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Whenever Kanye West offers naive and infuriating racial commentary—a hallmark of his career—fans often wistfully recall the one powerful thing he ever said about race. It’s what many referenced yesterday while trying to make sense of the sight of West standing alongside our president-elect and noted bigot, Donald J. Trump. It happened in 2005 at A Concert for Hurricane Relief, the hour-long, celebrity-filled benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina victims during which West declared on live television: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

As moving a statement as it was at the time, it has long deluded people into thinking West cares more about the plight of black people than he’s ever proven to. West standing alongside a man whose political career started in earnest with questioning the legitimacy of the first black president isn’t the anomalous act—his remarks about Bush were.

Kanye getting cozy with Trump is no political about-face. This is the culmination of man who, outside of a single action more than a decade ago, has only spoken about racism when it impacts him directly. In 2014, while performing at London’s Wireless Festival, West had this to say about racism and how he’s treated as an aspiring designer: “I’m just saying, don’t discriminate against me because I’m a black man or because I’m a celebrity and tell me that I can create, but not feel. ‘Cause you know damn well there aren’t no black guys or celebrities making no Louis Vuitton nothing.”

On its face, this seems like a brave indictment of bias in the fashion industry. But look closer and it becomes clear that West is not for all; he is for self. Despite these critiques, West reportedly gave his blessing to A.P.C. founder Jean Touitou, who chose to include the word “nigga” in a fall menswear presentation. West also once donned himself with Confederate flag imagery, claiming “It’s my flag.”

And we know that West fancies Vanessa Beecroft, a woman who has used blackface in her work and once declared it was “very stressful to work with black women.” West may not find it quite as stressful, but he shares Beecroft’s habit of questionable statements about women of color—like, say, when he tweeted his casting call for “multiracial women only” for his Yeezy Season 4 fashion show.

Beecroft—like Trump, like the Grand Old Party, and like many people who dabble in racism—often use black people for cover. In an interview with W magazine, Beecroft argued: “I am protected by Kanye’s talent. I become black. I am no longer Vanessa Beecroft and I am free to do whatever I want because Kanye allows it.”

There are those who condemn racism because they genuinely want equality for all, and there are those who only do so because they want to belong. Never confuse the desire of wanting to be treated equally with the desire to enjoy the perks of white manhood. No wonder West feels a kinship with Ben Carson, whom he praised last year in an interview with Vanity Fair. “As soon as I heard [Ben] Carson speak, I tried for three weeks to get on the phone with him,” he said. “I was like, ‘This is the most brilliant guy.’”

Reminder: Carson is a black man who has likened Obamacare to slavery and, in a 2015 op-ed about Obama’s new housing rules, wrote “These government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse.” Now, as the likely next head of Department of Housing and Urban Development, Carson could very well be the black face behind a vast expansion of housing segregation. Men like Carson and West appear more than willing to align themselves with prejudiced elites for self-gain or white validation.

It’s not just the company West keeps—it’s also what he says. In the same year West was touting Carson, he referred to racism as a “dated concept.” After he voiced support of Trump’s presidency, West told concertgoers to “stop focusing on racism,” adding, “This world is racist, OK? Let’s stop being distracted to focus on that as much. It’s a fucking fact. We are in a racist country.”

Read the rest at Fusion.

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For so many reasons, Mariah Carey is a gift to the world. We love her for her high octaves (dolphins could never go as high). We appreciate her for her lyrics, which she constantly reminds us typicallymajorly come from her pen (you do what you want when you’re poppin’). We adore her for her eccentricities, like the lovably crazy, only slightly older sister that she is (“auntie” would be an abusive*—see below—term in this instance).

Yet, if there’s one other thing to cherish about the best-selling female artist of all time (Madonna may argue otherwise, but Mariah has long proven that she doesn’t care what Madonna thinks or says), it is her dedication to the advancement of quality lighting and flattering angles. Her battles against oppressive lighting are an inspiration to all of us dedicated to looking like our best selves.

You should never trust anyone else’s lighting. If not for Mariah fighting the good fight on that front, I may have never learned that important life lesson. Ever the advocate, Mariah has used her platform to speak against the ills of bad lighting for years.

