Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has a habit of invoking MLK in his speeches as he attempts to bring his economic message to Americans. Time and time again we hear him tell of Dr. King’s fight for the economic security of the Men and Women that he gave his life fighting for. It’s a wonderful thing to spread that message and fight the good fight against Economic Inequality. But there is something missing from the discussion. Black People.
Let’s dig into an example, shall we? Here goes:
“This he did much more than just fight segregation and racism,” Sanders told more than 5,000 supporters at the Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta.
Sanders continued with a lengthy history lesson seemingly aimed at both the black voters he must win over to catch Hillary Rodham Clinton and the younger, white voters who dominated the raucous Fox assembly.
” Just fight racism and segregation?” Oh really? Eh, no big deal, right? To the Senator, it seems as if the fight for black liberation was just a blip on the radar; the real fight was not JUST fighting racism and segregation, but fighting the oligarchy. The nameless faceless cabal of evil that is keeping everybody down. He fails to even realize that White Supremacy is OUR oligarchy, and the fight is far far from over.
Now, do I think he does not know this? Of course not. To be inclusive to his audience and to adhere to his rigid ideology, Sanders must sanitize Dr. King from a black revolutionary, to a racial appeaser and find a way to give himself and his mostly white audience/fanbase ownership of Dr. King’s legacy.
He does it again for us here when discussing the Sanitation Strikers:
Sometimes people forget he was assassinated because he stood up with sanitation workers fighting for decent wages and decent working conditions,” Sanders said, referring to King being shot in 1968 in Memphis, where he went to support striking workers.
Sanders added that King was, at the time of his death, planning another march for the poor. “It was a march not just of African-Americans, but of Latinos, of whites, of all people in this country to march on Washington to demand fundamental changes in our national priorities,” said Sanders, who calls on the campaign trail for a “political revolution” in the U.S.
Notice anything? Those sanitation workers were not just people fighting for fair wages and working conditions. Those strikers were BLACK MEN, fighting for the same wages and working conditions as WHITE MEN. Through Erasure, he completely leaves out very important Basic historical facts in order to appeal to his base. And it is completely unnecessary and just plain wrong to do. If one is planning on invoking the legacy of a Black Revolutionary from OUR battle for liberation in America, one needs to not erase their very blackness in order to promote their ideology. In my opinion, it is things like this that preclude him from being the candidate of Black Americans as well as of his White Male dominated base. In order to appeal to them, certain things must be sanitized from history.
I will close with a link to the actual history of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike and you can read the history of those courageous black men for yourself. They said:
“I AM A MAN.”