I Don’t Understand This Activism


So here’s the beef:

“Every time race is brought up, he pivots to the economy, which obviously a lot of racial disparity comes via economic means, but some of it is just flat out racism and discrimination,” Morrow said. Sanders’s view that “if we had more jobs in Ferguson, this wouldn’t have happened, I’m not sure that is valid. I mean, Mike Brown was on his way to college. It’s not just a jobs thing.

I missed the part where Bernie Sanders said it was just a jobs thing. Sorry, I’m just not seeing it.



As always, John Cole put it much better than I ever could.


Can someone explain to me why the Black Lives Matter movement has been targeting Bernie Sanders? This is the second time that Black Lives Matter groups have shut down one of Sanders’ rallies:

Event organizers allowed the period of silence, as some in the large crowd booed and shouted for the protesters to leave the stage. Afterward, Marissa Janae Johnson, who identified herself as a leader of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Seattle, asked the crowd to “join us now in holding Bernie Sanders accountable for his actions.” She motioned for Sanders to join her at the microphone.

After several minutes of frantic conversations, Sanders left the stage and greeted people in the large crowd who had turned out to see him. Many chanted his name.

In the hours that followed, several activists took to social media to question whether Johnson was speaking for the broader Black Lives Movement.

The tense scene in Seattle was reminiscent of one July 18 in Phoenix, when a larger group of Black Lives Matter activists disrupted a Democratic presidential forum at the liberal Netroots Nation gathering that featured both Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley.

I don’t get what specific actions Sanders needs to be held accountable for. Have I missed something? Why aren’t they targeting Republican candidates? Republicans are still steeped in denial that racism even exists in America, and that police brutality unfairly targets people of color. Why pick on Sanders? He’s not in denial about systemic and structural racism in this country. He’s no Scott Walker, saying police brutality is just a matter of a few bad apples that can be corrected with “better training.”

I don’t understand a movement that seems all too ready to alienate allies.


Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, protests, racism

22 responses to “I Don’t Understand This Activism

  1. Joe

    I don’t know of any specifics, but there seems to be presently, an undercurrent in the discussion that the Democrats in general have been too quiet on these matters. Likewise, in a broader sense, there seems to be some intention of saying to the Democratic Party that they can’t take black voters for granted and just pay lip service to issues folks are facing on the ground. There is likely some element of truth to these criticisms, but the fact is, as you noted, they have no friends on the GOP side. I don’t see how this particular action at a Sanders rally helps move the cause forward, or for that matter, address the particular complaints viz the Democrats action/inaction. Certainly it doesn’t seem to speak to whatever actions Bernie Sanders should be called on.

    • Well, Democrats aren’t the ones who are passing state Voter ID laws that target people of color, the elderly and the poor. Democrats are the ones fighting those laws. Democrats aren’t the ones calling black people lazy. Democrats aren’t the ones who have tweaked every amygdala in white rural America to undermine America’s first black President by calling him foreign, Muslim, un-American, and “other.”

      Certainly there’s more EVERY American can do to end racial injustice but I don’t see how it’s productive to attack the people who are already on your side and recognize the issue as a real problem.

  2. Shutter

    “Why aren’t they targeting Republican candidates? ”

    Because Democrats won’t whip out their concealed carry penis enhancers and start shooting at them.

  3. Adrastos

    To be blunt, it’s because they know they can get away with it. I can’t take him seriously as a candidate if he allows people to push him away from the mike. He says he’ll stand up to Wall Street and the Insurance companies. How credible is that now that he let 2 people silence him and drive him from the podium.

    • I suspect you are correct. Sanders has twice given them a national platform to air their grievances, which is supremely ironic. I can’t imagine this will continue. I’m sure the reason they haven’t targeted Hillary in the same way is because they have zero access of the kind Bernie has provided.

    • He’s credible enough to have drawn 28K people in lil’ ole Portland tonight, for whatever that’s worth. I guess we’ll see. He can certainly keep pressing HRC to the left.

      • I was interested to see that the DNC is fundraising off of Bernie. I just got a fundraising email saying “we’ll fly you out to see Bernie (and other great Democrats) ….” Clearly THEY think he’s credible.

        Pretty ballsy, Bernie has never called himself a Democrat, has he? I thought he called himself a Socialist. Honestly I could be wrong about that ….

