Bernie Sanders, Black Lives Matter and the racial divide in Seattle

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders walked away from the microphone as activists Mara Jacqueline Willaford and Marissa Johnson disrupted a rally at Westlake Center on Saturday where he was schedule to speak about Social Security. (Photo by Alex Garland)
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders walked away from the microphone as activists Mara Jacqueline Willaford and Marissa Johnson disrupted a rally at Westlake Center on Saturday where he was scheduled to speak about Social Security. (Photo by Alex Garland)

On Saturday, Bernie Sanders came to Seattle for a fundraiser and rally. At the rally at Westlake Park to celebrate the 80th birthday of Social Security, two Black Lives Matter protesters took the stage, and the microphone, and demanded to be heard. Their disruption led to boos from the crowd and some calls for their arrest, as well as the end of the rally.

For the rest of the afternoon and evening, social media was in an uproar over the actions of these two women. Many stated that the women were just hurting the #BLM cause, others wondered why Sanders was targeted and not other candidates. Some claimed that the women were plants paid by the Clinton campaign to stir up trouble.

The reaction to these protesters shed light on the hidden Seattle that most black people know well — the Seattle that prefers politeness to true progress, the Seattle that is more offended by raised voices than by systemic oppression, the Seattle that prioritizes the comfort of middle-class white liberals over justice for people of color.

Many black people in Seattle have long felt the racial divide that the city tries so hard to ignore. Regardless of whether or not you think that the protests could have been carried out differently, the local reaction to them shows why they are so very necessary.

Why target Bernie Sanders?

There a couple of very likely reasons why Sanders is getting the most vocal protests right now. He’s the most accessible, and the candidate who claims to be listening. Even in his response to the protesters he said “on criminal-justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me.” If that’s the claim that he’s making, then he should welcome the words of black people.

But this event wasn’t about Black Lives Matter.

People are dying in the streets. 1 in 3 black men born today will likely see prison. For us, everything is about Black Lives Matter.

Disruption and riots aren’t how you accomplish change.

How do you think change has been accomplished throughout history? What do you think the Boston Tea Party was? What about the Montgomery Bus Boycott? Even looking at the changes in Ferguson this past year you can see that disruption can lead to change. If saying “please” and waiting patiently led to change, we’d have seen it a long time ago.

You’re turning away people who would support your cause.

Really? Two protesters got on stage and interrupted your chance to hear a candidate speak and now you don’t believe in racial justice and ending police brutality? Sounds like you didn’t really believe in it to begin with. You don’t have to like people to believe in equality. You don’t have to approve of someone’s methods in order to support racial justice. You either believe in equality and justice or you don’t. There aren’t preconditions on this.

But Bernie is your best chance for progress. If you don’t support him, someone worse will win.

Black people have been held hostage by this threat for decades. But we have a black man in the white house right now and we still have black blood running in the streets, the school to prison pipeline is still going strong, and white people still have 13 times the wealth of black people. Staying quiet and hoping for some trickle-down progressivism to make its way down to us hasn’t worked out too well for us.

But Bernie Sanders marched with MLK.

And that is commendable, but we are talking about people who are dying right now. And we want what is happening today to be addressed by those in power. Consistently bringing that up in defense for lack of action on fighting racial inequality and police brutality as a senator just makes you sound like you’re asking for a free pass to inaction today. If you want to be in power now, you need to be addressing what is happening now.

I don’t think these were official Black Lives Matter people.

What does official Black Lives Matter look like? Black people who think that black lives matter seem pretty official to me.

How come nobody is protesting Hillary?

I don’t know what circles you are hanging out in, but I’ve seen a LOT of criticism of Hillary — along with criticisms of the reforms her husband put in place that black people are still suffering from today. But the amount of security that she has at her events makes her much less accessible.

Aren’t racist conservatives the real enemy?

The real enemy is the system of racial inequality and white supremacy. There is no political party and no politician exempt from that. Liberal politicians have been banking on our vote for decades but black people in America have fared no better with Democrats than Republicans. Conservatives don’t even pretend to care. We’ll go where we feel we can make the most impact, and if that means that some Democrats are uncomfortable while Republicans sit wallowing in racial hatred – well, that’s just how it is for now. This system isn’t held up by conservatives alone.

Aren’t these protests divisive?

The divide is already there. The divide lies in the fear, sadness and frustration that black people in America feel every day that white people will never know. The divide lies in the silence around that and the constant pressure to “wait your turn.” Shining light on that divide is the only thing that can close it.

Mara Jacqueline Willaford weeps during a moment of silence for Mike Brown, killed by police last year in Ferguson, Missouri. (Photo by Alex Garland)
Mara Jacqueline Willaford weeps during a moment of silence for Mike Brown, killed by police last year in Ferguson, Missouri. (Photo by Alex Garland)

Seattle had a chance to shed its false politeness and show solidarity with black lives. Seattle had a chance to set its comfort aside and listen to what these women had to say. Bernie Sanders had a chance to do the same. But Seattle jeered and Bernie Sanders simply stated that he was “disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands.”

Black people in America are fighting for their lives. These protests aren’t just about an election, these protests are about a voice — a voice will no longer be silenced. There will be more protests and more disruptions, and they will happen with more candidates. But this is bigger than the next four years. This is bigger than politics. It may make some people uncomfortable, it may make some people angry — and if it does, you should ask yourself, why weren’t you angry already?


  1. many of us listened (and stood in silence, in solidarity, and challenged other whites who were making it plain they were not ‘like minded’)…. and many of us would have liked to listen to Sanders’ response to what these two young women did and said….

    unfortunately, these young women didn’t give him a chance to respond; they wanted to hold him accountable, but they didn’t give him a respond – last time i looked, holding people accountable was a two-way street, with dialogue occurring; and respond he would have had to do, right? what other choice would he have had? and who knows what he might have said, what stance he might have made a campaign platform…

    but no….. amazing opportunity to get major public support for the cause, to pull in hundreds and thousands of people into the movement, and they fluffed it….


    1. That’s where I’m at, too. Not the way to create dialogue. This was a rally that began getting organized for *social security* and *medicaid/medicare* over six months ago. Blacks people spoke. Other people of color spoke — one of them a notable local politician running for re-election — and no one else got interrupted.

      It was preaching to the choir behavior, while offending the choir. We complain about anarchist co-opting events, making ‘the point’ of various moments misconstrued, and this was analogous.

      A lot of social movements can’t be polite. Ok, I get it. Finding better, more effective ways to make one’s point, get voices heard: we all have to work on this.

      Grandstanding is not dialogue, and what we’ve really lost in this country is dialogue. We used to have point/counterpoint on nearly all major newspapers, and on a lot of news/current event programming. We used to respectfully demur and disagree. Figuring out how to make space for this again is part of the issue, to me.

      Having non sequitur experiences like what has happened twice to Sanders rallies just comes off as counterproductive to me. I don’t know what the goal is. Is it to get Sanders to talk about race issues, or do so more? Is it to keep the pain of a significant amount of the population up front and under stage lights? Is it to shut down events? Is it to isolate and polarize? How is the goal, whatever it is, being approached, and what is working, here? We’re basically asking the ‘what do they want?’ question that so many of us found so useless and offensive during Occupy. But, the BLM movement is coming off just as infantile as major parts of the population felt Occupy was in 2011.

      Sanders isn’t touching foreign policy in his rallies, either, but no one is grabbing his mike over that one, either.

      1. Sanders actually spoke about the need to ratify the agreement with Iran in Portland.

        I went there to attend the rally, but also hoped to get out a reminder message about the need for nuclear disarmament. I’d wanted to manufacture one or more tee shirts memorializingNagasaki, and to wear and perhaps distribute some, but the logistics made it impossible. It was the 70th anniversary of the bombing. I did leave some fliers on the registration table.

      2. Sanders actually spoke about the need to ratify the agreement with Iran in Portland.

        I went there to attend the rally, but also hoped to get out a reminder message about the need for nuclear disarmament. I’d wanted to manufacture one or more tee shirts memorializing Nagasaki, and to wear and perhaps distribute some, but the logistics made it impossible. It was the 70th anniversary of the bombing. I did leave some fliers on the registration table.

      1. he went and spoke to 15,000 people later that night, if politicians stopped and listened to every single person who has a problem they wouldn’t get anything done. He was disrespected and respectfully got out of the way he handled it perfectly.

      2. I agree. Hillary didn’t even let them enter because of how they did Bernie. Good for her. She did them a favor by not letting them make asses of themselves like they did in Seattle with Bernie. Tough angry stereotype black bitches is not what BLM movement needs. Taking their hate out on the Left just because they are more accessible is inexcusable. MLK would rebuke their behavior in Seattle.

        1. Totally agree with your comments! And for the record, BLM in Seattle targeted Sanders twice. Two major difference in civil rights movement of 60’s, spearheaded by MLK and now is 60’s was organized and committed to Gandhi principles of peace; and the goal was a ‘color blind society’ – and equality. I’ve looked at profiles of many involved with BLM (on social media) and they’re not fighting for ‘equality’ but SUPREMACY. They don’t hate what has occurred, they hate ‘whites’ – all ‘whites.’ Note I didn’t say ALL of those involved with BLM – I said some. It gives me further pause about BLM that they don’t respond to those attitudes of their ‘members.’

    2. Well, this got more national headlines than peaceful discussion – same as the riots did. So the rally may have been screwed (everyone knows what Bernie is going to say anyway), but this promoted the national discussion that has been fading into the latter pages of the news cycle – just like always happens and then nothing changes and black lives continue to be significantly harder than white lives.

  2. If it weren’t for Mr. Browns bad choices like robbing a grocery store and walking in the middle of the street and confronting a law enforcement officer none of this would have happened. BLM lacks credibility.

    1. That walking down the middle of the street behavior is for safety in some bad neighborhoods, it’s not hooliganism:
      See 17:00-18:00.
      Also, if you can’t apprehend a criminal as an officer, you call for backup. You can’t put down a strong mentally-ill person just because you can’t cuff them. Suggesting that Darren Wilson was within his rights to shoot an unarmed teenager behaving badly or on suspicion of criminal behavior lacks credibility.

      1. Of course he was within his rights to defend himself since the “kid” (bigger & perhaps stronger than the law enforcement officer) assaulted him and tried to grab the officers firearm. What do you think happens when you do that?