In February 2014, during an appearance on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, Mariah had her people come in before the interview began in order to set up lighting that better suited her. I’ve been told personally by a Def Jam insider that once upon a time, when she was signed to the label, Mariah would do this for any meeting she had in the building, and would only take meetings in rooms where the lighting had been improved to her standard.

Moreover, Mariah would never allow anyone to ride in an elevator with her. You know, besides her lighting person, obvi. Why? As she once explained: “I have an extreme aversion to overhead lighting. In my opinion, elevator lighting is toxic!”

Who dares to disagree with the master? Some people might find such practices excessive, but I find them admirable. If self-love is the best love, anyone with the means to protect themselves from toxic lighting is the most beloved of all.

For those looking to further refine their understanding of this important issue, earlier this year, in an interview for The Sunday Times, Mariah explained what constitutes bad lighting. “I have to point out this is a rented house—I would never have overhead lighting,” the goddess noted. “High hats, they call them. In my apartment in New York, it’s all recessed lighting, chandeliers, candles. This lighting is abusive.”

And as we’ve learned on her new docu-series, Mariah’s World, it’s not just where the lighting is that matters. “I have a rule which states that I will not be seen in fluorescent lighting without sunglasses,” Mariah said, adding, “I know it’s very ’90s.” But who doesn’t love the ’90s?

The only time we’ve ever seen Mariah appear in toxic, abusive lighting was in the film Precious, an experience in which, she told Rolling Stone, “overhead lighting was not my friend.”

Read the rest at ELLE.

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Tomi Lahren, the so-called “queen of the alt-right,” has the intellectual curiosity of a dead gnat.

Regardless of what her Facebook follower count suggests, she is not at all remarkable. It has never been that difficult to sell racism to the masses––especially when it is presented in a package of thin, blonde, and White. Lahren didn’t need the help of Black men to assist her in her goal of elevating an ugly platform and poisonous rhetoric, but some needlessly lent their services anyway.

Lahren’s appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah was not the “evisceration” that many argued it to be. What people watched was Noah present reason to someone who in turn opted to stand steadfastly in her stupidity. Like the parrot she is, Lahren did nothing but evade questions and regurgitate prepared statements when challenged, all before a national television audience. Some people wanted to think she was made to look dumb because it served some cathartic need. Unfortunately, when someone is willfully obtuse, looking dumb comes with the territory, rendering whatever momentary sense of satisfaction moot.

Defending his choice to interview Lahren, Noah told CBC’s The National, “It seems fruitless to some, but … the other alternative is to stay in those bubbles that you talk about, so why not have a conversation?” During an appearance on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, he likened the interview to Collision Course, a joint album from Jay Z and Linkin Park, noting, “It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but at least you’re in the world where you are hearing the opposing view.”

What kind of Black man asks victims of racism to afford a racist the nuance she does not deserve?

Can someone tell Trevor Noah how to get off of Sesame Street? We literally have an unabashed bigot heading to the White House. Do we really need to be hearing from someone with such a facile understanding of racism in America at a pivotal moment like this?

There is nothing wrong with speaking to someone with opposing views, but to speak to someone who has made it grossly apparent of how they feel is an exercise in futility. Lahren has compared Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan, America’s oldest terrorist organization. Lahren does not simply have different views; she denies Black people their humanity and actively mocks our pain and misfortune for profit. She is a racist and a simpleton who ought to be relegated to the dumbest blocks of Facebook from whence she came. Noah appeared to have done this interview for the sake of drawing much-needed attention to the show. So be it, but don’t describe an act of desperation as one of nobility.

Still pretending life is an after school special though, Noah went on to say that “racism does not stand up well to contact,” proclaiming, “When people are in contact with someone of another race… you find that racism doesn’t hold up.”

Plantation owners seemed to do just fine with proximity and so have the countless other number of racists in present day. To wit, Noah argues, “In America, where do they hate Muslim people the most? The places where there are none.” Noah lives in New York City, where bigots are actively attacking Muslim women.

As for Charlamagne, he, too, went with that ‘let’s talk to folks of opposing views’ stance in the case of Lahren. And though he tried to clarify his comments on Twitter in which he asked why some “woke” Black or Latina woman doesn’t duplicate Lahren’s success on his radio show, he still fails to truly grapple with the privilege to which his prejudice-harboring friend enjoys.

