[I sometimes write notes to myself that I never intend to publish or at least not for a while, just to jot down my thoughts. This is one of ’em, mostly unedited — Tengrain]
I was sort of out of the loop when Bernie Sanders came to Seattle (too focused on the GOP debate), and I probably would have walked downtown had I known in time. In a way I’m glad I didn’t because I would have (at first blush) been upset with the way he was shut down by #BlackLivesMatter.
#BlackLivesMatter shutting down Bernie for the second (or more) time seemed like unfocused anger. But this is not completely unfocused anger, or at least I don’t think so. Forgive me if I start to white’splain, but I’m trying to sincerely understand this.
Today when I write this is the 1 year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death by gunfire at the hands of the police in Ferguson Missouri. From the WaPo I learned that every 9 days the police shoot and kill an unarmed black man. That number reflects 40% of unarmed deaths by police, and that illustrates what is essentially institutionalized or structural racism as blacks are no where near 40% of the population.
When #BlackLivesMatter protest, the reality on the ground motivating them is this disproportionate response of the police in particular and of society in general that they are being killed in large numbers for no other reason than their race. They have a point.
Not to sound too much like Tweety (Chris Matthews), it’s all about strategy. When you create an action, like a protest you plan for a specific outcome. Matthews MSNBC gig essentially rates the effectiveness of the strategy. He comes off as a sociopath because we want to ascribe motive to his analysis, but he is only concerned with outcome: was it effective, Yes or No?
The closest I come to understanding why #BLM is going after the Left is because that is where their leverage is. The Dems know that they need all hands on deck and that includes people of color. So #BlackLivesMatter are applying pressure to the Left because they have leverage there. Bernie currently needs more support more than Hillary, and he enjoys a life-long civil rights record, so he is likely to be persuaded to join to the #BLM cause.
Today Bernie, and maybe tomorrow Hillary though so far she does not go out and meet the public in public. #BLM is about pressure.
Take Your Fight To Your Enemies
I was watching some of the best voices on the left last night decrying how #BlackLivesMatter were hitting their allies and not their enemies; I was going to say something similar but then decided to follow the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and look for clarity.
Two things become clear to me: 1) No one was listening to what #BLM was saying, and 2) we white liberals were trying to white’splain why Bernie was a bad target for their rage.
One comment (and I didn’t capture the Tweet) was that black activists cannot get in front of the GOP, and if they could they know that they would be shot. It was kind of a stunning moment of clarity. You do what you can to get your message out—there is no such thing as bad publicity?
Generally I believe you take your fight to your enemies, and in this instance that should be the Republicans. But given that the Republicans are now the Confederacy reborn, proudly racist and working hard to suppress people of color, Republicans have nothing to gain and everything to lose if they make any accommodation of African-Americans.
So What We Done For You Lately?
I think #BlackLivesMatter is making a strategic decision to get a strong commitment from the Left. They’ve been given a lot of words for a long time, but as we at MPS have been saying forever, look at the record and not at the rhetoric (we usually say that about candidates from both parties). So, what have we done for you lately? I usually hurl that at Republicans when they bring up that Lincoln freed the slaves; maybe I need more introspection here?
I don’t know if this is the strategy that #BlackLivesMatter is employing, but it is the only way it makes sense to me. They don’t want white guys like me to tell them to pipe down and quit being rude, they don’t need white guys like me telling them to wait their turn. They’ve been waiting for their turn for generations, more accurately since the country was founded. #BlackLiveMatter is demanding their due.
I’m a white guy and I make assumptions all the time, so I don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to understanding race in America from the black perspective. But I think I get this.
I’m going to shut-up and listen. There’s more I can learn here.
UPDATE 1: Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Adds Young Black Woman As New Public Face:
“Symone Sanders is a young, black, criminal justice advocate and supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. She’s also a progressive political activist right out of the Sanders mold: Her last job was at Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen. In an interview, Symone Sanders said she first connected with the senator about three weeks ago, offering him advice on how to better understand the message of Black Lives Matter activists in an hour-long chat.
“One of my suggestions, he took it and ran with it on Meet the Press, is that racial inequality and economic inequality are parallel issues,” she said. “I [told him,] you know, economic equality is an issue. It’s something we need to address. But for some people it doesn’t matter how much money you make, it doesn’t matter where you went to school, it doesn’t matter what your parents do. It doesn’t matter that Sandra Bland had a job and was on her way to teach for her alma mater. It doesn’t matter. None of that matters.”
UPDATE 2: At Progressive Pond, Booman has a great, longish post up. Required Reading.