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Est. April 5, 2002
April 28, 2016 - Issue 651

Feeling the Bern
Multiracial Movement Needed

"In 2016, even with a Black man in
the White House, the United States
is no closer to ridding itself of the
racial caste system that built it than
it was 150 years ago. The progressive
community needs to show up, now."

This week, there were more primaries. Earlier trends continued with Hillary Clinton getting more Black votes than Bernie Sanders. As a Black Bernie Sanders supporter, it breaks my heart to see the degree to which Hillary Clinton has been able to rely on my people, especially in light of the fact that it doesn’t go both ways.

So why do the Clintons have such a stranglehold in the Black Community? Is it possible that what we’re seeing is that the Clintons have taken a page from the Southern Strategy playbook?

Like the right-wing political strategists of the past who so effectively turned White southern Democrats into Republicans, could it be that the Clintons figured that if conservatives could win by making race a central component of their strategic campaign – they could too?

Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, wrote a piece in the Nation Magazine that talks to the reasons that Hillary Clinton does not deserve the Black vote. But she also talked about why the Clintons have so much appeal within the Black community. In an interview conducted by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Alexander says that Bill Clinton was the first president to embrace Black people as human beings instead of as a problem to be solved. She went on to suggest that older Black voters, so accustomed to being ignored by the political class, felt that Clinton’s overtures into the Black community were authentic.

I don’t know if Bill Clinton was sincere but I do know that his policies damaged the Black community and his interactions within the Black community paid dividends well beyond what was deserved. For White progressives who cannot understand why the Clintons gained such traction with the Black community, all I can say is that they showed up—and that’s not nothing.

Just take a look at the racial landscape of the United States. As much as this country claims to be post-racial, social and economic indicators suggest otherwise. In 2016, even with a Black man in the White House, the United States is no closer to ridding itself of the racial caste system that built it than it was 150 years ago. The progressive community needs to show up, now.

Cell phone technology, along with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, have made it abundantly clear to the rest of America that African Americans are under assault. While there have been some non-black allies, the progressive movement in general hasn’t taken on anti-black racism. I’ve seen direct actions for women’s issues, justice for Palestine, anti-fracking actions, actions opposing the military industrial complex, animal protection actions, and to a lesser degree actions in support of the labor movement. But the urgent need for a frontal attack on anti-black racism—an issue that has been with this nation since its inception—is lacking in the progressive movement.

So now, unfortunately, the chickens are coming home to roost. The Bernie Sanders campaign—with its lack of support from the African American community—puts a spotlight on a problem that is not insurmountable but may be too late to address for Bernie.

Like the growing numbers of Black Bernie Sanders supporters, I am doing all I can to change the tide. Supporters like former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, Congressional Representative Keith Ellison, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, Hollywood activists/actors Rosario Dawson, Danny Glover, Spike Lee, Harry Belafonte and others are trying to be as visible as they can in an effort to change the tide for Sanders.

And I hope they are successful but the progressive movement in general has been largely unengaged with the crises facing America’s Black communities. Martin Luther King once said, “We’re all tied together in a single garment of mutual destiny”.  Until that sentiment is truly reflected in the progressive movement, I cannot see how we as a movement will ever possess the power needed to change this nation. Editorial Board member and Columnist, Sharon Kyle, JD, is the Co-Founder and Publisher of the LA Progressive an online social justice magazine. With her husband Dick, she publishes several other print and online newsletters on political and social justice issues. In addition to her work with the LA Progressive, Ms. Kyle holds a Juris Doctorate, is an adjunct professor at Peoples College of Law in Los Angeles, and sits on the board of the ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Chapter and the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. Click here to contact the LA Progressive and Ms. Kyle.




is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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