May 27, 2016


The Racist Side of Bernie Sanders Supporters (Kelli Goff, 5/27/16, Daily Beast)

While high-profile Republicans step forward to denounce one of their own and to argue that minorities should be treated with courtesy and respect, plenty of white progressives seem intent on putting us in our place, so to speak, and keeping us there. Though much of the media coverage of so-called "Bernie Bros" --overzealous, predominantly white, young and male Sanders supporters--has focused on their treatment of female journalists online, their lack of respect for racial and ethnic minorities who deign to challenge Sanders has been perhaps more chilling.

The Washington Post noted that at one point #MississippiBerning became a hashtag used by Sanders supporters on social media--a witty and clever turn of phrase unless of course you are a black American who hears the words "Mississippi burning" and immediately thinks of church bombings and lynchings.

Black writers and activists who have had the temerity to challenge Sanders's record have been targeted by his supporters in ways that go against not just civility but even decency. I should know. I'm one of them. [...]

So when news broke that a prominent white, male liberal blogger known for his appreciation of Sanders and disdain for Hillary Clinton had called Neera Tanden, one of the most prominent women of color in progressive politics a "scumbag" I was not surprised.

And when I learned Sanders supporters had sent death threats to a female Democratic Party official because they were outraged at what occurred at the Nevada state convention, I was not surprised. And when Bernie Sanders declined to denounce such behavior vigorously, I was also not surprised.

Just as Donald Trump's supporters would not demonstrate thuggish behavior, such as assaulting protesters, without getting signals from their leader that it's acceptable, the same is true of Sanders' supporters.

One difference is that Republicans haven't spent decades selling themselves as the saviors of Black Americans or any Americans of color, frankly. The fact that a sizable number of prominent Republicans are willing to lose this election in the name of racial and religious tolerance is actually a jarring contrast to the increasing number of Sanders voters who argue they are willing to forfeit an election to a man many of them consider a racist and xenophobe, one who they know will harm minorities, rather than ever vote for his opponent, a woman they don't like but who is not Donald Trump.

I have a feeling that whatever the outcome of this election, more minorities have come to realize over the course of this primary season that the word "progressive" is not synonymous with "tolerant." 

Posted by at May 27, 2016 6:12 PM