        It’s a shame that #BLM focuses on Michael Brown, who assaulted an officer and was killed in self defence, instead of the many other cases where actual injustice & unjust violence happened to black citizens.

        1. Indeed – Michael Brown was an offense to civilian life in Ferguson – already having assaulted a store worker earlier that day while in the process of robbing that store. And we’ve all seen videos of Brown assaulting an elderly neighbor. He reached into the police car, and got shot for it. There was no injustice there.
          It begs the bigger questions however of the role of police in Ferguson and a thousand towns just like Ferguson and of the gross race and class inequalities of our society. Race-based killings and harassment of blacks happens every day. Michael Brown’s death, in and of itself – cannot be the poster child of the movement of how much black lives matter.

        2. Except you have no evidence that’s what happens, you’re simply taking Wilson’s word for it unquestionably. He had no injuries and there is no evidence he tried to take Wilson’s gun, only that Wilson shot him in the hand at close range. Even if what you said is true, that doesn’t explain the shots outside of the car that you conveniently skipped over. Wilson admitted to shooting at a fleeing Brown, which is ILLEGAL, then shot at Brown again as he probably walked towards him slowly (the audio of the shooting was captured unwittingly and the second volley of shots lasted 6-7 seconds, during which Brown only moved forward 20-25 ft, definitely not a charge through a hail of bullets). Also, the full video shows that
          Brown paid money to the store clerk and was pushed first by the clerk after an argument (about what is unknown) and simply pushed back. The store owner denied there was a robbery or that anything was stolen and isn’t totally sure that’s even Brown in the video.

    2. I’m sorry, which of Mike Brown’s “bad choices” are capital felonies? For which one did he deserve to die in the street, or was it a trifecta? And who appointed Darryl Brown judge and jury? Also:
      Emmett Till
      Oscar Grant
      Trayvon Martin
      Eric Garner
      John Crawford
      Tamir Rice
      Freddy Gray
      Sandra Bland
      I’m sure I’m missing a few.

      1. You are missing many, no doubt. But not Michael Brown – he doesn’t belong on this list – he was reaching into the police car and it wasn’t to shake the cops hand.

        1. All the report shows was that his hand was shot at close range. You’re simply ASSUMING he was going for the gun. He could have just as easily been trying to shield himself when Wilson leveled the gun at him. You have no evidence Brown touched Wilson first, and Wilson was not even injured. Even so, that doesn’t justify what Wilson did after Brown ran from the car.

    3. Actually, Wilson had no idea that Brown had just robbed that convenience store and threatened the clerk who was much less than half his size.

    1. Possibly. She was still in high school when a Sarah Palin supporter and sometimes people change their political beliefs as they gain life experience. Although, by calling white liberals racist, she does sound a lot like Ben Carson, who has said that he doubts the Democratic nominee will be Hillary Clinton.

    2. Sarah Palin is a notorious racist and an idiot, from a much larger family of idiots, with idiot children. Her kids are criminals. Her husband’s family (save for Todd’s stepmother) have been out of control for decades.

      Marissa Johnson told the Seattle Times, this year: “I am what you would classify as someone who is a brown-noser, well-to-do, has always really respected authority,” she said, adding that she has “a certain education” and lives “in certain kinds of neighborhoods.” Johnson, said Monday night that she is a devout evangelical Christian who had supported Sarah Palin in high school, and told Elon James White and Imani Gandi of This Week in Blackness, that she doesn’t “give a fuck” if her strident interruption of a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle has hurt her cause in the eyes of white people.

      While having visible support at these events, Johnson has not been embraced by everyone in the Black Lives Matters movement. Mohawk Kuzma, a local activist who has acted as a de facto spokesman at some Black Lives Matter protests, said Monday he knew Johnson from past activism but that she generally didn’t get involved “unless it’s a public stunt.”

      We only have her word for it that Mara is no longer a Palin supporter..not a “voter” (she wouldn’t have been old enough to vote for her in 2008, but a “supporter”).

      The real question is, is she merely a self-aggrandizing loudmouth, or is she and agent provocateur?

  3. Very little of what you wrote addressed the questions. You pose questions, then just go off on important topics, but since they didn’t address the questions, they sounded like nonsense. Sounds like you’re blowing smoke because you know that what they’re doing doesn’t make any sense. Someone really needs to come up with real reasons for them to continue to harass him so that we can sympathize.

  4. If you watch how they jumped on stage and how they got in the face of a person who almost immediately was going to give them a chance to speak. The poor guy that had to deal with them. He was saying “we are going to let you speak” over and over again, with them screaming back “No, let us speak”. It was frustrating watching that, because they were being given what they wanted, they could have at least shown some gratitude for allowing them to jump into a very perfectly planned. you can see Bernie came over and wanted to reason with her and gave up. He had another speech to get to, he probably didn’t have time to deal with this. and yes I still stand by what they did at counter productive. Let’s see what happens when they try this at an actual white supremacy rally, instead of just calling a bunch of normal people on the street white supremists. also of course I will still fight for their cause, because I believe we have a serious amount of injustice going on in the country, but I’m not going to work with people attacking people who don’t deserve it. I’ll meet them on the front lines, not at the team dinner. So they just devided the effort. You say that it goes beyond political parties. THAN GO TRY IT AT A REPUBLICAN RALLY, and just see what happens. I have never seen a successful take over of a mic like that, and it was basically only because the crowds aren’t racists, if they were, these people would be in jail right now, or worse.

    1. Exactly. It’s not that they protested. It’s how they protested. They were in a crowd of probably pretty like minded people but they immediately started throwing racial labels and insults.
      Who wouldn’t be shocked at an event being interrupted that way. Just because people didn’t fall into immediate line with the BLM protestors didn’t mean they’re racist or even against the movement. It meant that in that moment people were’t prepared to be told what to do by two angry, rude strangers.
      The BLM movement needs more mature leaders. Or at least to learn from this. Black lives matter. Our system is beyond fucked. We agree with you. But what do we do? What can we do. Give us some direction instead of creating hostility.

  5. Not buying the explanations in this article. Some truth but it doesn’t justify what these two women did. I support the BLM movement but NOT this counter productive nonsense. If this keeps happening it will damage the movement.

  6. I think the possibility that these women were paid off is worth thinking about. George Soros is funding the BLM movement, so it’s not exactly hard to believe. Even the dumbest activists wouldn’t think this was good strategy for their cause. You can find video of Sanders from as recently as May supporting all the issues that BLM fights for: the end of prisons as black-people-labour camps, making police accountable for their actions, and making police wear body cameras. There is no logical reason for these protesters to do what they are doing

  7. I recognize and echo the passion, but the strategy is lacking. Asked about protesting Hillary, you say there’s plenty of criticism, but shy away from the answering it head on, demurring, “the amount of security that she has at her events makes her much less accessible.”

    Not an excuse. That’s why you need to plan, organize and make that *less* secure from interruption. The system only changes if *everyone* feels the pressure. Disrupting events because they lack security and possess a yielding nature comparable to a child’s lemonade stand will only end in commensurate results.

    You said, “If saying please and waiting patiently led to change, we’d have seen it a long time ago.”

    Indeed. And targeting agents of change because of a security differential, thereby assuring the victory of champions of the status quo will get you… …what, precisely? Do you see no irony here in a systemically disadvantaged population focusing their attacks on a candidate whose stances in the present election/donor system leave them systemically disadvantaged?

    Also, per the “Outside Agitators 206,” what justice system reforms would be adequate to quell a group that seems to reject the notion of police?

  8. What a rubbish! The civil rights leaders like Rosa Parks and MLK didn’t call all white people supremacists and didn’t constantly whine about white privilege. They fought with respect and dignity, and instead of fighting against white people, they fought for all people. These two women are nothing but bullies who will pull the racist card whenever someone disagrees with them. You can’t have a rational discourse with people like that, and if you can’t have a rational discourse, you’re just fueling the status quo.

    1. “I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

      – Martin Luther King Jr.

      1. I’m not at all surprised MLK felt this way. He didn’t however, scream it. He didn’t refuse to dialogue with white moderates. In other words he had every intention of working with them no matter how frustrating they were. BLM may very well be the next generation to take social justice to the next level. Then again, maybe not if they scream and holler at their allies while expecting the checks to roll in.

      2. MLK wouldn’t have acted in this way. I dislike the insinuation that if we disagree with these women’s actions were part of the ‘white moderate’ referred to in this quote.

        1. Yawnnnnnn! it is so irrelevant what MLK wouldn’t have done or said. Why are these “saints” always dredged up as the standard for Black behavior. No one should be so presumptuous to presume she knows what MLK would do, especially when many people trotted out Jesus Christ would not do this or say that to MLK while he lived. Read MLK’s letter from the Birmingham jail tot he white clergy. Learn the history you so casually misappropriate.

      3. he went and spoke to 15,000 people later that night, if politicians stopped and listened to every single person who has a problem they wouldn’t get anything done. He was disrespected and respectfully got out of the way he handled it perfectly.

      4. MLK wrote a crafty letter, these girls LOST sympathizers. If you were a white liberal and someone told you you’re a white supremacist just because you didn’t want them to interrupt you as a speaker. What good does that do?

        White people don’t like to be called racist, we all know that especially the ones who really are. But calling a white person who supports you a racist is just stupid.

      5. The means of protest carries with it an implicit method. Sitting at a segregated lunch counter, boycotting a bus service that makes black people sit in the back, marching to Selma… these things say “I’m a person too and I demand to be treated like one.” Rushing the stage and grabbing the Mic out of Bernie Sanders hands says “F— You, Bernie Sanders, I’m special and screw all y’all in the audience too” The “moderates” MLK was writing about disagreed with his peaceful methods because racist whites would over react and initiate violence. But these two women were not using peaceful methods of protest.

      6. When did Dr King rush a stage and force a speaker to stop talking? When did he recommend that tactic?Dates and locations, please.

    2. The problem with your philosophy is that Rosa and Martin fought so that our children could live free in an America that gave us all that promise inherently.

  9. They really blew it. They disappointed so many people who had come to see Bernie, people who were already allies but are now angry and disappointed with this group.

  10. Oh, because some of us condemn these two women’s actions we are now not against racial justice and ending police brutality?

    Not sure how you arrived at the conclusion. But it’s wrong. Some of us just have doubts about BlackLivesMatter now.

    Furthermore, as others are mentioning, Marissa insulted the crowd. She called them racists because they booed her and called for Bernie after she and her friend stormed the stage. Is that how one curries favor and wins friends. I think not.