There are plenty of educated, progressive Black women contributing to the culture by way of their prose, podcasts, and videos. Maybe Charlamagne will highlight more of them on his radio show. Those women would certainly provide more useful dialogue than the sexist, homophobic, conspiracy-theory yielding trope that is Umar Johnson. However, that doesn’t change how much easier it is for women who look like Tomi Lahren and Black men willing to attach themselves to her.

Read the rest at ESSENCE.

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Lee Daniels often espouses racial views typically heard only from characters in a Magical Negro movie. It’s one of those characteristics about the celebrated director that you like to forget in order to enjoy his art. Unfortunately, Daniels won’t cooperate with some of us in such an endeavor because he refuses to stop assuaging white fragility as if he’s literally “the Help.”

Case in point, his recent appearance on The Real, in which he had this to say about the role that racism has played in his career: “I wouldn’t be where I was if I embraced racism. If I embraced it, then it became real. And if it became real, I would be an angry black man.”

As if that weren’t a silly-enough statement, Daniels continued to confound select viewers by explaining his casting choices for his new show, Star.

The series follows a contemporary girl group in Atlanta on their rise to stardom, although the narrative is notably guided by its white protagonist. Why? Well, “because I thought that instinctively, the country needed to heal,” Daniels explained. “And I think that this white girl is so fabulous that black people will embrace her, and white people will embrace her.”

So in the era of President-elect Tangerine Mussolini, Lee Daniels believes that presenting nouveau Teena Marie on a new soap opera will end the divide in America?

Indeed, as Daniels went on to add: “I thought that it was important to address race relations in America. We are, truly, I believe, in a civil war. And I think that when we understand that we’re all one that [we will] then understand America. And America is still to be understood by us.”

What embarrassingly flawed logic. Racial harmony will not be achieved from centering the story of a girl group in a hugely populated black city on a white girl. If centering whiteness while allowing racial minorities to be in its vicinity were the key to healing the world and making it a better place for you and for me and for the entire human race, it would have happened long ago. After all, when don’t white people center themselves in stories—even when those stories have absolutely nothing to do with them? When don’t black people like Daniels go above and beyond to include white people in their stories, even when those gestures are rarely, if ever, reciprocated?

For the record, Daniels has definitely “embraced racism” when the mood suited him. Daniels is the same person who once complained about the role that racism played in his effort to find funding for The Butler. The same person who, earlier this year, took to Instagram to lament about racism in Hollywood, writing, “I hate white people writing for black people; it’s so offensive. So we go out and look specifically for African-American voices. Yes, it’s all about reverse racism!”

That’s not how racism works, although Daniels has employed the phrase “reverse racism” previously—notably when he claimed that Mo’Nique perpetuated “reverse racism,” comments that ultimately boiled down more to his belief that the Oscar-winning actress was not adept at playing the Hollywood game. Then again, Daniels has no problem throwing black women and black people collectively under the bus. He did so in a now notorious interview with Larry King in which he stereotyped black women and perpetuated myths about the “down low” and HIV/AIDS rates in our community. Daniels has repeatedly fed into the falsehood about rampant and uniquely severe homophobia purportedly relegated to the black community.

Daniels has also long talked about how racism and homophobia don’t exist in his children’s minds because they have a white dad and a black dad. Daniels criticized Mo’Nique for not playing the game, but the thing is, some of us aren’t into the kind of games Daniels plays.

Read the The Root.

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In theory, Mariah Carey, reality star, sounds nothing short of must-see television.

Long before Real Housewives came along, Carey offered the world various strains of grandiosity, eccentricity, and lots o’ theatrics. Surely someone who admittedly acknowledges living in her own bubble would be the perfect vehicle for a new reality series. However, Carey has been particular about making sure this show was not a reality series, but a “docuseries.”

Granted, some shows actually do fit the bill of “docuseries,” given they’re more documentary than soap opera. There’s a certain level of openness and authenticity required to make those work, though. Anything else would fall into what we know as reality TV, where, if nothing else, the manufactured drama we bear witness to is satisfying in its entertainment value.

As far as the premiere episode of Mariah’s World goes, it meets neither standard.