  4. The National “Black Lives Matter” folks (if they exist) need to make a statement about what happened and whether they support it.

    Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement and a UCLA alumna (according to this: http://dailybruin.com/2015/08/06/ucla-students-alums-attend-national-conference-by-black-lives-matter/) is here:


    I sent her an e-mail, others may want to do the same.

    My e-mail:

    Dear Patrisse Cullors:

    I would like to ask you if you have any light to shed on why the BLM Seattle chapter shut down Mr. Sander’s rally in Seattle. I don’t believe that he is your enemy and I am wondering what sort of things he has to “answer for”. The GOP in general and the lunatic fringe, teabaggers, ARE your enemy and it appears that similar disruptive tactics have not been used against them. I am confused about whether this is a case of misguided zealotry or if there is some other reason for what appears to be counter-productive actions on the part of your Seattle chapter.

    Either there’s been a radicalization of that chapter or the folks at the national level are not in any sort of control.

    This wouldn’t have anything to do with that white lady who tried to pass as black and subsequently resigned her position in the Seattle NAACP, would it?

  5. Went over to Balloon Juice and found this comment 106:

    “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.”

    It might help.

    • So Bernie Sanders spent an hour talking with a leader and activist in an effort to understand their movement and their grievances and then they STILL shut down his rally? What the fuck do they want? This seems very counterproductive to me.

  6. I find myself om the side of BLM for several reasons. First, when they FIRST approached Sanders and O’Malley, both responded with the ‘All Lives Matter” response — which simply showed they didn’t understand the protest. How does this response differ, in truth, from that Anatol France spoke about in his comment about ‘both the rich and the poor are forbidden from sleeping under bridges.’ (Sunday morning does not make me good at quoting or spelling, btw.)

    Seriously, this is not a minor distinction. There are few — as in zee-ro — 70 year old white men who are in danger of being shot — out of fear — by a cop. Even if I were waving a gun in many states, the cops would smile on me. But someone like ZANDAR, who is both black and relatively young — something he’s just mentioned a couple of times — could be reaching for a pen, a cop could misunderstand it, and the only reason it would get publicity (until recently) was because he was a blogger.

    “Why not go after Republicans? They’re the real enemy.” True, but if there were a gay rights demonstration happening in front of a store which was generally pro-gay but had blundered into an anti-gay action… how many of you would insist that the demonstrators should stop THAT demonstration and instead demonstrate in front of the Russian or Ugandan Embassy — because they were so worse? No, you fight the battle that is there, and twice in public, Bernie has, in effect, dissed the group, when he could have taken their slogan and made so much more of it. “Yes, Black Lives DO Matter, but not just when there is a gun pointing at them. Cuts in education, in spending on infrastructure, in refusing to enforce safety regulations may effect all races, but blacks are always the ones most hurt….” And go from there.

    Finally, I am, admittedly, getting a little tired of the Sanders campaign. I understand the idea of challenging Hillary from the left — though I insist that only works if the challenger is electable — and Bernie isn’t even, technically, a Democrat, just an independent who caucuses with them. If he isn’t electable — and America has always hated the WORD “Socialist” even when they embrace the ideas that socialists got started — then (in this way ONLY) how do the Democrats supporting Sanders differ from Republicans supporting Trump. (Horrible thought, I know, but wrong?)

    (And this isn’t one of those staged ‘differences’ we saw in 2008, when there HAD to be some difference between Hillary and Barack, so they ‘differed’ on the need for an individual mandate in their health care plans. (And it was Obama who drew the ‘oppose’ straw so he was on record denying the need for a mandate as he fought for its very necessity once he was in office.) But Bernie comes from the ‘whitest’ state in the union, he doesn’t have a strong record of specifically speaking on ‘black issues’ and needed to make a stand here instead of ducking the question.)

    Okay, fire away…

    • I know O’Mally responded, stupidly, with “all lives matter.” I don’t believe Bernie Sanders did. I could be wrong about that.

      “… but if there were a gay rights demonstration happening in front of a store which was generally pro-gay but had blundered into an anti-gay action…” When has this ever happened, though?

      And now I’m hearing from some quarters that Hillary Clinton is the one who sicced BLM on Bernie Sanders. This is what happens with divisive actions. Cracks spread.