    From Marissa’s press release: “You are either fighting continuously and measurably to protect Black life in America, or you are a part of the white supremacist system that we will tear down in the liberation of our people.”

    And she deems Bernie Sanders part of the problem, apparently.

    I appreciate many of the sentiments in this article. But the logic is tortured.

    1. Some people seem to think that just because they name their movement something nice-sounding like “Black Lives Matter” or “Justice and Equality Party” or “People’s Democratic Republic of Korea” then anyone who opposes them must be bad.

  11. This is so, so, dumb. Even the most progressive progressives are starting to realize what a joke BLM and identity politics are. A bunch of useful idiots taking money from billionaires to make sure Hillary takes the White House.

  12. While I don’t agree with the writer’s points, I am happy she’s not threatening violence as she does on her Facebook page if things don’t change.

  13. I’m sorry, but Hold Bernie accountable for what? Being a tireless crusader for the victims of the oligarchy?

    I guess we should take this as a step forward- I guess being a self centered entitled asshole isn’t just for white kids any more.

    Planning on storming the stage on some breast cancer fundraisers next?

      1. I got that immediately; that it is black-anti-Jewish racism. I saw a bum activist on MSNBC and this angry young man expressed as much on national television, except for the exact words. In fact, this man got so close that MSNBC cut him off… (the msnbc host was black) so, yes… If you’ve lived long enough in this country you’ll understand well that Blacks do harbor I’ll feelings for white Jewish Americans.

  14. It’s interesting to see the comments when the author of the post isn’t permitted to delete every idea or thought that flies in conflict with her own. Glad to see there’s some sanity left in Seattle.
    All they’re going to do with this progressive infighting is ensure a republican gets into the White House. Seattle has become a nationwide joke thanks to this ridiculousness.

  15. How about a companion piece to this about how things could have gone and what supporters of Sanders can do to help? Let’s stop complaining about people who are trying to support the effort and instead focus on practical and effective steps to try.

  16. I have to agree. Logic is not this writers strong point. If she had bothered to listen to bernie than she would have heard him argue against the war on drugs and the corporate ownership of prisons which is the number one and number two reasons so many people of color are in prison. he would have heard him speak out against the militarization of the police. another reason. She would have heard him talk about passing legislation to make all public colleges free thus letting every kid no that if they stay in school they have a chance at a better life. Yes many of his ideas will help everyone not just people of color but things like rebuilding Americas infrastructure on a massive level will create millions of jobs. She acts like many of the people who are upset are just angry white people when many people of color think that two sisters shot their cause in the foot. Not to mention all the people who wonder if this was a case of Black Lives Matter or a case of My black life matters more than other black lives. In which case who paid them. As for we attack Bernie because he is easy to get to. What a joke. Work a little harder. Confront Hillary if she did not pay you. Confront the DNC confront Barack (he has spent 8 years being a corporate lap dog while things have gotten worse) and by all means confront the republicans. Then maybe you will regain credibility. Trying to spin this as a positive instead of what it was is just stupid. No one is buying it.

  17. It was sad to see. Bernie is a man who has done all that he can to make all men and women equal. He handled it well. The two women did not respect that. All lives matter. Black, White, or whatever the tone of skin you are born with. We ALL bleed red blood.

  18. What exactly is your point? You criticize Mr. Sanders, yet what congressman has spoken out in your interests more? Not one. You are obnoxious and pathetic. i hope your attack dog bullies are arrested the next time they pull a stunt like that. You are clueless attention-seeking spoiled brats, nothing more.

  19. What a bunch of useless and fake analysis…How do you know that Bernie Sanders wasn’t going to address racial inequality?…There are many issues that are just as important to his potential constituents including black lives…this was useless selfish act…in fact, they were cowards taking advantage of a situation where a candidate was taking his message to the people…Go ahead, vote for someone else…the black community won’t have a chance of any progress in the issues they consider most important…and they will deserve who they get…

  20. Why target Bernie Sanders?

    There a couple of very likely reasons why Sanders is getting the most vocal protests right now. He’s the most accessible, and the candidate who claims to be listening.

    What about the CURRENT President that doesn’t have to win another election, and is concerned about legacy, and has only recently given attention to issues of racial justice? Why not try to move his hand as well, as he is the one CURRENTLY with the power.

    The arguments about security are bogus, he has been interrupted plenty of times. Hillary simply isn’t doing very large events yet.

    But this event wasn’t about Black Lives Matter.
    For us, everything is about Black Lives Matter.

    mmmm careful. Though its different your going down the path of #AllLivesMatter. You will be called a hypocrite if you make other others listen to you, but you will not listen to them, and give respect to their issue. Old people matter too, and there are plenty of old people, Black, White, etc. that depend on SSA and its being threatened. Also, SSA is not enough – find a way to integrate this into the message.

    Disruption and riots isn’t how you accomplish change.

    How do you think change has been accomplished throughout history? What do you think the Boston Tea Party was? What about the Montgomery Bus Boycott? Even looking at the changes in Ferguson this past year you can see that disruption can lead to change. If saying please and waiting patiently led to change, we’d have seen it a long time ago.

    eh… Those are not good examples. Give me some good examples of an organization that organized actions against potential allies before they saw that that ally was unwilling to do anything? I have been organizing for some years now, and this is not usually the best tactic… It can be used, but its a dangerous one as it may hurt in the long run because we will get Hillary and her neo-liberal policies that will hurt people of color and poor people.

    You’re turning away people who would support your cause.


    Totally agree with you on this. If you suppose a cause, you support it. Period. I don’t agree with the tactics though.

    But Bernie is your best chance for progress. If you don’t support him, someone worse will win.
    Black people have been held hostage by this threat for decades. But we have a black man in the white house right now and we still have black blood running in the streets, the school to prison pipeline is still going strong, and white people still have 13 times the wealth of black people. Staying quiet and hoping for some trickle-down progressivism to make its way down to us hasn’t worked out too well for us.

    Ok… and doing actions on Bernie does what exactly? Convince me, really. I do want to be convinced, but I don’t see the connection. So many different actions can be taken, some should be taken as I previously mentioned, on our current President. I don’t see the connection between doing actions on Bernie, a primary candidate for president, and progress for black people.

    But Bernie Sanders marched with MLK.
    And we want what is happening today to be addressed by those in power. Consistently bringing that up in defense for lack of action on fighting racial inequality and police brutality as a senator just makes you sound like you’re asking for a free pass to inaction today. If you want to be in power now, you need to be addressing what is happening now.
    Yes, we want it address by those IN POWER. Again there are very many in power right now that deserve some actions – how about some CEOs of these racist, violent companies? How about some Congress people? Mayors of cities with racist police? Again, not making the connection between actions on Bernie and progress for Black people.

    How come nobody is protesting Hillary?
    But the amount of security that she has at her events makes her much less accessible.
    Who is your informant to tell you that the security makes her events less accessible? I am actually interested in this if this is true, because largely it seems that she has not had many large events.

    Aren’t racist conservatives the real enemy?
    Yes, the whole system is the enemy. Amen. But I will say it again I don’t make the connection between actions on Bernie = progress for Black people. Perhaps these are the only actions getting the most attention, but I live in Chicago and I have yet to see a #BLM action on our mayor. There are some actions on the police….

    I am just concerned about the consequences of actions on Bernie. I think there could be a more collaborative way to move him to speak more directly to the violence on Black people, move to to create space for Black people. If he refuses to meet, then you step-it-up, but Full-on Confrontation tactics are not always the most effective, because it alienates potential allies and will can cause major set backs and can hurt the broader cause. I think there is a potential strategy to engage someone like Bernie and move him, and get him to be the candidate and acting do something good for Black people more so than Hillary…

  21. The intentions may have been well-founded, but the execution was severely lacking. The author seems to take the reaction of Bernie and Robbie (the MC) as a personal attack on BLM. It was not. If anyone from any cause – Palestine, NRA, Cecil the Lion – jumped on stage and demanded to take over the mic for several minutes the result would have been the same, or even less accommodating.

    Another poster mentioned that thanks to progressives running this even who are believe black lives matter there were no serious consequences to these two women taking over the stage. Even after being called white supremacists by those who given time to speak.

    I still support the BLM movement, but I would never advocate for this sort of action. It’s quite counterproductive. And it’s not only based on race; plenty of white candidates and movements have fallen by the wayside for doing things that make them look less than legitimate. Please don’t follow in those footsteps.

  22. I disagree strongly with this article. I supported BLM and am furious about the perpetual violent murderous attacks against black men and women in this country. However, the divisive and bigoted actions of these two young people are not to be defended but rather denounced. Politeness etc are not the issue at hand here at all. This action targeting the most sympathetic candidate lacked any sort of logic aimed at achieving their goals. I’ve been involved in direct action and protest since my college days and have never seen a more ignorant action (unless of course the conspiracy theorists are right as to who is behind this.) Sadly, the response from national BLM leaders, black Twitter, and folks like yourself let me know that if I see “Black lives matter” from here on out, I will know this is a group that sees all of us whites as “white supremacists” and “racists” and do not want allies. I will avoid any events they hold as a result.

  23. So lame. The take away then is: We can do whatever we want and y’all just have to agree. Bull. Brown guy here, made victim to kops numerous times, and this did nothing to further the cause. I can support the movement but I have every right to express what I know and what I know is this did nothing to advance the cause. I support the movement but I don’t support every tactic any old yahoo comes up with.

  24. Get it together, hold people accountable, and take the longview. A glance at any comment thread will tell you if this tactic has done good. Spoiler, it hasn’t. Only overly academic activists agree with this. Regular folk, black and white, disagree with the tactic, and are feeling the divide. Meanwhile those with their noses in “revolutionary” literature are feeling all high and mighty. Why? Cuz it wasn’t about pragmatic advance so much as it was about themselves.

  25. This was not a matter of seattle not agreeing with the cause, the booing and lack of support for those two women was entirely a result of the fact that the crowed had waited in the hot sun, watched many speakers, and was excited to hear their candidate speak. These two women conducted themselves in a manner that was entirely unacceptable. I do not care what validity their movement, or the points they were trying to make have, what they did was disrespectful to someone who really does support their cause and spoke to that later in the day at a larger rally he had at the UW basketball stadium (I think it was there).

    They were actually offered a chance to speak following Bernie Sanders after they went up there, and denied it while screaming in the faces of the organizers trying to be polite to them. The shouted at them that they were being completely reasonable as they obviously were not.

