As I watch the corporate media—I’m talking CNN and MSNBC, not FOX—play down the Bernie Sanders movement, it’s clear to me that white people with money are trying to keep white supremacy in place. The corporate media’s coverage of the Sanders campaign’s successes has been bizarre. “Flatlined at first place,” is an oddly phrased take that a cable news pundit used (is there something higher or better than first place?). Or this:
We’ve seen racism throughout the election so far. Most glaring is how white people didn’t fund the candidates of color when they were in the race at the same rates they funded white candidates. The argument that white people just didn’t like Booker, Castro or Harris doesn’t ring true when their qualifications were more than Buttigieg’s and their policies were right in line with the other white candidates and Democratic voters.
Then there’s the fact that none of the candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination were or are problem-free when it comes to racism as individuals (with the exception of maybe Julián Castro but he wasn’t all-in for Medicare for All so I’d argue even Castro supported some racist policies). Some of the current candidates support more overtly racist policies like Bloomberg and Buttigieg and Klobuchar. Even Sanders, whom I support, has a racist history of trying to be “colorblind” (which is itself racist because it dismisses people’s identities and pretends race doesn’t matter) with claims that economic injustice was something that could be addressed while putting aside “identity politics.”*
So when a candidate proposes policies that would turn our current structures on their heads—healthcare for everyone, a Green New Deal, college for everyone, housing for everyone, and more—we see an absurd response from the mainstream corporate media and their political pundits. The idea of a more caring community rather than one driven by greed and a “protect mine” mentality makes lots of white people in power freak out.
Even though I support Sanders precisely because he envisions radical changes toward a caring economy, I include myself in this group of white people freaking out. I feel in my body the anxiety of wondering if my place in society might be lost. Right now, white cis women are inherently valued, especially white professional- and owning-class cis women. What will it be like if people “like me” aren’t the most protected group?
Honestly, I welcome the anxious feelings because I know I’m finding truth. I get to then move into trusting and relying on God (other white people might use meditation or deep breathing or intellectual techniques to calm themselves) and see that radically changing the structures of our systems will save the world. Literally. It can save the world if we turn into a caring place. Following the lead of many Indigenous people when it comes to being in community with the non-human world, for example.
The fact that I’m a wayyy “left” liberal and I feel nervous about changing the racist system tells me that white people more comfortable with “moderate” options are probably fighting nerves they may not even know they have, especially in the corporate media. Almost all of the news coverage is about people’s worries about the Sanders campaign rather than the extraordinary momentum of support across all socioeconomic and racial lines. The fact that the corporate media isn’t covering the Sanders supporters who are Black and Latinx, for example, but instead are telling us about people who are worried he’s “not electable,” shows where the white-owned media’s priorities lie: They don’t want much to change. They mostly want things to stay the same. They want the same “safe” options of tepid Klobuchar or Buttigieg. Even Warren was apparently too radical for them—and it’s true she’s closer to Sanders’ vision of changing the structures of our government—so they have played up her losses and ignored her support.
People of color are supporting Sanders (and Warren, still, despite her ongoing harm of Indigenous people and losses of Black staffers in her Nevada offices). Rich and poor people of all flavors are working together to get him elected. The leadership in his campaign is full of Black and brown people of all genders. Most of all, he’s started trying to make it clear that we can’t separate racism and economic injustice. This post isn’t meant to be an advertisement for Sanders’ campaign, believe me, but as I watch the corporate media tell stories that don’t reflect the reality of his campaign I know it’s because they want to keep their power.
* Feminist Scholar Barbara Smith clarified that when she and the other women of the Combahee River Collective http://circuitous.org/scraps/combahee.html coined the phrase “identity politics” they simply meant, “Black women have a right to determine their own political agendas.” That’s it.
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