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I Would Have Booed Black Lives Matter Too

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When I was finishing college in 2010, I had a weird year. I had interned with the Heritage Foundation, where I was blessed to spend my months there around real, genuine white racists who weren't just casually racist but were saying really racist stuff like all the time, in every conversation. It opened my eyes that that was real - that real, principled racism and not just a few comments here and there was really a thing.

Then I got to see the real thing. I was attending a small state school in California and one of my final college credits was a black professor who seemed to intentionally make things difficult for me. There were all sorts of implied stuff about privilege and I got it worse than other "white" students as he layered some anti-Semitic stuff in there. I tried to deal with him and eventually just realized it was impossible. There was nothing I can do or say with this guy - he was an asshole.

It was two different flavors of ignorance and bigotry - white bigotry was informed by entitlement while black bigotry was informed by a view of everyone as a potential perpetrator. Race is a socially constructed concept so people like this are talking the same language of hate even if they think they're enemies.

I didn't get to see Bernie Sanders speak in Seattle but reports have indicated that he got stormed by a bunch of Black Lives Matter activists who started chanting as he spoke. As people booed them, which I would have done to a group that is disrupting something for no reason, they started shouting that the crowd was a bunch of "white supremacist liberals." Yes, I'm sure Sanders, a Jew, and Kshama Sawant, an East Indian, are hardcore white supremacists. I think the real supremacists were the ones who injected that word in to discourse.

Sanders was very critical of the show of force that occurred in Ferguson and of police violence as a whole - I read what he actually said as it happened:

The New York Times and other media have focused enormous attention on the tragedy in Ferguson, Mo., where an unarmed black youth was shot and killed by a police officer. Unfortunately, there has been very little discussion about the economic and social tragedy that has befallen an entire generation of young black men.
Today, more than 5.5 million young Americans have either dropped out of high school or graduated from high school and have no jobs. Today, while youth unemployment is 20 percent, African-American youth unemployment is 35 percent, and in the St. Louis area, it is even higher than that.
Incredibly, there are estimates that if present trends continue, one of every three black American men born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime.
If there is anything that we can learn from the Ferguson tragedy, it should be a recognition that we need to address the extraordinary crises facing black youths. That means, among other things, a major jobs program, job training and vastly improved educational opportunities.

I haven't read anything of his supporting police excess. The hostility he's gotten from black activists just makes me assume that he assumed he's an old white guy and ran with it. He doesn't deserve that sort of disrespect and people make a mistake by encouraging it. I highly doubt the Black Lives Matter crowd read anything Sanders wrote or said on the subject. They just knew Sanders was white and a politician and so they disrupted him because they hate racism, you know? If they really wanted to stop to police excess, they'd build coalitions.

Ultimately nonsense like that won't hurt Sanders though. His momentum is enough to deafen any uproarious crowd.


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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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