    These women angered a crowd not because seattle does not think black lives matter, but rather because what they did was not the time or the place for their actions.

    This article talks about the validity of the black lives matter movement and provides numbers and rationale, and, you know what? I agree. Race is a major issue in america, and the sytematical racism that we claim to have wiped out with the civil rights movement is still there and still as big a problem as ever.

    My problem with this article and those two women is that the article does not say why it needed to be then, and does not justify the disrespect and lack of class with which these women acted.

    The issue is pressing, the issue needs to be addressed, but it cannot be the only thing. There are hundreds of issues with this country that need to be addressed in this presidential race, and grandstanding a man fighting for change in order to rudely keep pressing about one cause is simply not the way to conduct oneself in the world we live in.

    That is my rant.

    These are my ramblings.

    Feel free to disagree, because everyone is entitled to their own thoughts.

    Thank you.

  26. It was the riots in Birmingham, AL that forced the business owners there to desegregate. Keep on pushing against equality, eventually they will push back.

  27. “the Seattle that prefers politeness to true progress, the Seattle that is more offended by raised voices than by systemic oppression”

    I see. Apparently, the problem was “raised voices” and nothing more. Well I guess there was absolutely no wrong done then. Hey, everybody–you’re all wrong and outraged over nothing. It was merely voices that were raised, that’s all.

  28. the way the women acted did make me feel uncomfortable. But I acknowledge why they felt it was necessary.

    I agree with other posters, though. Sanders was ready to dialog. He asked a question, treated them with respect. Their passion didn’t let them hear him, and so he shut down.

    Thankfully, it isn’t permanent. He has brought on a BLM activist as his press secretary.

    But it’s still an object lesson. The women had a disjointed strategy. They’d have been better off either just asking to speak or just shutting the event down. Both would have been more effective and appear more rational.

    By trying to do both, and not negotiating at all, it undermined their apparent goal.

    However, I feel it’s a testament to Sander’s character that he saw the actors for what they were, and didn’t let the moment dissuade him from sticking to his principles. A lesser person might have written the issue off.

  29. I have no issue with the initial action of disruption that occurred so much as the screaming in people’s faces, people who were trying to give time and be gracious. With the organizer saying to them that they were trying to be reasonable (and offer time for Mara and Marissa to speak) and yet getting screamed at in return, screaming “we ARE reasonable”. Clearly they were not listening and there was no opportunity for discourse. They claimed to want to hold Senator Sanders accountable but they did not even converse with him!

    To your point copied below…. Senator Sanders is not your ordinary Democrat (Socialist – Independent) and if you did any research on who he is and what his voting record is you would know that he is in agreement with the values of Black Lives Matter. He is not the one holding up that system you are fighting against, the same one the rest of us in this thread are fighting against. He is the sensible voice in the political wilderness of Washington D.C. , demanding conscience in decision making. He names it, he calls it what it is, an oligarchy, he wants to hold corporate criminals accountable and end the practices of injustice against the poor, people of color, the aged, immigrants, and anyone with less franchisement in this country. He is fully aware of social justice issues. Look at his voting record. Get as informed about him as you are about WEB Dubois, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Marcus Garvey and other important activists for the black movement. He has spent his life trying to make change happen. Everyone has a part to play.

    “Aren’t racist conservatives the real enemy?

    The real enemy is the system of racial inequality and white supremacy. There is no political party and no politician exempt from that. Liberal politicians have been banking on our vote for decades but black people in America have fared no better with Democrats than Republicans. Conservatives don’t even pretend to care. We’ll go where we feel we can make the most impact, and if that means that some Democrats are uncomfortable while Republicans sit wallowing in racial hatred – well, that’s just how it is for now. This system isn’t held up by conservatives alone.”

  30. Well, I take issue with a number of things stated in this article. First the notion that “Seattle is more offended by raised voices than by systemic oppression.” Seattle has a long history of “raised voices”. The 1999 WTO protests being an obvious example.

    I agree with you that disruption and riots are effective catalysts for change. But you are missing the fundamental difference between your citations of Birmingham and Ferguson with that of a Bernie Sanders speech. You protest against those that you feel are the problem. The corrupt police force in Ferguson is the problem. BLM protesting a Bernie Sanders speech is tantamount to Green Peace protesting a Jane Goodall speech.
    Next issue of contention is the implication that Bernie Sanders marched with MLK in the sixties, and hasn’t been an advocate for the black community since. When Bernie Sanders has a long record of working for the betterment of the black community that happens to date all the way back to the sixties. He supported Jesse Jackson, and In the 1990s, there was a successful effort to end the Pell Grant program for prisoners, which was one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism. Only a handful of members of Congress voted against the legislation, and almost all of them were members of the Black Caucus. Sanders was one of the few white members who opposed this effort. etc. He also was literally speaking about the importance of the black lives matter movement shortly after its inception last year. Well before Hillary Clinton or any other candidate.

    The one topic that’s not being discussed and is never discussed is that it’s not just an issue of race. It’s really an issue of poverty. Communities that have distrust of law enforcement — it’s because law enforcement is the only part of government they ever see. They’re poor; infant mortality rates are higher; single-family homes are higher; unemployment is higher; people don’t live as long as the average American. And in those communities, white or black, incidents of people killed by police is higher. Unfortunately, these communities are disproportionately black communities.

    Race is an issue that should have open discussion, but the bottom line is, when you have depressed communities, it leads to higher crime, which leads to more police, which leads to the only part of government they ever see. Bernie Sanders is the best chance of narrowing the income inequality gap in this country, which would have a profound effect on depressed communities, and in turn have a profound effect on lessening needless police violence.

  31. As a supporter of BLM from the very beginning I see at least two big problems with this action:

    (1) if you’re going to mount a protest you should state specific policies that you advocate so that you can hold elected officials accountable for delivering on specific promises. BLM doesn’t do this. They say their goal is some vague notion of “raising consciousness.”

    (2) You cannot expect to have free speech if you arbitrarily deny other people’s right to speak. The problem at that rally was not that BLM doesn’t have a “voice”, it is that it was not a rally they had organized yet they tried to impose their voice on others and, ironically, while claiming the right not to be silenced they insisted on silencing others.

    Beware when movements, ostensibly for a good cause, use facist-like methods to get their point across.

  32. My impression is that they expected resistance and had no clue what to do when they weren’t. Why? When they were provided the chance to speak, to make a real statement, they defaulted, shouting cliched slogans. When they weren’t dragged off stage, dramatically make them political martyrs, they wound up appearing belligerent, uninformed, and childish. Their act was predicate on the potential action of whites, which is why the act was so hollow; it had no content and therefore no weight.

    Some words on the political soapbox: Don’t run into a brawl throwing blind punches, you’ll knock yourself out. You know? Be graceful, prove you have a place on that stage; command the audience, don’t throw a tantrum in front of it. Let the words make them listen, not the volume of your voice.

    How should one put white establishment in its place? This is how a conversation take-over is properly done:

  33. Black Lives Matter V Bernie Sanders
    A Love Story
    I think it’s heart genius, like yelling at your lover in order stir the pot and fuck everything up and get their attention and start fresh. Then you cry, like the woman cried yesterday. Real tears. We needed those tears. Bernie and we all felt them. If you haven’t felt them watch the whole thing.…/news/2015/08/08/sanders-ra…/31359953/
    Then you will feel them.
    It wasn’t wrong or right, it was a relationship between lovers inside the left working itself out. Welcome to the left.
    “You can either have a relationship or you can be right.” Ask any therapist.
    There’s always a shit ton of shit between just two lovers. Think how much there will be between whole groups of lovers!
    As someone who has been doing activism now for over 40 years, and being a lover almost as long, lovers and activists sooner or later almost always fight over who is ignoring whom the most.
    And everyone feels their own needs and pains the most deeply.
    We need to drop down into our empathy now and just
    It’s good this relationship is moving so fast. If we get together, finally ~ like every saint has told us to for millennia ~ then we can make Heaven on Earth.

    1. These selfish, screaming, petulant women were acting out of hate, not love.

      It looks to me as though they were purposely baiting the people on stage, screaming how “reasonable” they were and even putting their hands on the one elderly gentleman. Love listens, and these two nasty, overgrown brats had no intention of listening, even when told “We’re going to let you speak.”

      I don’t think they wanted to speak. It looks to me like they were making as big and loud a drama-queen scene as they could in hopes of being dragged off the stage and arrested. Then they could be “martyrs” for the cause and wail about how victimized they’d been, blah blah blah, zzzzzz.

      AND it looks as though they were angry at NOT being dragged off and arrested. This is one of the stupidest, phoniest public spectacles I’ve seen in a long, long time, and I don’t care a damn for their crocodile tears. They accomplished NOTHING beyond handing free ammunition to those who would blindly ridicule all forms of social activism. They’re now the poster children for clueless, moronic protesters for whom “protesting” is some hipster, ain’t I cool hobby, done for its own sake to no meaningful purpose.

      And they’ve made complete fools of themselves for all the world to see. It’s comforting to know that if they ever have children of their own, those kids will have Internet access and laugh like hell at their idiotic, fake-acting mamas.

  34. If these young women had interrupted a Donald trump rally he’d have had them arrested and prosecuted them or sued them hillary Clinton the secret service would have taken them away. It’s kind of unbelievable that the BLM movement would choose a target such as Bernie sanders one of the most receptive and supportive candidates for their message. The excuse that he is the most accessible doesn’t fly. It was not fair to the attendees at the rally who came to hear about social security and Medicare. The BLM set itself up in opposition to two programs that help all people by demanding the rally shut down if they were not allowed to hijack the rally. Someone from the BLM movement needs to sit with these members and troll them look, find another way, don’t harass who is probably your best hope
    I begin to think this is a front funded by Clinton or other establishment candidates because they are scared of a truly progressive candidate. Are these young women really on Donald trumps payroll to discredit and harass progressive candidates? He wasn’t able to get his message out at all which is what the Right wants.

  35. I’m angry.Thank you for the realest article I’ve read in years. I’m heading to the bus stop; every day, I work to create economic justice in the city where we are good at not calling each other bad names directly into the faces of others and where racial dynamics that oppress are ever present. Today, I work to colose the opportunity divide. The young adults that take off on the runway I maintain earn everthing they get. In Fourty years in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve learned we are comfortable being “progressive”; however, when it comes to black people, highlighting the need for progress or working toward realizing progess is often veiwed as bad manners. Let’s do better.
    Young Adults can call me at Year Up.