      I’ve been very supportive of the Black Lives Matter campaign, I was heartened that the protests here in Nashville drew a multi-ethnic, multi-generational crowd. Whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, young, old all marched together for racial justice. That kind of unity has been threatened. I don’t see it being productive. How a guy who marched with MLK, rallied for school desegregation, has openly spoken about his white privilege, and campaigned for Jesse Jackson suddenly became a racist is very puzzling to me and it threatens the unity that the movement first engendered.

      It’s not my place to tell anyone how to do their activism. I really do want to know what the beef is. I really do want to understand why Bernie has been targeted. I’m not sure I understand any better now than before I asked the question.

  7. Let me say it more simply than I did above. (And please remember that I am on record as a long-time ‘Hillary hater’ going back to 2008 — and I retain my ugly memory that it was (putative) anti-Obama Hillary supporters and NOT Republicans who brought in the birther nonsense) We have a candidate, and a surprisingly good one who is taking the ‘right’ side on every important area that matters.

    And — yes, we ALWAYS, say this, and it is still usually true — this is the most important election I’ve taken part in. We have done a magnificent job of screwing up the last three Congressional elections — even though we managed not to lose to Romney despite our candidates’ retreat from Obama (see A.L. Grimes for the prime example.) We now are floundering to regain a majority in both Houses that we should have won — we should have lost in 2014 and dropped from 70 to 65 Senate seats, not lost our majority. And there are too many old SCOTUS Justices to afford to lose the Presidency — or fail to regain the Senate that has to confirm successors. The danger from global warming is too strong to keep a denier (Inhofe) as head of the Science committee, the danger to world peace and to the Middle East (both sides — I AM a secular Zionist who realizes the need for a Jewish homeland despite their actions in recent decades) to put even the sanest Republican (Kasich?) in charge of our foreign policy, and the danger to future generations because of the neglect of education and infrastructure HAS to be reversed.

    And yes, we need a candidate who knows both that Black Lives DO Matter and that we need not just stronger gun regulation but a SCOTUS who will reexamine the meaning of the Second amendment.

    We have that candidate. We should be using our time literally attacking every single piece of stupidity that procedes from republican mouths. We should be showing all America why those Republican solutions we heard between Trump belches might sound superficially sensible but are disasters in the making. We need to ne heard not just by those who agree with us but we should be trying to get through to those we dismiss as ‘close-minded idiots’ — not pandering to their idiocy but trying to get around it (as actually WORKED with GLBTQ issues) and crushing the inhabitants of the dclown car. (Btw, will we fail with 95% of Republicans? Sure. But the remaining 5% who might just be convinced to open their minds makes one hell of a large number — and one we can BUILD on.

    (Okay, not short or simple, but I needed to say it.)

  8. Jim ‘Prup’ Benton:

    From the Anatole France Quote Page:

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
    Anatole France, The Red Lily, 1894, chapter 7
    French novelist (1844 – 1924)”

    ““Why not go after Republicans? They’re the real enemy.” True, but if there were a gay rights demonstration happening in front of a store which was generally pro-gay but had blundered into an anti-gay action… how many of you would insist that the demonstrators should stop THAT demonstration and instead demonstrate in front of the Russian or Ugandan Embassy — ”

    Me. I suspect numerous other people would, as well. There have been many instances of well-intentioned people unloading their ire for the real bad guys on some hapless individual who misspoke or misinterpreted someone else’s speech or action. Protesting the lack of lock-step conformity in your own group while ignoring the same mindset in the GOP and teabaggists in particular is shortsighted and silly.

  9. Ms. Beale:

    I think you might want to have a look at this.

    I’m sending you an e-mail about something entirely different. Look for it tonight or tomorrow.

  10. Lj

    These women are not legitimate
    They attack a civil rights advocate and leave the perps alone
    They look like Rachel dilazoal wannabes with their light skin and partially blonde braids
    No real black woman treats people who stand up for their rights so disrespectfully
    They are phonies and should not be allowed to disgrace the movement

    • Well, you may be correct — I don’t know the women. BUT that attitude has completely taken over Twitter and other social media. Known progressives are now accusing each other of racism for “not Tweeting enough” about things. Today someone I follow actually said that progressives don’t think Native American lives matter because gosh, how often do we Tweet about the injustices against Native American lives? Apparently a few days after Sandra Bland a Native American died in police custody and NOBODY NOTICES SO OMG WE ARE THE RACISTS.

      Jesus fucking christ but I am sick of this bullshit.