The show begins with Carey dressing up as Bianca Storm, the alter ego she played in the “Heartbreaker” video. Some lambs, her most dedicated fan base, might have seen the sight of Bianca and found the nod heartwarming. Other fans may have likely looked at Bianca and asked themselves, “Why are we back in 1999?”

Of course, the show proceeded to run down Carey’s stats as the biggest-selling female artist of all time with more No. 1s than any recording act other than the Beatles. We all knew that, but Carey will always make time to let you know who the hell she is. Not long after, Carey tells us the story of how she came to be a professional singer. As if we haven’t heard this story numerous times over the course of 20 years. And you guessed it; she also let us know that she writes on every song she’s ever recorded.

Mariah, I adore thee, but I think we’ve got it by now. That said; it is your world. Perhaps she’s not the problem so much as my expectations are? Or not.

There are some things to appreciate about the show—namely Carey’s confessional looks. Leave it to her to practically lounge in a nightgown while holding a glass of red wine. The other Carey constant is magnificent lightning. Carey probably has a better lighting crew than God, so she’d be damned if she were made to look anything less than spectacular on her show.

As for what one can learn from Mariah’s World, let’s start with the new understanding that the Kardashian sisters have stricter hiring practices for Dash than Mariah Carey does for anything. Her new manager, Stella Bulochnikov, was hired thanks to Carey’s friend, film director Brett Ratner. And based on reports, Bulochnikov cleaned house once she got that position—something Carey’s makeup artist notes on the series premiere.

On the show, Bulochnikov hires a young woman who doesn’t seem to know anything about assisting people, let alone assisting one of the biggest music artists in history. The end result is that part of the episode centered on this new assistant crying that she could not set up Carey’s Apple TV in her hotel suite, which Carey requires having on to sleep. As nice as it was to see one of the hotel staffers more or less tell that young woman to buck up, why was this on television? Who in the hell cares?

This show is supposed to be about Carey launching a tour and planning a wedding. Well, we already know now that the wedding plans end with a breakup, but production sure didn’t waste time planting the seeds for a backup story. Carey is reportedly dating dancer Bryan Tanaka and their on-screen flirtation is made apparent in the premiere. Who knows if that backup storyline was planned in advance or not, but it’s easier than ever to see Carey’s engagement was much ado about nothing, and it’s hard to believe she cares that much about what looks like nothing more than a cute homeboy.

If you’re wondering where Carey’s manager came from, as fate and opportunity would have it, she has a background mostly in reality TV, credited on the following shows: T.I. & Tiny: The Family HustleMaster P’s Family ValuesParis Hilton’s My New BFF, and Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School.

Read the rest at The Root.

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There are many reasons for anyone of conscience not to serve in the administration of our hate-mongering, habanero-hue-having president-elect.

He is a racist. He is a sexist. He is a xenophobe.

Likewise, there are plenty of reasons for a black man in particular not to want to serve in the administration of such a character.

His comments about the Central Park Five then and now; his history with housing discriminationhis very long history of making racist comments, particularly those that are anti-black; his efforts to publicly undermine the nation’s first black president by questioning his citizenship; his describing black neighborhoods and black life in America in the spirit of Mister telling Celie that she was po’, black and ugly.

Yet, for all the ample amount of evidence readily available, Robert Johnson cited a reason rooted not in principle but in loss of power.

Speaking with CNBC this week, the BET founder revealed that he had met with President-elect Donald Trump earlier this month and was offered a Cabinet position. “It was an easy discussion because I wasn’t coming there on a job interview,” Johnson explained. “He hinted at something I could be interested in, and I quickly shut that down. It was a Cabinet position.”

What prompted such a quick dip? According to Johnson, he can’t work for the government “because to me, as an entrepreneur, trying to work in a government structure where you got to go through 15 different layers of decision-making to get what you want done doesn’t fit my mold.”

So this Negro’s only real gripe with serving in the Trump administration is that he wouldn’t be able to have as much say as he’s accustomed to. Not to mention, he wouldn’t be able to make the kind of money he’s used to earning.

This line of thinking is more verbal manure than most decent people can take—except, Johnson decided to take things one step further by arguing that Minute Maid Mao was not racist.