  36. It is understandable that white left leaning “Democrats” would be upset by this and ask all of the questions mentioned above. However, we all need to understand that real protest in support of human rights, when it is trying to address a society’s endemic racism, truly has NO party or candidate allegiance; Nor should have any allegiance to party or candidate. In the 60’s, the revolution did not take p[lace as a move by democrats against republicans, it took place as a move by the people against the system!

    Least we forget, both parties and all of the candidates and elected officials have contributed to this untenable and immoral situation. If those that are feeling “hurt” by this protest, because they feel some sort of snub because they are democrats or they are the “good white people”, then they are not being quite as honest with themselves as they should be.

    The only way for this change to occur as it did in the 60’s, when we split with our own parents to make the point, is for all of the white “liberal and progressive” voters in America, support the aggressive actions of these good people who have once more said, enough is enough! They are willing to put themselves in harms way, possibly beaten or killed by the cops, to try to bring real change, not white middle class concepts of change, to their brothers and sisters!

    Maybe if we all respond with applause and support, this movement may have a chance to succeed in a way that is lasting and beneficial to not only the black community, but to all Americans. As that begins to happen, then candidates will not be heckled or booed, because they will be the ones making these demands in our legislatures around the country!

    1. this movement isn’t about all americans. Black only and it’s shameful for us to exclude others just because we’ve been excluded.

  37. Sorry, but you are wrong as to why Bernie was targeted.

    #BlackLivesMatter is a loosely affiliated amalgam of people with differing agendas, all elbowing each other to feed at the great George Soros funding trough.

    George Soros is Hillary Clinton’s largest donor and supporter, and sits on her SuperPAC Board:

    Soros also funds Black Lives Matter

    The result is that there is now a coordinated effort on the part of several black activists and groups to discredit Bernie Sanders among the general population but especially among Black Americans. Shameful, really. Poor Bernie – interrupted 2x in a row now when he has the best record on civil rights of anyone! … I guess this horrible case of political sabotage is just one more indication that the Clintonistas are Feeling the Bern!! #BLMHRCWTF

  38. Excuse after excuse after excuse! I protested the 2004 GOP convention, and these two poseurs protested…Bernie Sanders. Pathetic. It turns out that one of them is a Sarah Palin supporter and “radical Christian.” In the meantime, a black man terrorized other black people and children with a rifle in a Philadelphia community, a black man killed his entire family because his ex changed the locks, and gunfire erupted during the Michael Brown anniversary. All the fault of white people, I’m sure. Well, you just lost this white atheist’s support. Good luck.

  39. This is a great article. I left Seattle 3 years ago and moved to New York. I never realized how racist Seattle is, and by growing up there as a white guy I was/am until I moved.

    I immediately started to see the story appear on my Facebook feed couched in a narrative of conspiracy so as to trivialize their message and to make them look like crazy renegades. That’s bogus. It doesn’t matter what put those women on that podium, because their message is relevant and valid. If for some reason their outrage was a feint (and that’s preposterous—any sane person should know black people have plenty reason to be upset), it doesn’t change the fact that they spoke truth.

    Black people have endured centuries of white knights who have stood at podiums, delivering pretty speeches that have promised everything and delivered nothing. Liberals seem to forget that Obama ran on Hope, Change, and Unicorns in 2008…and here we are in 2015 arguably worse off. Certainly no better. And Obama’s a black guy.

    With that in mind, how could any sane rational mind, of which it turns out white people do not hold a monopoly in possessing, still have faith that the sort of revolutionary change needed in this country will come through conventional politics? At what point is it time to stop listening to promises and start delivering actions?

    Frankly, I’m surprised we’ve not started seeing it until now.

    1. I’m glad someone is finally willing to step up as an ambassador for the coming massive civil uprising to change the way this country works (or doesn’t work). Please, tell me when and where your strategizing meetings will take place. What is your plan for overcoming the massive military this nation has created that is, ironically, populated by a large number of the disadvantaged we’re fighting to protect? Where is the first battle? We are in desperate need of a leader, and since we’re not concerned with trying to play by the rules of conventional politics, we should not be concerned about the consequences. Let’s take this off an internet board and start the revolutionary change needed now! I am ready.

  40. It’s one thing to protest, a harmless protest to show the fear, divide, and anger, but it’s another to wrongfully protest a man who fights for the cause. As you say, there already is a black man in office. But even Obama realizes that once he mentions the BLM movement, because perception is reality, he will then merely become an activist. If Bernie, a white man from New York activaly fights for the cause, it benefits more than just his campaign. Attacking his stage did nothing but benefit his campaign because of the way he handled it, but hurt the BLM movement because of a strategic fail. Nothing was considered except the easier access to sabotage his campaign. It’s easy because he does fear a threat from anybody because he is so true to his word. Imagine what would have happened if this was Jeb Bush’s campaign. It would not have played well for the protesters. Do not push people away when you need all the support you can get. Black lives do matter, but we need all lives to support it.

  41. Bottom line – Were we able to hear what Bernie had to say? No. Were we able to hear what the women had to say? No. This tactic was ineffective. Beyond whether I am white or middle class , I am a human being that likes to hear all sides of the arguments. Although I understand the anger and feel it justified, yelling at me isn’t going to accomplish anything – it is misdirected. Unfortunately, these type of demonstrations are used by racists and authority figures to justify violent police strategies to scared white people. And the tactic interfered with the chance to really problem solve or even articulate issues so they are on the audience’s radar. I am white, but I have loved ones, friends, ex-partners and family who are black. And there are more and more of us out there who feel that instinctual protectiveness because our loved ones are in danger. Lastly, I can’t help but think of the whole gun rights issue. There is a connection in the inability of our country to talk about this issue without confrontations resulting in no one listening to each other and the violence towards Black Lives. And the wanton drive to own and use guns for “protection” is so intertwined with the violence towards African Americans. It is not as if this is one separate issue that isn’t tangled up with a whole lot of dysfunction in our society. So whatever happens, it will need dialogue to create clear goals and policy. We are all to trigger happy, quick to yell instead of listen and articulate, as well as to fire the weapon.

  42. “…lack of action on fighting racial inequality and police brutality…”

    I’m just curious if the author thinks that Bernie Sanders’ plan ( was thought up in a day… There’s no way such a detailed plan was concocted in reaction to the interruption in less than 24 hours. Racial equality is a part of the man’s platform, he’s been speaking and acting on if for the past FIFTY YEARS for god’s sake.

    And the top poster is right — a dialogue is a two-way street. The two protestors had a right to be angry, and perhaps even to take over the event (which Bernie recognized), but not to allow for a response (when Sanders tried) is ridiculously counterproductive and short sighted.

  43. Wow. What a great way to change the world. Go ahead and continue to change our minds by continuing to yell, scream, and break things. Keep on destroying other people’s property to display your anger and frustration at the system. Keep on promoting and glorifying violence, destructive behavior, poor sexual attitudes towards women and other races, and drug use in your music and your music videos. Keep on making poor financial choices. Keep on refusing to fix your houses, keep on refusing to put money back into your own communities, keep on ditching school and refusing education even when it is handed to you on a platter. Keep on buying food with welfare checks and drugs and alcohol with cash, instead of putting that cash towards improving your lives. Keep on throwing away boxes of clothes in the garbage. Make sure you always kill somebody else at your parties, have a stabbing or a drive-by shooting at your family get-togethers, because that totally works in changing minds about you. Oh yeah, and keep on voting for that one political party, the one still owned by the rich White Southern men, because they have done soooo much for you.
    And oh yeah, okay, “Black Lives Matter”. Eff the Native Americans, eff the Mexican-Americans, eff the Chinese-Americans, eff the Latin-Americans, eff the Hmong, Vietnamese, and Korean-Americans, eff the Indian and Pakistani-Americans, eff the Egyptian and Persian-Americans, AND the Christians, AND the Jews, AND the Jehovah’s Witnesses AND the Mormons while you’re at it.
    You know, that country, that country in Africa, the one created by and for freed African slaves — Liberia — such a world power, you know? What a gem of peace, harmony, and liberty, displaying such diplomacy and forward-thinking, leading other African nations to a new millennium.
    Oh, oh yeah. Rioting and destruction and breaking the law, that totally works in changing people’s minds. Don’t have respectable businesses. Don’t put education as a priority. Don’t make your homes beautiful. Don’t put money back into the community. Don’t invent new technology. Don’t try to learn any foreign languages. Hey, don’t even bother learning English.
    And keep insulting the people who do try to care and do try to work things out by accusing every single one of us as being racists and keep on denying any one of us daring to try and cross the breach with an offer of peace. I can see how that’s been going real well.

    Actually, I’m from Los Angeles. I would totally have offered you peace, but seeing as I have been declared a racist just because of, well, reasons, never mind.

    Vivan los immigrantes ilegales! Hola, mis amigos de Panama, Mexico, Venezuela, y Brasil! Hi to my Japanese and Japanese-AMerican friends! Buon giorno, mis primos Italianos! Greetings, my Egyptian-American friends! Talofa, my Samoan friends! Aloha, my Hawaiian native friends! Shalom, my Hebrew and Jewish friends! Bonjour, mes amis francais! Greetings, my native American cousins and friends! I have been declared “effed” along with everybody else! Come on over to my place in HELL for some dang good BBQ!

    1. Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean “BLACK LIVES MATTER ABOVE ALL”, it means “Black lives matter, too.”

      Someone as …’smart’ as yourself should had known that.

      1. And yet the way these two women behaved, they clearly believe that their message matters above any other, and so they were willing to literally, physically fight for the chance to get that mic and scream that message into it.

        Now, I’m not saying that they are representative of BLM as a whole. I sure hope not! But their message is clearly not compatible with inclusiveness.

