Black Votes Matter: Understanding Why Bernie Lost in Missouri

Dear Bernie Sanders supporters:
 
It looks like Bernie will narrowly lose Missouri by less than a percentage point (as well as another close defeat in Illinois). He will end up splitting those delegates but it was more about the symbolic victory that he needed that he did not get. That being said, the race is not over despite what CNN and Politico will tell you. But, it is certainly an uphill battle as long as Bernie continues to do poorly with the Black vote. If that does not shift he will not be able to win the Democratic nomination. However, this must be put in proper context because I continue to see this being misunderstood and I believe that Missouri is a powerful example of why things are the way they are.
 
While it appears Black folks (that voted) in St Louis county overwhelming supported Hillary Clinton, there’s several things that should be examined more closely. One year ago, as Shaun King and others have pointed out, Bernie Sanders was virtually unknown in the region. Clinton on the other hand has been a household name nationally for decades. While Bernie’s been working quite effectively as an Independent legislator in DC, he’s been primarily focused on his quest to help the working man, Veterans, and to curtail Wall Street corruption. His virtual tie with Hillary in Missouri and Illinois is certainly impressive, when you contrast the fact that he’s literally running as David vs the Goliath sized Clinton machine. Even though he didn’t pull off huge upsets on Tuesday he did score a lot of delegates and the bulk of the race outside of the South and Midwest is still to come.
 
But it must be said that Bernie Sanders and his campaign are unknown in the St Louis region for other reasons too. Had Sanders spent some real time there (Ferguson and St Louis), with Black leaders in the community, college students, and disaffected youth over the past couple years, he would have more than likely won Missouri by a healthy margin (he lost the State by only a thousand or so votes). I’m not saying that Bernie should’ve been in the streets with rapper Tef Poe during the Ferguson uprising, but at some point Cornel West was there, Rosa Clemente was there, Talib Kweli was there, and Bernie could’ve have been there. That’s at the very least what it would’ve taken to make the necessary moves to defeat the Clinton machine.
 
To be fair, Bernie did speak on it:
 
“When you see the kind of force that’s been used in
Ferguson, it really does make it appear that the
police department there is an occupying army in a
hostile territory and that is absolutely not what we
want to see in the U.S.” – Aug. 2014 
 
But, understanding what’s going on in Missouri is a lot more complex than just assuming Hillary gets the Black vote by default because Bernie wasn’t in the trenches or because people know the Clinton name. Some Black folks are simply not voting at all. This is in part because the top of the Democratic party in the state is a joke and quite uninspiring. Look no further than the DA there, Bob Mcculloch, who is a Democrat. A man who did everything in his power to ensure Darren Wilson avoided a trial… he was just re-elected! While other crooked DA’s were rebuked and defeated in Chicago and Cleveland, he managed to survive. As DA, Mcculloch has not only been a staunch supporter of the Police union that backed Wilson, but a Ferguson Police department that was sued by the Justice Department for “a pattern and practice of unconstitutional police conduct.” The point being, the very party that Progressives are asking Black folks in Missouri to rally behind for their nominee as President, is the technically same party in that state that worked to exonerate the man that killed Michael Brown. Not even a trial. Therefore there’s not much trust in the process. Tef Poe infamously stated in a PBS town hall called ‘America After Ferguson,’ that he “voted for Barack Obama twice and still got tear gassed.”
So, while Bernie Sanders believes in policies that would certainly be better for communities of color than a Neo-liberal agenda, some Black folks just don’t believe in the process. Whether we like it or not they have good reason to feel that way. Because the Democrats in St Louis and in DC, for decades have helped to push “Conservative” Drug policies that literally KILL the Black community. Thus, when White Progressives say “How could ‘they’ vote for Hillary?” understand that it’s a lot deeper than what we are seeing.
 

The same goes for Trump supporters!
 
Although Racism and bigotry is often the overriding catalyst for the fervor we see at a #TrumpRally, the bulk of Trump’s base are working class, undereducated Whites that have continually supported a Republican Party that has never worked for their best interests. Many of these people are dumbed down, and broken down by a system that’s never delivered their American Dream (or perhaps took it away), and they have good reason to be upset. Sadly, they’re focusing their rage, as well as their allegiance, toward the wrong people. It’s the Trump’s, and the Koch Bros, and the corporations that fund Hillary, that have been screwing them over, not the darker skin boogiemen that they rally against. If they were going to build an effective Wall, it would be one around Washington DC and Wall Street to use as a jail to lock the crooks inside. This is not to allow Racists or White supremacists a pass for their rhetoric and violence. Getting screwed by the political system isn’t an excuse to scream “Fuck those dirty beaners” and “Kill the Protestors” at rallies. But, if we want to decrease the odds of Fascist right-wing Demagogues being elected, we may want to pay closer attention to these people. Perhaps delve into a little more empathy. It’s not exactly sympathy for the devil unless you are crying tears for the puppet masters pulling their strings.