“To me, I never thought Donald Trump, and I still don’t believe it today, was a racist. I don’t believe that he’s anti-African American,” Johnson argued. “For too long, the African-American community has been ignored by the Republicans because they thought we were always locked with the Democrats.”

To Johnson, one plus one equals a 12-pack of Sunkist, each one topped with a weird-looking wig. There’s willful ignorance and then there’s Bob Johnson on national television to claim that a man proven guilty of housing discrimination and with a lengthy track record of saying incredibly racist things for decades is not racist. The man can trot out that cliché about the Grand Old Party needing to engage more with “the blacks,” as his tangerine demagogue of a work buddy likes to call us, but the reality remains that Republicans consistently engage with us: It’s called voter suppression.

Johnson went on with his brown bag full of lies, saying that Trump is neither Democrat nor Republican. “Certainly not an establishment Republican [and] he’s not a Democrat; he was open,” Johnson said. “And he’s a business guy. And business guys tend to look at where’s the opportunity for a benefit.”

Minute Maid Mao may lack political ideology, but there is a constant that has lingered throughout his personal life, his business practices and his political ascension: bigotry.

What a pathetic sight to see: a black man saying the sole reason he won’t serve under an administration swimming in white supremacy with a minority friend here and there serving as water boy is that he doesn’t want to deal with a high chain of command. Not only that, but to go out of his way to lie about exactly what kind of man our president-elect is.

If there’s one thing to remind ourselves in the coming months and years ahead, it is that black people must know who is for us and who is not. Being black alone does not mean you are for us. Johnson is proof of that.

Read the rest at The Root.

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There are many things to love about the Ava DuVernay-helmed OWN drama, Queen Sugar.

If you are a fan of shows like Six Feet Under, seeing Black faces guide this nuanced family drama in similar fashion feels refreshing. Much like Donald Glover’s AtlantaQueen Sugar takes characters we are familiar with seeing on television, but adds the sort of complexity that for so long evaded them. Those layers have proven pivotal and what largely separates Queen Sugar from its predecessors in how it tells the tale of a Black family in this medium.

When it comes to past images of Black families on television, most have straddled the line between aspirational and accessible. For many, The Huxtables were more than just a family, but a symbol of what could be, or in the cases of some, what a family should be. Others like me may have found The Cosby Show entertaining, but not necessarily anything reflective of my worldview. So other working class shows like Roc and Thea helped fill that void, as did sitcoms such as Living SingleSister Sister, and Martin, each of which highlighted a truth many of us have come to learn over time: families are not necessarily assigned, but of our own invention.

Each of these shows spoke to a specific kind of family reflective of the time. All of them have value. Queen Sugar doesn’t deal in aspiration or accessibility, but something no less vital and urgent: authenticity.

The Cosby Show was an indirect rejection of the caricatures Ronald Reagan made of Black people, and the 1990s sitcoms more or less comic relief in the wake of President Clinton taking those caricatures and using them to further break up the Black family through mass incarceration, a show like Queen Sugar is an honest look at where many of us stand now.

Charley Bordelon has managed to achieve social mobility, but then you have her brother, Ralph Angel, who is on parole and serves as an ongoing look at recidivism as he struggles to find steady employment as a single father. So many people want to do right, but can only deal with the hand they have been dealt. Their sister, Nova Bordelon, understands this, and through her work as a journalist, highlights that for many Black people who work in media, one often has to take on the role of activist in the midst of a for-profit media world that could care less about Black people.

Together, they try to run their late father’s farm while they grapple with new forms of the institutional racism their ancestors faced. It’s no longer chains, but wealthy, greedy, corporatist White folks who love nothing more than putting racial minorities back in their perceived place.

There are less serious themes at work on the show, but they still play into the overarching theme of taking characters and making them equal parts real and palpable for viewers. When I look at Aunt Violet and her younger boyfriend Hollywood, I’m delighted to see an older Black woman get to be sexual and vibrant given how the real Hollywood is so quick to take Black women of a certain age and stick them solely within the constraints of the one-note matriarch.

Read the rest at Essence.