  44. I’m just flabbergasted at the amount of nonsense rationalization going on here. I cannot understand how it’s OK for her to do this. Two wrongs don’t make a right. These girls behaved like billies pure and simple. They came up and bullied Sanders off the mic. Then they bullied The event organizer and screamed at him. And for what? To protest the way black people are bullied and oppressed by the police? You’ve got to be kidding me…nobody sees the irony here? I can’t believe that you compared this to the Tea Party and the Bus Boycott. Both of those protests actually sent a message. Boycott the busses because the bus company makes black people sit in the back…throw the tea off because the tea is taxed without representation. Steal the mic from Sanders at a peaceful…(progressive nonetheless!)… rally and bully the crowd into listening to the message that YOU feel they ought to be talking about? What a disgrace! And then she called all the people in an audience racists! I don’t understand what ancillary injustice she felt gave her the right to do that! You’re going to get others to listen to you by screaming at them? Outrageous! You know, you talk about this strategy as a necessary evil in order to upset the apple cart so to speak. But when MLK did it, he had strategies and he kept discipline among his ranks. This is, most decidedly, NOT, that. This is not strategy, it’s lack of self control…and the last thing we need to inject into any society, is blind rage and raw emotion. You don’t just store up all your emotions and then just unleash them on people at random. How do you think racism against blacks erupts into violence? Racists store up all of the perceived offenses that blacks have committed and then they unleash them in a horrible act of violence that seems justified to them at the time. Is that OK? No! Neither is this! Does our society and government need to step up and do something drastic about racism? Yes! But you don’t go around just bullying whoever you deem fit to bully! That’s not civil disobedience or protest! It’s just bullying!
    This piece, Ijeoma Oluo, is really an incredible exercise in rationalization that ignores some extremely obvious truths in favor of some others that you and others seem insistent, in the echo chamber of Afro-centric political philosophy, to believe. I don’t care what color you are…the common law of civility applies to you. Some plans and policies that tip the economic and civil scales in favor of blacks may be necessary as a response to the centuries of systemic racism…but we must be vigilant never to tip the scales of absolute justice and the golden law…you don’t gain imagined rights because you feel you’ve been done an injustice.

  45. Basically the only thing defending they’re actions in constantly targeting Bernie Sanders was that he is more accessible to the protesters, which tells me that instead of taking actions that would be the most effective to their cause they chose to take the easy route and there’s nothing commendable about that. Did MLK march into Montgomery from Selma because it was easy? No, he did it because he knew it would be the most effective way to get attention for the cause he championed. These girls weren’t actually trying to bring awareness to their cause, they were acting out of self interest and making a scene so they could bring attention to themselves not racial injustice. If accessibility is the only reason BLM is targeting Bernie than they are destined to fall by the wayside as another social movement that failed to accomplish real change. It was not easily accessible for black men and women to vote which is why MLK led the march to Montgomery to change that, and getting into Montgomery wasn’t exactly accessible for them at first either but the lack of accessibility was the reason why they marched in the first place. They didn’t do it because it was easy, they did it because it was necessary and if the BLM movement wants to spark real change in this country they would recognize the necessity to spread their message and protests to other candidates raise awareness across the multiple demographics that are not being reached by constantly bombarding Bernie Sanders exclusively.

  46. If you go to a Justin Timberlake concert and Soulja Boy rushes on stage and doesn’t let JT perform, do you people are booing because he is black? If a BLM rally was forced to stop because an environmentalist forced their way on the stage and didn’t allow the keynote speaker on, would the crowd cheer and vow to do more for the environment? People were mad because they came to hear Bernie speak, and he was not allowed to. The crowd would have been made no matter who stole the stage.

  47. My bias: I think civil disobedience is warranted, if not always laudatory, in cases of institutional injustice. However, since social acts (particularly disruptive ones) typically have consequences, it’s interesting to ask who the organizer was who either (a) didn’t think to ask the police to remove the protesters from the stage, or (b) instructed the police NOT to interfere with the BLM protesters, thereby thwarting the entire Bernie Sanders appearance FOR WHICH S/HE WAS RESPONSIBLE. I think the organizer is the real story here. Yes, the BLM protesters had the “right” (small r) to protest, and I support them in doing so, but they should have been (and no doubt expected to be) arrested (hopefully after being given a chance to make their point). This is how civil disobedience works. The organizer(s) flopped. They didn’t hold up their end of the social “bargain.”

  48. 1. ” If that’s the claim that he’s making, then he should welcome the words of black people.”

    He does. He was already in the process of hiring a black civil rights activist to be his press secretary – basically handing her the mic as his spokesperson for his entire campaign, not just one rally. The problem is not with what Bernie Sanders does and has done for his entire career, it is the fact that some people aren’t aware of what he does and has always done.

    2. “For us, everything is about Black Lives Matter.” Do any black people have parents or grandparents who depend on a Social Security check every month?

    3. “What do you think the Boston Tea Party was? What about the Montgomery Bus Boycott?” Those events were targeted at those who were responsible for injustice. This protest was targeted at a a politician who has spent his career fighting for the same issues the protestors were protesting. Bernie Sanders supported the first black candidate to run for president; at least on of the protestors opposed the election of the first black president (she was a Palin supporter).

    4. “Really? Two protesters got on stage and interrupted your chance to hear a candidate speak and now you don’t believe in racial justice and ending police brutality?”
    No. People still believe in racial justice and ending police brutality. That’s one big reason why they are voting for Bernie Sanders. People have questioned a specific movement – BLM – based on the behavior of a few individuals who claimed authority to speak for all of that nationwide movement.

    5. “Black people have been held hostage by this threat for decades. But we have a black man in the white house right now and we still have black blood running in the streets, the school to prison pipeline is still going strong, and white people still have 13 times the wealth of black people. Staying quiet and hoping for some trickle-down progressivism to make its way down to us hasn’t worked out too well for us.”

    Dr. King was called “Doctor” for a reason. He educated himself. He would be aware that Bernie has not been a part of the republican wing of the democratic party, the Clinton wing. Bernie has been so disgusted with that “trickle down progressivism” that he has not called himself a democrat. He has been pounding on the walls of the democratic establishment – the exact same thing that educated BLM members are doing and that those two women seem to believe they are doing – for decades, demanding the same solutions that BLM demands.

    6. ” Consistently bringing that up in defense for lack of action on fighting racial inequality and police brutality as a senator just makes you sound like you’re asking for a free pass to inaction today.”

    If you believe that Bernie is guilty of that inaction, you don’t know what you are talking about. Ask Dr. Cornell West; he’s paying attention to who does what.

    7. “Black people who think that black lives matter seems pretty official to me.” These 2 individuals had no understanding of the person they were protesting. Or maybe they did – again, one was a Palin supporter who opposed the election of the first black President of the United States. The Black Lives Matter movement is smarter than that.

    8. “I don’t know what circles you are hanging out in, but I’ve seen a LOT of criticism of Hillary — along with criticisms of the reforms her husband put in place that black people are still suffering from today.” Yet the women who protested the speech were working to elect Hillary by silencing Bernie.
    “But the amount of security that she has at her events makes her much less accessible.”
    An earlier poster pointed out that Dr. King went to the most difficult, dangerous, least “accesible” places to protest – he targeted his action to specific injustices and unjust officials.

    9. “There is no political party and no politician exempt from that. Liberal politicians have been banking on our vote for decades but black people in America have fared no better with Democrats than Republicans”

    Most of us who support Bernie precisely because we are so fed up with the establishment democrats that you claim to be fed up with. Claiming that Bernie Sanders – who until this year always ran as an Independent and/or Socialist precisely because he is not an establishment democrat like the Clintons – is part of the democratic establishment is simply ignorant.

    10. “The divide is already there, the divide lies in the fear, sadness and frustration that black people in America feel every day that white people will never know.” There does not need to be a divide between BLM and the people that are the strongest (white) supporters of BLM. Who benefits from such a division? We are on the same side. The only ones who benefit from dividing us are those who oppose the goals of BLM, which are the same as the goals of Bernie Sanders. Bernie needs BLM – he needs the support of BLM in particular and Black America generally to defeat the democratic and republican establishments – and BLM needs Bernie, because no other candidate has worked as hard and will work as hard as Bernie does to accomplish the goals of BLM.

  49. I can support BLM while still doubting these two individuals as the best messengers on behalf of this movement. MLK and Chavez encountered the same challenge from time to time – both spent years building a following before they became widely known. In other words, both had credibility by having “paid their dues” for the movement they ultimately led – it looks like one of the these two women – if indeed she recently supported Sarah Palin – may not have earned the credibility to present herself as a spokesperson for the Black Lives Matter movement.
    So to sum it up, while your references for the occasional need to overturn tables may be true, I am not sure the two people who grabbed the mic Saturday actually effectively turned over the proverbial tables or if they did, it was probably not done in an effective way.

  50. What is the end goal though? There are white people who struggle with their whiteness and understand that racism is more than a personal feeling and that they have benefited from years of oppression. –but how do these people fit into the shout-down version of BLM? Are all white people automatically the enemy? Why go after the group where you’re most likely to find supporters? I don’t mean fake supporters either, but people who will listen and try to do what you ask. It’s harder and harder to want to help when all you get is a “fuck off, look at the color of your skin”

  51. The author is just another Hillary plant. If this whole thing is not a Clinton tactic prove it by also hounding Hillary. More importantly, start dogging the first black president, he has done nothing about this. As long as only one candidate is being hounded, this whole movement has no legitimacy.

  52. #strategyfail, not just for the two women that took the stage and called the entire crowd white supremacists, but for this article’s attempt to justify what they did and how they did it. This “protest” was obnoxious and alienated many who support black lives matter, and this article is no better.

    The event had several black speakers, one of which was the regional president of the NAACP. Blacks and black lives matter were represented at the event, but these two clowns hijacked the show with incoherent rambling and name calling the entire crowd white supremest liberals. And now this article is attempting to justify that by pointing fingers at all of us, and again saying that we “prefer politeness to progress” unless we agree with the article and the tactics employed at the event.

    “You either believe in equality and justice or you don’t”. Nonsense. The underlying premise of this argument is that while we say they alienated a crowd that supports their cause, unless we subscribe to their rude and misplaced militant tactics that we don’t really support their cause. It’s like Bush saying “you’re either with us, or you’re against us.” Well it’s not that black and white, and you don’t get to say that unless we support their childish behavior that we also don’t believe in equality and justice. Absolute nonsense. It doesn’t work like that. Clearly the author is as myopic as those two protesters.

    In fact the whole premise of this article is as racist and offensive as those two protesters, because the entire premise of this article is that if we don’t agree, we’re part of the “hidden Seattle that black people know all too well” etc. In other words, if we disagree with these protester’s methods and this article, then we must be liberal white supremests that prefer “politeness over progress”. Again, nonsense. These are straw man arguments, racist, and divisive.