We have a lot of work to do… and it’s much bigger than one election cycle!
 
Although I will continue to push Bernie to the convention and beyond if necessary, it doesn’t begin and end with a single candidate. Especially if we turn around and go home after Election Day. As Van Jones has pointed out, “yes We can” quickly turns into “yes He can,” when we disengage. And when we leave it up to a single person to make magic happen in a corporate controlled system, we create a false messiah figure and the results are almost always less than what we hope for. Indeed, if Hillary ultimately becomes the nominee, most Progressives will likely rally behind her rather than allow a silver spooned goon (favorite son of Neo-Nazis and Klansmen) to become the next President. But upon her election, no matter what she has promised Bernie and his supporters, she will predictably veer right, right back to where she’s always been. Right back to where the Military Industrial Complex lay in waiting, and right where her Wall Street money comes from. Until we get the corporate-special interest influence out of the election process, or in all likelihood, until we finally decide to tear down the two-party system, this maddening process will continue. Even if we elect Bernard Sanders as Killer Mike calls him, if we do not continue to push the rest of the system forward, he will be held captive by obstruction and crony-capitalism much like President Obama.
 

Note: My hope is that the candidacy of Bernie Sanders (regardless of the outcome), a campaign without a Super PAC and without Wall Street money, a campaign that’s been able to change the entire narrative of the Democratic establishment during the primary, opens the door for future Progressive leaders. One’s that will be younger, perhaps less white, and less male. More representative of the future of this nation.

– Nate Mezmer

#FewMayKnow
#FeelTheBern

A Declaration of White Privilege in Missouri (Responding to “An Open Letter to Jonathan Butler”)

I cannot understate this. As a White man, the “OPEN LETTER TO JONATHAN BUTLER & #CONCERNEDSTUDENTS195” is possibly the most ignorant thing I’ve ever read in my entire life. Not that I haven’t been exposed to very hateful and overtly racist writings before. I was a History major at UC Davis and chose to specialize in the history of the United States and Race in America. I’m familiar with declarations of racial superiority made by the KKK and I’m aware of racist rulings by Judges in favor of slavery and segregation. This is not that.
 
This is worse.
 
This might very well be the best declaration of White Privilege, ever. The ‘Declaration of Dependence’ upon an invisible knapsack.
 
Perhaps the most telling statement this anonymous writer makes:
 
“My mind is overwhelmed with thoughts and questions about what I have seen lately, and maybe it’s just me…but there are things I don’t understand, things that I want to question, and things that I need to say.”
 
This proclamation boldly announces to the reader that the writer is genuinely concerned, frustrated, confused, and clearly speaking from a place of emotion and ignorance.
 
While this “Open Letter” is poorly written, and rambles along like an old drunk at the bar, it’s an excellent example of the dangers of being blind to White Privilege.
 
Indeed, many White people in my White experience tend to misunderstand and confuse the concept of “White Privilege,” often thinking its about a simplistic concept, as defined by access to wealth, or access to opportunity. Many feel that if they themselves are not rich, or did not grow up with a silver spoon, they don’t see how they can be “privileged.”
 
This misconception that White “privilege” is solely about success and wealth, often works together with personal feelings that we cannot  be “racist” because we do not feel hateful in our hearts. Perhaps we “have black friends” or have had romantic relationships with people of color, so therefore the logic is we cannot be racist. Furthermore, many Whites often confuse individual prejudice with systemic racism, and cannot come to terms with the idea that: while Black people can indeed be prejudice or hateful, they cannot be “racist” by definition in a structural sense. The example of this is that a Black person can certainly dislike White people, or be prejudice against whites, however those feelings (or actions) are not backed by the weight of the system (society) which throughout our history has been built and controlled by Whites and concepts of White supremacy.
 
