nervous about what kind of America was being born out of this discussion within the black community and with our allies. And of course, cities were burning with some regularity.
And so of the measurement of black political power, if it’s limited to just voting power, it really sells short our capabilities in this country. There’s much more to politics than just voting. And in fact that’s one of the tools that the rulers use to keep voters feeling powerless, is to say that, it’s to define all politics as being going to some polling, some polling booth every two or four, six years.”
You may enjoy reading Bree Newsome’s ‘When Oppression Is the Status Quo, Disruption Is a Moral Duty’.
And for your (chortle) amusement: Sam Huseini’s ‘New Mural in D.C.: Shooting the “War Thug” Presidents in the Balls’
“Some good citizen of Washington committed an act of street justice against the most fearsome gang of thugs imaginable: 11 U.S. presidents. The mass-killers-in-chief were hit with a fusillade of paint balls to the imperial crotch – a low blow to the low-lifes who have terrorized humanity from the White House.” Splat!
At NetRoots Nation, they sang: