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Ken Burch

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Member since: Wed Nov 12, 2003, 06:58 AM
Number of posts: 50,254

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There was no excuse to target or try to silence bravenak-and we DO need to call out racism on DU.

(I know, I know-this references a specific poster by name-but it is important, so please do the right thing and let this thread stand).

bravenak did nothing to earn anyone's hostility or attacks. She was simply articulating the issues that were driving at least some of the AA reactions to the Sanders campaign, and she was doing so in a way that was respectful and progressive.

She is not part of an anti-Bernie cabal, nor was she a closet right-winger. She was trying her best, eloquently and with great and justified passion, to explain why some of these issues came up.

And she has a point about DU itself. We have a race problem and we haven't dealt with it.

And the collective cyber-assault that happened on her here is only the most visible symptom of that problem.

This isn't the problem of any particular political candidate or any particular campaign...it's a problem with the culture on this board, which reflects the culture of this nation

Few people here are consciously racist...I'd say almost none, actually. But there has been a problem in the way DU and a lot of Sanders supporters(and I say that as a Sanders supporter)have communicated with AA posters here.

In the name of stopping what we have perceived as an unjust attack on a particular candidate, we have committed the crime of making it sound as if we are trying to silence an entire community-again, not something that was intended, most likely, but something that was clearly perceived. And it's the perception we have created that has been the problem.

Too often, the white contingent on DU(and I think I can include myself in that on bad days)have responded to the attempts to raise the issue of police violence as if they were a deliberate attack on Bernie's campaign. While some people who raised those issues probably did do so out of cynical political interest, a lot haven't. I think all of us are actually against police violence and police terror towards the AA community, but we need to communicate this much more clearly and more actively, and, much more important, we need to listen more. We may not like what we're hearing...we may feel deeply uncomfortable at times...but what we are hearing(and we have to make it clear that we GET this)is the voice of a community who see their their friends, their spouses, their children being sent to early graves with nobody in the white community, including hardly anyone in the white progressive political community, doing anything to stop it. We are also dealing with the consequences of the decision of the Democratic Party, starting in the late 1980's making a conscious decision to put looking "tough on crime" ahead of protecting the civil rights and, indeed, the physical safety, of an entire racial community. We threw African America under the squad car, under the riot truck, and into a cell where we left it to hang. Is it any wonder that the distrust of that community runs so deep? Is it any wonder that that they won't "take our word for it"?

We can be better about that DU. We can be open to hearing what we need to hear, and we can learn to wait before firing back in anger. I know I myself can be better about that. So can the posters on this site in general.

Bernie did need to make some changes, and now he has pretty much made them. His campaign will be fine and it now looks like a better relationship with the AA community will be established. There was no conscious intent on his campaign's part to exclude AA issues or to keep AA people away from his rallies, and those issues are now part of the campaign and the face of his crowds is becoming more rainbow.

Social justice, as it was always intended to be, is being addressed and will continue to be equally addressed with economic justice in Bernie's campaign. It has been intense, but in the end, it's all good. It has shown that our candidate is responsive and capable of change and growth, of improvement in communication. It has shown that dialog can be created on this and a better message sent to all.

To those who support Bernie here on DU, I make a personal appeal:

please, please, PLEASE, for the love of God, when you see critical posts from AA posters, be tactful and aware when you respond. Do not talk down to those posters...do not lecture them...do not treat them as the enemy. If their posts are angry, accept that they are entitled to their anger about the issues involved, even if it seems to you that they are singling our candidate out. Remember that, while this may be about electing a progressive president to you, to us, to these posters, it is about whether or not their freaking kids end up being killed by a cop on the street today. We get that intellectually, but we need to show that it is REAL to us, that it is vivid to us, that it matters as much to us as if it were our own kids facing that threat. I'm not sure how we do that, but we all have to try harder and to avoid defensiveness while making the effort.

And please, if you get the chance, send a pm to bravenak thanking her for the truth she has been bringing us...making it clear that she deserves to be part of DU and that you think it was wrong that she took the flak that she took. bravenak is a human being, a person trying to live with dignity and courage in a country where too many white people want anyone who looks anything like her dead.

We can grow from this. We can change from this. We can spread healing and forge justice from this.

But we need to do the work.

Please...dig in and be part of the solution. I'll try...can you?
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