We are only as good as we are together. We are facing one of the most important Presidential contests in my lifetime, and with it, we are deciding whether or not we will descend into chaos or rise from the ashes of the carnage of this Presidency.
More than 100 Black leaders from across the country signed an open letter to our movement today (link here), decrying racist and sexist attacks on Maurice Mitchell and Nelini Stamp of the Working Families Party. The Working Families Party this week issued an early endorsement of the Elizabeth Warren campaign. Several self-identified supporters of the Bernie Sanders campaign publicly attacked these two Black leaders, using racialized and gendered language to denigrate them, their decision, and their organization.
Politics can be an ugly game. People who feel passionately about their positions can get heated, and sometimes those attacks can get personal. Of course, who we support to lead this country is usually based in an assessment of who we believe will do the best job supporting and designing the policies and the society that will make our lives better. But if we do not work to eliminate racism and sexism and all of the other structural barriers that keep all of us from living most powerfully, none of us will win. And what’s at stake, for many of us, is bigger than one person — it is the deciding factor as to whether or not we will be able to access healthcare, whether or not we can keep our families out of cages, whether or not we can put food on the table.
When a Party issues an endorsement, particularly a Party that hones its focus on families that are struggling every day to live with dignity, it is right for those of us who care about the same things to interrogate the process. The Working Families Party is up for that task, I’m told, and will likely be engaging in these conversations and critiques for the foreseeable future.
But what we cannot do, what we must not do, is devolve into such nastiness that we wish cancer on their families, call them Uncle Toms who are dancing for slave masters, wish that they would be raped, and the like. I cannot say that we are better than that because I’ve seen the tweets. But what I know is that we who long for freedom and safety and dignity and justice will not win if we cannot be distinguished from the Right.
To be clear, this is not a political attack. I haven’t endorsed anyone, and I don’t plan to until next year. I wrote this letter because I know what it is to receive hate mail and death threats, to be called a whore and a nigger and to be told that someone needs to rape me — because someone disagrees with you. It’s agonizing, it’s painful, it’s demoralizing, and it’s really fucking scary. I know that there are people at the staff level of the Sanders campaign who are horrified at the attacks being leveled against Maurice and Nelini, despite the fact that they deeply disagree and are disappointed at the result of the endorsement vote of the Working Families Party. But what we practice is as important as who we support, and if we look away from these attacks, whether they be bots or real live supporters, we are looking away from an enduring plague on American society that must be eradicated if any of the changes that Sanders, Warren, or any Presidential candidate for that matter are advocating for, are ever to come to be.