    The author is as clueless as those protesters. I support black lives matter, but I do not support the attacking of the most liberal candidate for president, and I don’t support calling the entire crowd white supremest liberals, and I don’t support the same insinuations that run throughout this article.

  53. This is a very important read, but so many of the responses to it show why there is a problem. From being deaf to the issue to accusing BLM activists of hating Jews, some white progressives will do anything to avoid the fact that black people are literally being murdered in the street by the forces of the state while they do nothing.

  54. Ok 1 – From what I have heard these two have been publicly denounced as part of the BLM movement and some of the bigger activitists of the movement are calling for these 2 women to publicly apologize to Bernie.

    2) “white people still have 13 times the wealth of black people” I don’t really see how this can be a subject of blame regardless of the skin color of our president. That’s a fault of being born to the wrong parents are not having the drive to do something about it.

    Nice try though!

  55. I am well aware of the movement “Black Lives Matter” and support it fully. I am angered and frustrated that in some parts of the country people would be killed for something as immaterial as the presence of different melanin than my own. That is beyond absurd to me. Those of us with our eyes on Bernie Sanders, I would venture a guess, are also aware of this problem and are taking steps to assist. Part of that assistance comes in one of the only forms that can make a real change: voting. We are looking to a new generation of leader that can take charge in the efforts to make those voices heard. Interrupting a candidate who has true compassion for that cause (unlike many others) in a city that is typically known for being progressive seems about as self-serving as going to a middle school to talk about how great video games are. As I’ve said, I am angry and frustrated that to others of my race the importance of any life can possibly seem lesser, but what will this anger get me if I am to act on it immediately? Am I to go to the nearest African-American in my community and walk in front of them in case a cop sees them as a threat? Am I supposed to hand every black person I see $50 because I feel bad for their status in life? How demoralizing and, quite honestly, rude. You tell me how I can REALLY act upon my anger TODAY without use of counter-violence or generally drastic measures? Should I push our mayor away from a podium and make him listen to my thoughts on how best to help those in my community? The changes made in the early 60’s started a movement to tear down laws of opression. They are already gone on the Federal level, what we’re trying to accomplish now is social equality. It is a little harder to change people’s minds, especially when using guerilla tactics. As a woman, I am well-aware of the inequality in the workforce; as a bisexual, I am well-aware of being denied equal rights; as someone who had lived below the poverty line for over 25 years, I know the massive system in place to keep the poor where they are. I have been infuriated about these systems as much as I am about the degradation of people of color. I vote, I speak out, I find ways to improve the lives of those who need it, I don’t make a public spectacle and utterly disrespect thousands of people which probably already have my best interests at heart anyway. How many times have liberals, like me, been frustrated when sensationalism for a certain cause (like conservative agendas, denial of gay rights, or forcing religious teaching in schools) has been used? This is not the way to gain traction. My views on this movement are not changed by this news or my frustration at the brow-beating this article seems to be utilizing without providing REAL alternative solutions to the true issue at hand.

  56. I think the #blacklivesmatter strategy has been BRILLIANT . . . and successful.

    By focusing on the most progressive of the mainstream candidates, rather than on the Republican (who would have ignored BLM, and who would have worn a protest by BLM as a GOP badge of honor), BLM has caused Sanders to “centralize” a discussion about race In his campaign, and it has already produced tangible results – including, the selection of Symone Sanders, who was the national youth chair of the Coalition on Juvenile Justice, as his new spokesperson; and, in the introduction of his new, strong, Racial Justice platform.

    Hillary (who could not be targeted, because she has been meeting with small groups of big money donors, rather than having big, Sanders-styled, public events), and any other Democrats, are going to have to follow suit.

    Clearly, BLM is setting the national political agenda when it comes to race (much in the same way that OCCUPY set the agenda with income inequality, money as speech, and, to a lesser extent, corporate personhood).

    In light of last night’s violence there, if I were Bernie Sanders campaign manager, I would have him on a flight to Ferguson, MO, for a frank, open, public forum on Racial Justice with the national leaders of BLM.

    That is what a LEADER would do, and, if he does it, Bernie could actually win the support of people of color NOT because of what he did back in the ’60s, but because of what he is pledging to do now!

    That would be a very positive step forward for America.

  57. Comparing these rude, counterproductive, removed-from-policy-making-and-implementation yelling jerks to Boston Tea Party & Montgomery Bus Boycott is a ridiculous stretch.

  58. From the far distance this looks bizarre.
    So Sanders has a record of showing positive attitude for equal rights, and is your best chance of an old white man supporting your interests. Conclusion: attack him. Spread hate and make absolute clear that your never willing to forgive or even forget. And especially nice: he won’t hit back. Result: as a white you know showing any support for equal rights never will pay off, instead you’re becoming only target of both extremist sides. By demographic you can (ok, maybe not, because you’re …you know) calculate how this will end up. Your position is clear, the far right position is also clear, but it depends how the undecided middle mass will react. Congrats, and welcome to the KKK – these guys would make you a grand lord or whatever for pushing the majority into their camp.

  59. Of course I get it. I concur with all your comments,I Oluo. But please, lets take yes for an answer and work to get this outsider elected. All the insiders will get you is the status quo.

  60. Except that the person most likely to be killed by a cop is a Native American. Because they are a smaller minority, they get less attention. This is trickle-down racism. All lives matter…or they don’t.

  61. Attacking moderates that are otherwise politically sympathetic is bad strategy. BLM failed to understand the crowd, create and manage reasonable expectations. This led to then also failing to include, educate and inspire. The reason BLM exists is legitimate and the work is damn important, but this was a failed effort.

  62. “Seattle had a chance to set its comfort aside and listen to what these women had to say.”
    …but they weren’t there to listen to what these women have to say!!! They were there to listen to what Bernie Sanders has to say! Do you not see how fixing income inequality would help fix racial inequality? Sure, it wouldn’t do everything, but it would be a step in the right direction.

    I get that “For us, everything is about Black Lives Matter.” Fine. Whatever. But the candidate who only ever talks about BLM is going to get approximately 13% of the vote (the percentage of Americans who are Black). In addition to having some devoted discussion of racial politics, can we please just include BLM in the context of other issues, rather than dismissing other issues simply because they include some people who are not Black?

  63. Rude, inconsiderate, brutish behavior wins no one over. You and yours can rationalize it till kingdom come. It still doesn’t change that fact. Your BS explanations convince no one. This sounds ignorant, impatient, opportunistic, cruel and immature. How do you argue with people and tell them who they really are and what they really think when they are telling you how they feel.

  64. They are like guests who were invited to a party, but instead decided to break down the door and crash the party anyway just to look cool to their bully friends, and even spit in the face of the host. I find them to be people I would never coalition with. They are narcissistic fools all full of ego, with no discernment, just aggression. Fortunately, they are fake BLM and co-opted the hashtag for their Globalist power trip. The real BLM was integrated into Bernie’s staff weeks ago.

  65. This was an awful decision and only serves to feed into racial stereotypes, both of black people and white.

    The goal of these two children was to shut the event down and gain as much attention as possible. They did that, and now BLM will pay for it. Screaming and waving arms in the air in an aggressive manner might make great fodder to get people on t.v., but it will turn off a lot of people. It has, though many are too afraid to say it for fear of being called racist now.

    BLM has alienated me. This doesn’t only feel like a movement to save black lives anymore. It feels like an all out war on whites and particularly white liberals, which is bizarre to say the least.

    I’ll still support and promote that which will change the way things are now and save lives, but I will do so while consciously avoiding giving any credence to BLM and their radical actions.

    BLM doesn’t care what people think of their aggressive tactics. Fair enough. I don’t care what BLM thinks anymore either. Job well done.

  66. This article is a black-wash of a good man who deserves the respect to have potential allies come in through the front door, not arrogantly grabbing someone else s mic. The claim that they speak for BLM is refuted by many other authentic BLM groups who repudiate the disruption.

    Just this one line explaining why they targeted Bernie reveals why many whites see police force as justified:

    ” But the amount of security that she has at her events makes her much less accessible.” [read: there are police there to maintain order, let’s attack where someone left a door unlocked.

  67. I’m black but I can say this article was complete trash. You see REAL leaders like Martin Luther King had a sense of urgency but they knew to pick their battles. Take his march through Selma, he went to the bridge then walked back until he got the court order allowing it.

    The problem with these girls actions is that they are divisive. Dr. King worked with liberal whites, if you try to make this a black vs. white thing we will lose, we are outnumbered and while the asian and hispanic races are growing in America we are not.

    We need to work with other races. If you can’t see that, I hope you enjoy irrelevancy.

  68. Check out the tweet this hypocrite Ijeoma favorited:

    “Bernie supporters don’t like free speech…they prefer intimidation should a person dare to criticize”

    The irony is lost on your sweetheart, maybe you should do something to respond to the hijacking of the comment section on your article with a majority being criticisms of your piece. Bernie already responded, now how about you?

    I have more conviction in my pinky than these young women who acted like children have in their entire body:

  69. I don’t think you can ever make a case for disruptions and disrespect at a peaceful rally with those who paid to attend. You won’t deflate your cause, but you sure as hell aren’t doing anything to further it. Those ignorant of the trials of african americans only see the disrespect and the callousness of their actions and use it to further that divide. Honestly, I’d also like you to explain the beyond-obnoxious “sipping on white tears” shirt. In no way can you demand race equality while wearing that sort of garbage.

  70. “But the amount of security that she has at her events makes her much less accessible.”
    That’s all to know about these protesters.

  71. Does anybody know whether these two women actually come from comfortable middle class surroundings themselves?I am not saying that an analysis based on race is invalidated by a class based analysis -the two forms of oppression race and class are interwoven and overlapping
    ,though there is not an exact fit between race and class more a very close relationship between the two. It is obvious that a child can be white poor and more disadvantaged than the child of a wealthy black person.Bernie Sanders knew poverty as a child…have these women got the right to paint themselves as more real or more legitimate than him when it comes to understanding oppression? Oppression of black people..Yes
    ..but they tried to hold themselves up as the spokespeople of the victims of a wider oppression..they may be out of their depth here.