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It’s often difficult to resist the urge to let my eyes roll to the back of my head at peak Janet Jackson speed upon hearing the declaration that X issue is a distraction from Y, the bigger, more important matter at hand. Yes, in media, superficial stories can often be assigned more attention than their more substantive counterparts, but that sentiment is based on the unfortunate assumption that the brain cannot process multiple things at once. In the same way that many of us can walk and chew someone out at the same time, we are just as capable of juggling the ongoing horror show starring our president-elect.

When Donald Trump garnered media coverage over tweets aimed at the casts of Hamilton and Saturday Night Live last weekend, it was disappointing to see some smugly dismiss those antics as spectacle unworthy of concern. Although Trump has been known to court attention from the very New York tabloids he’s often battled with, certain truths remain: The man is thin skinned. The man is vengeful. The man has an issue with anyone he feels has wronged him—especially when done publicly.

Trump has long conflated any form of criticism or protest with persecution. There will be no pivot. There will be no miraculous arrival of maturation. It’s best to pay attention to what this could mean in the future.

Sure, Steve Bannon, a racist with a penchant for propaganda peddling, may enjoy Trump’s temper tantrums because they do steal focus from his more nefarious dealings, but that doesn’t make them any less noteworthy. Trump is an orgy of problems, and we ought to pay attention to every single one.

In this case, Trump’s pattern with criticism is overbearing in its clarity, and with the power of the presidency, soon there may be hell to pay for those who dare speak ill of him. While the casts of Hamilton or Saturday Night Live will be free from his reach, other artists may not be so lucky. Now more than ever, I worry about artists in public spaces who will be punished for displeasing President Trump.

Republicans have a long-standing history of attacking the rights of artists. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan immediately attempted to defund the National Endowment for the Arts. In response to the substantial proposed cuts in arts and humanities, Rep. Frederick W. Richmond, the Democratic chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus, told the New York Times, “Arts are crucial to the well-being of America.”

Reagan was not completely successful in those efforts, but the agency spent much of the decade battling members of the religious right, like Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan, along with legislative bigots like Jesse Helms.

In 1994 Newt Gingrich took on the NEA, branding the independent federal agency “wasteful” and “elitist.” During this same period, then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani used the Brooklyn Museum of Arts to wage a battle over public funding of the arts.

Just this year, select Georgia lawmakers took on the national exhibition “Art AIDS America” once it reached Kennesaw State University. I covered that exhibition for the Village Voice, and part of the exhibition spoke to the failure of the Reagan administration to handle the AIDS crisis, and the work of conservatives to silence awareness of it. They were bullied out of museums and barraged with threats of retribution. In response to such a hostile climate created by bullies with power, many artists had to covertly use their art to chronicle how their friends and, in many cases, themselves were dealing with the disease. Their art lent voice to those who did not garner enough attention from mainstream media.


Read the rest at The Root.

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It appears that in the aftermath of a monumental but nonetheless failed presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders remains most comfortable in the spot that made him a loser: trying to separate class and race.

Sanders has never been wrong about the damaging roles establishment politics and economics play in the lives of millions of Americans. Even so, he’s long struggled with acknowledging that focusing on class alone won’t make this country better for many who are struggling. That the revolution cannot be colorblind if it were to truly make this country better for all of the disenfranchised.

At a speech in Boston on Sunday, the Vermont senator advocated “go[ing] beyond identity politics,” declaring, “The working class of this country is being decimated — that’s why Donald Trump won. And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down.”

Yes, it has. But Sanders, like the others parading this pedestrian punditry in the aftermath of the news that most white people voted for Donald Trump, is missing the point while continuing to promote the very ideas that sunk him during the primary. He lost many potential voters of color because we know color-blind economic policies alone will not change certain realities of racism in America. They might “make America great again”, but only for people who have always had it pretty good.

In October, when asked in a New Republic profile how uncomfortable he appeared talking about race, he answered, “OK, see, this is an issue I’m not really – what I don’t want to do is get into me.” When told that it wasn’t about him per se, Sanders said, “It’s a complicated answer. It’s a good question, but I prefer not to get into it right now.”

Though Sanders did make some efforts toward minority outreach eventually, it was too late and not good enough. After all this time, that reality has still failed to reach him.

In his Boston speech, he demonstrated this blind spot yet again, when a woman in the audience asked asked Sanders how she could become the second-ever Latina senator.

“It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me,’” Sanders explained. “No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry. In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.”

