Thursday, February 11, 2016

Listening to People of Color in This Democratic Presidential Primary

As we head into the Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary, talk has finally heated up about the role of people color in this Democratic presidential primary. As I noted previously, Hillary Clinton has been working for a while now on building her firewall following the two contests in the predominantly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Some people aren't buying in. Alana Horowitz Satlin points to her twitter feed to make this assertion.
Hillary Clinton may be counting on support from black and Latino voters to score the Democratic presidential nomination, but not everyone's on board with that plan.
Lauren McCauley agrees and notes not only the support Sanders has received from Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King, but the scathing article by Michelle Alexander titled: Why Hillary Clinton Doesn't Deserve the Black Vote.

Meanwhile, Charles Blow used his column yesterday to explain why he is getting tired of hearing the following from Sanders supporters who don't understand why so many African Americans are planning to vote for Clinton.
If only black people knew more, understood better, where the candidates stood — now and over their lifetimes — they would make a better choice, the right choice.
Here is just part of Blow's response:
Tucked among all this Bernie-splaining by some supporters, it appears to me, is a not-so-subtle, not-so-innocuous savior syndrome and paternalistic patronage that I find so grossly offensive that it boggles the mind that such language should emanate from the mouths — or keyboards — of supposed progressives.
But then I am reminded that the idea that black folks are infantile and must be told what to do and what to think is not confined by ideological barriers. The ideological difference is that one side prefers punishment and the other pity, and neither is a thing in which most black folks delight.
Yes. He just said that some white progressives as well as conservatives tend to infantilize black people - just in different ways. It's something we should all note and check any inclination to do ourselves.

Blow then goes on to explain how the history of African Americans in this country has affected the lens through which they view the promises of politicians - with a quote from James Baldwin - which he summarizes this way:
History and experience have burned into the black American psyche a sort of functional pragmatism that will be hard to erase. It is a coping mechanism, a survival mechanism, and its existence doesn’t depend on others’ understanding or approval.
Personally, I find this discussion and all of these voices to be powerful. American politics will become infused with these topics in the coming years - no matter what. We can all be early adopters by listening and learning now.

4 comments:

  1. In defense of Sanders supporters, from what I've seen, they're pretty much equal opportunity annoyers when it comes to anyone who doesn't line up behind Bernie. Black or white, male or female, religious or atheist, if you don't follow Bernie it must be because you are in error.

    That said, some of what I've seen come out from Bernie's fan base has been pretty appalling. I have seen suggestions that BLM should keep their concerns to themselves because black people getting shot is less important than single payer.

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  2. It's funny how some of the same people who are concerned about black voters voting against their own interests also say that they might sit out the election if Sanders isn't the nominee. They're some of the same people who have floating the notion that there's a "liberal case" for electing a Republican: http://www.salon.com/2016/01/17/fine_give_the_gop_four_years_the_liberal_case_for_either_bernie_sanders_or_electing_a_republican_president/

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  3. oh god, I was so sick of people thinking I voted for Obama because we were both black -- as if I'm too stupid to have a nuanced criteria or opinion. We think. We breathe. We decide who we want to vote for just like everyone else does. Jeez Louise.

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    1. Well at least you have it easy; I'm a white guy, and there are so many white guy candidates to choose from, I have to decide who to vote for by which one's size and shape most closely match mine.

      Brian Dennehy 2016

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