That is, Black people have not prevented Whites from being free. Black people have never commonly organized to hunt and kill Whites. Black people have not prevented Whites from owning land. Black people have not prevented Whites from voting. Black people have not prevented Whites from playing sports. Black people have not prevented Whites from eating in public restaurants. Black people have not prevented Whites from swimming in public pools. Black people have not prevented Whites from integrating schools. Black people have not prevented Whites from receiving bank loans. Black people have not created drug enforcement policy that uses racial bias to target Whites. Black people have not passed laws that disparately sentence Whites for the same crimes. Black people have not built private prisons to profit from incarcerating disproportionate numbers of White people. Black people are not actively attempting to prevent Whites from profiting from the distribution of marijuana. Black people did not create a society in which human beings with “One drop” of “Black blood” are deemed as ‘Black‘ rather than ‘White,’ unless they can “pass” as otherwise.
 
So, although this particular White Privilege piece aimed at Jonathan Butler and Black students at #Mizzou is not radically violent or threatening. It helps to illustrate that the most dangerous kind of White Supremacy is simply a well-intentioned White person being utterly unaware of what White Privilege is in the first place. This lack of awareness of racial privilege, is a greater force than any purposeful denial, or calculated hatred. It’s a ferociously blind unconsciousness that maintains an atmosphere to birth the ideas of a Dylann Roof. It’s an inability to be empathetic, let alone concerned with the plight of people living in a place called Chi-Raq, and thus in part responsible. It’s a mindset that is categorically unaware of the daily realities of systemic oppression faced by people of color. Therefore it is to be ignorant of the basic advantages that come along with never having to navigate such obstacles.
 
But let’s be clear. This “Open Letter” is not the devious thoughts of a madman. These are very loud, confused, and racist feelings of someone who doesn’t wholly understand the History of the United States and it’s entanglement with White Supremacy. It’s to be absolutely unable to see the proverbial forrest through the tress. It’s to be both a benefactor and a mental slave to the pitfalls of privilege and supremacy and not even know it. This heavy amount of “not knowing,” or not understanding, can thus be startling and very scary when faced with it head on. Like a glitch in ‘the Matrix,’ many Whites choose to ignore the hard truths of racial inequality and revert to the ease of ignorance. The alternative is often too disruptive and challenges our concept of reality and what we are used to.
 
Paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King, the greatest threat to Black America achieving freedom and equality, is not the Klan, but the White Moderate that’s more dedicated to order, than justice.
 
In 2015, this pointed observation still rings true.
 
#FewMayKnow
#ConcernedStudent1950

A Father’s Righteous Anger and Reactions to Injustice

I watched this Video earlier today several times via Shaun King’s Twitter. It is one of the most powerful things I’ve viewed in a long time. It shows the father of a student at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, very angrily (and eloquently) address the school board and the Sheriff’s department in the wake of a viral video showing a Black Teenage girl being body slammed by an on-campus Police officer named Ben Fields.

This South Carolina father KEEPS IT REAL on the victimization …These 3 minutes, from this angry father in South Carolina, are about the realest 3 minutes anybody has spoke in 2015. Must see stuff.

Posted by Shaun King on Sunday, November 1, 2015

 

When watching this video each of his points speak volumes, however I believe it is the question that this man poses at the end, about the “reaction” that is most important. Indeed it runs parallel to the conversation that I spoke about on my Twitter and personal Facebook page in the wake of uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore.

That is: Riots are not actions in the name of justice, they are reactions to extreme levels of injustice.

In that context, when the board member witlessly says not to “make threats,” he not only misinterprets this man’s very righteous level of anger, he misses the entire point being made. The bigger picture question is not “what is the point?” of such rage, but rather “how did it get to that point?” And what are WE as a Nation going to do about inequitable conditions that foster these types of situations.

This is why BLACK LIVES MATTER is so necessary, not just as a movement to bring about awareness and conversation, but actual political change to push forward policy and legislation.

Because reprimanding this particular officer is merely symbolic, if policy and protocol within the School District and Sheriff’s Department does not change. After all the officer was eventually fired but if there was any semblance of fairness or justice, he would’ve been charged with assault. Moreover, the fact that the School Board member perceives this father’s anger as a threat, and responds to him with a highly unexamined level of reproach sums up the great Racial divide in this country. Indeed it’s a level of ignorance to injustice and oppression that often correlates directly with White privilege and systemic inequity.  The same goes for all my fellow White people yelling about Black folks “rioting” and “burning down their own neighborhood” instead of trying to understand the conditions of injustice that have led to this point.

#FewMayKnow

PSA on White Privilege

 

I’m gonna leave you with this one for the weekend… Privileged Service Announcement!! #PSA #FewMayKnow #WhitePrivilegeMatters  #AmericanHistory

Posted by Nate Mezmer on Thursday, July 16, 2015