Why should we pretend “identity politics” hasn’t always been America’s way – that discounting them invalidates the lived experience of the very people that opted against sending him to the general election?

When Bernie Sanders talks about the Democratic party’s failure to reach working-class white voters, he manages to somehow forget he lost to a woman who bested him partly because she spoke of the need of criminal justice reform and the overall role racism plays in America before he did.

Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton went on to lose to a demagogue who promised to restore the nation to an image that excluded Americans like me and like the woman who dreams of becoming a US senator.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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14956524_10157728692705483_4402167199728957618_nIn a concession speech that was exceptionally gracious, given the behavior of her political opponent throughout this abysmal and subsequently catastrophic election season, Hillary Clinton declared, “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”

Clinton is a consummate professional, and though she deserved a far better end to her 40-years of public service than to lose her lifelong dream to an unqualified buffoon who went into politics as a newfound hobby, it makes sense for her to make such a statement. However, for the rest of us who are not politicians and did not campaign against Trump for the presidency, we don’t need to express such sentiments. We do not owe an audacious bigot anything.

Yet the sentiment that Trump deserves a chance has since been echoed by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. In his column, Kristof asserts: “Yet, like it or not, we Americans have a new president-elect, and it’s time to buck up. I’ve seen past elections that were regarded as the end of the world—including, in many Democratic circles, the Reagan triumph of 1980—and the republic survived. This time as well, our institutions are stronger than any one man.”

America came to be at the expense of its original inhabitants and was subsequently built on the backs of African slaves. This country’s inception was rooted in thievery and bolstered by racism, so the notion that the republic will survive the election of a demagogue is a moot point. Of course America will survive in the wake of a win for bigotry; bigotry is what birthed and has long nurtured her.

As for Reagan, for all the damage he did during his time as president, black people suffered the most. And black people knew what was to come with him before he took office. The same can be said of Donald J. Trump, the man who described Mexicans as rapists, proposed bans on Muslims for no other reason than that their religion gives him the heebie-jeebies, and has already threatened to curtail the reproductive rights of women and punish those who dare break his command of their bodies—plus who has a long-standing history of treating black people terribly. We know what is to come.

Still, Kristof writes: “It was disgraceful that many Republicans eight years ago tried to make President Obama fail. That’s not the path to emulate. Today, having lost, we owe it to our nation to grit our teeth and give President-elect Trump a chance.”

Au contraire, white man. My black ass doesn’t owe Trump a damn thing. The same goes for anyone else in this country who is not white, straight and male—or, you know, a white woman who supported Trump and cares far more about preserving the privileges of being white than about any of her autonomy being stripped because of gender. Like many pundits who have been wrong this entire time, Kristof cites Trump’s lack of knowledge and experience as reasons to question the sincerity and likelihood of his building that wall he speaks of, bringing law and order to the nation (its blacks), and fulfilling other campaign promises that pleasured white nationalists in their most private places.

Trump has no ideology, but he campaigned on bigotry and has a strong record on it. Trump also has the support of Republicans in Congress, who are very much aware that their newfound control of every branch of government has a lot to do with his success. Paul Ryan has already confirmed that. They owe Trump, and he knows it.

Whoever is willing to take the risk that Trump will fail to deliver on his promises is someone who can afford to take that risk and give him the benefit of the doubt. For the rest of us, all we see is prejudice being handed power with a strong mandate.

And in unsurprising fashion, Kristoff goes on to let out this naivete molded and shaped by an inexpert understanding of racism: “Democrats are too quick to caricature Trump supporters as deplorables. Sure, some are racists or misogynists, but many are good people who had voted for Obama in the past. My rural hometown, Yamhill, Ore., is pro-Trump, and I can tell you: The voters there are not all bigoted monsters, but well-meaning people upended by economic changes such as the disappearance of good manufacturing jobs.”

That’s a charming bedtime story, but the reality is, to vote for Barack Obama does not mean you cannot be racist. Racists have lain down with those they hate, and the second they pull their pants up, they’re right back to putting those they view as less than back in their place. A vote is nothing.

If you voted for a racist candidate, you are either an unabashed racist or you are complicit in racism. The latter makes you racist—just at a different level.

Read the rest at The Root.

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