  72. The comments that I have read about the “disruptions” at the Bernie Sanders events are really making me tired. I’ve actually been spending a lot of time thinking about why it is that white people have such a hard time with this – in light of the fact that there is a community that is dealing with some life and death issues. I think a huge part of it is that “getting to be white” requires a great deal of complicity with the existing power structure. It is a quieting that permeates how you live your life. It transcends who someone is going to vote for, or whether they agree with “the plight of POC”. It is in the everyday way that we hush ourselves and are “polite”. I think that this is evident in how white people are socialized – we are taught to “respect authority” to limit how we show emotions – to walk quietly, love quietly, learn quietly, live quietly, and grieve quietly. When I was in school, I was horribly and violently bullied, as are many of the neurodiverse folks with whom I work, because we do understand nor do we follow the rules of whiteness. We behave differently and say things more directly. Those are violation of whiteness. You can see in many of us traces of our non-white ancestors – that too makes us a target of whiteness. I was bullied for having a body that was too ethnic, hair that was too unruly, lips that were too full – viciously targeted for these non-white characteristics. To be white, someone down the line, our non-white ancestors who were either mixed with more “white looking folks” had to abandon their ethnicities, their differences in behavior and culture, and participate in the quieting of who they were. They were “educated” and “civilized” and inculcated into whiteness at schools. So, when a POC is loud, speaks up, and refuses to go along with the dominant majority, to a white person, it feels so wrong. They are not “playing the game” the right way. They are violating decorum. But white people need to wake up and understand that decorum and “rules of the game” are designed to uphold the power structure that supports an unequal hierarchy that is designed to maintain a powerful, small elite class. If we are serious about changing things, then we need to recognize that the polite route must be abandoned. We need to get loud and in the face of folks. If we do not push Bernie Sanders to talk about ‪#‎BLACKLIVESMATTER‬, if we do not push the left further left, you can guarantee that nothing will change. The primary season should be about pushing the change agenda forward. Do not chastise POC for not being “polite” enough or for “not following the rules” – this is a game in which they can never win and it is a game in which the winners win by taking from POC, by victimizing POC and by keeping POC impoverished and disenfranchised. Yes – Bernie Sanders is now and has been an advocate of policies that will benefit POC, but I for one was uncomfortable that he had not directly mentioned the ongoing violence towards POC at the hands of the state. After the Black Lives Matters interruptions, he began to more directly address this. The Black Lives Matters movement needs to continue to hold him – and his mostly white liberal audiences – accountable for doing more to dismantle a system from which they derive considerable privilege and advantage.

  73. Thank you for writing this. As a black person I am really tired of white people talking black folks who and how we should protest, who we should support, and who our “allies” are. Direct action is necessary for social change.

  74. The article is wrong in so many ways. For Bernie to have a chance the people that came to listen to him needed to be able to. Despite the fact that most, if not all, attendees are for the BLM cause does not mean they can’t hurt Bernie. So, shutting down Bernie to a crowd already friendly to both causes serves only to potentially hurt Bernie in his long shot bid to supplant establishment candidates.

  75. I completely agree that black lives matter and Bernie Sanders needs to develop a plan that will make sure that blacks are treated more fairly, whether in the workplace or in the criminal justice system. I can understand the anger and frustration that many blacks feel about not being treated fairly decades after the civil rights bill was signed by President Johnson in 1964.

    That being said, interrupting a rally and silencing the one person fighting hardest for minorities is definitely not the way to attract people to their cause. There is no way that blacks, organizing alone will be able to overcome the entrenched racism and bigotry in our society. A much better solution would be for leaders of BLM to meet with Bernie Sanders and go over all their grievances and demands to see what public policy would satisfy their demands, not jumping up on a stage and grabbing a microphone away.

  76. The boogyman you call “systemic racism” is not the problem with the black community and you know it. You continue to blame whites for all your troubles when the fact is black women continue to have babies out of wedlock and let the streets raise their boys. 100 years ago black families were the least to divorce and today feminists ideology creates a culture of loose women and black crime. That’s nobody’s fault but your own.

  77. I can see exactly nothing problematic with the logic that every black person legitimately represents the Black Lives Matter movement through virtue of existing. I’m sure that the mountain of fallacious arguments that have been used to resist coalition building are not the work of plants, but people who don’t understand how much they are hurting their cause. We need to move past the concept of race as a society. It’s a social construct, a broken one at that. I am 100% against the use of state sanctioned violence against citizens, I am against the suppression of even the most fringe voices, and support equality to the logical extreme. Black Lives Matter has made its point, resoundingly so, but it won’t go much further rehashing the same tactics. It’s time for the movement to evolve into something more useful, the numbers stall out at a meaningless point if you get caught up in semantics. It stings that the identity of the movement will muddle, but that’s the only way to build a group large enough to effect change. We need an ever surging tidal wave of bodies, raw life that will flood the places of governance and demand change or repercussions. It’s true that direct action is necessary for social change, but pacifism is less than indirect. Pacifism is surrender.

  78. I’m a white woman and I finally understand, in part, what the message of Black Lives Matter is about. A stunningly brilliant black woman put me on the path of learning and growing until I could get to the edges of what it means to be black or brown in America.

    I will never say that having an officer start towards me with his billy club or having PTSD were or are good things. I will say that having those two things happen to me assisted me in beginning to comprehend the BLM movement. I already sit where I can see who’s coming in the door and check where the exits are before I sit down in public. This is the status quo for many African Americans.

    I understand now what white privilege is; as much as any white person can understand it. White privilege and BLM are interwoven much like a DNA helix. It’s not that other things don’t matter; instead it is a battle cry that THIS (BLM), is what the focus is on at this time in our history. The story and the history are still being written. White individuals do not get to write the story. White people do not get to make the decisions about what is acceptable. What white people do get to do is become aware of the plight of being ‘of color’ in this country. White privilege means that I do not have to worry that my son will be one of every three young men jailed as a result of color. White privilege means I don’t have to worry that I’ll be murdered because I failed to use an automobile turn signal. Being white means I can go where I want without somebody calling the police about a suspicious person hanging around. It is, in effect, a lot of issues that white America has never had to consider.

    At this moment, the BLM community seems to be telling the white community to stay away. It’s understandable that they want their time to grieve privately. They are Americans and have their right to come together as a community to decide what course they want to follow to begin to heal this divide. They absolutely need to find the young men and women that will be needed to represent them as we, together, work past this horror of American apartheid.

    A great many of us acted as allies during the LGBTQ fight. An even greater number of us are allies in this issue. We hope we will soon become welcome to participate in this battle. White mothers of Black children must be welcomed. This is their community as well.

    There is something else I know. The white community doesn’t understand what is meant by the phraseology of Black Lives Matter. It is not by choice that they don’t understand it. The media has not addressed its meaning. It cannot yet be found in an unabridged dictionary. Not understanding frustrates those who are not of color. It creates a divide that, quite likely, adds fuel to the fire. Change is more easily affected when the problem is well defined. Use of the term ‘American apartheid’ may prove to be a more effective and understandable form of terminology for Caucasians struggling to understand the actual definition of Black Lives Matter.

    It’s quite unlikely that the BLM issue is as simple as what I’ve been able to grasp at this point in my education. We Americans, regardless of color, have a journey to begin together. We must set aside labels that divide us. We must learn to say we are not Black or polish or Irish

  79. Ms Oluo’s rationalizations in this piece are pretty weak. They boil down to “I am so passionate about my cause that it must be okay for me to hijack the conversation whenever I am able to.” This is a failed attempt to spin childish behavior into something heroic. Please! Hijacking Senator Sanders’ rally is certainly not the end of the world, but the issue of progressing on racism is too important to address with playground tactics like we saw in Seattle this week.

  80. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who is seriously trying to tackle the widening gap between the richest Americans and the rest of us (this is why “white people still have 13 times the wealth of black people” as you put it). Sanders was a pioneer of the civil rights movement. All you’ve done is momentarily silenced the one candidate that can actually help you, and alienate many would-be allies.

    Here is the thing: It’s not that I “didn’t really believe in [racial justice] to begin with.” It’s that I’m torn between the narratives of “white privilege” (which I agree is largely true) and the sad reality that the black community continues to bring much of this heat on itself. Disrupting Bernie Sanders’ speech isn’t going to increase your chances for “racial justice.”

    Whether or not blacks have fared better under Democratic or Republican presidents is a moot point, since even Democratic presidents have had a difficult time turning the tide of growing gap in income/wealth. So while Obama’s economic policy is preferable to Bush’s, the income disparity has grown, because that’s been the trend for the last 40 years, of which Obama has been on the tail end. To simply say blacks have fared no better misses the point. There are policy differences, and getting them in place requires more than rioting and disrupting.

    The problem is in part that Democrats have played within the rules and have been hardly effective if at all. We finally have the possibility of a President who will shake things up and really clamp down on the growing wealth disparity. If you’re really worried about white people having “13 times the wealth of black people,” you should elated that Bernie Sanders is planning on raising the top marginal income tax to 50% and the minimum wage to 15%, and making a college education far more attainable for the poor. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that. You’re too busy complaining that you’re not paying attention to a movement that could actually help you.

    By nature, the growing income gap hurts blacks the worst. We finally have a candidate sticking his neck out and saying what needs to be said. Is this registering with you?

    My cynical white friends are largely convinced that the black community is more concerned with “fighting” and tearing down “anything white” than they are in working, at least with those who can help them.

    Please prove them wrong.

  81. As a Seattleite, black woman, mother, BLM marcher & supporter, and Bernie Sanders supporter, I was horrified when I learned how these events unfolded. I believe in the movement, but these tactics with this politician is something I cannot get behind.

  82. So basically, the end justifies the means — any pragmatic behavior is justified if the outcome is desirable. The problem is returning to civility once one’s desired outcome is achieved. If there is no civility to begin with, there is no way back.

    While I believe in the principles of BLM, I do not wish to be painted with their broad brush of reform at the cost of civility. That reeks too much of, ‘You’re either for us or you’re against us.’ That was the foreign policy mantra of GW Bush. We all have to aim higher.

  83. Sounds like you’re making a lot of excuses and rationalizations for people who are jerks. Period. ~Just Sayin’

  84. have to say one thing with this– not all white privilege is the same— I may have had my own flip out with all this but I would not want to suggest that the urgency that those organizing around BLM isn’t justified or that in the face of what is happening that they shouldn’t feel compelled to act in disruptive ways and so on. But at the same time as someone in a household that has been through foreclosure years of un and underemployment, bullied out of a job and essentially my lifes work, victim of sexual assault- had to spend all retirement savings on survival– occasional recipient of nutrition assistance, gratefully making it thanks to home affordable, crushing student debt which I was perfectly willing and ready to begin making payments but because of moving and not getting a chance to update a forbearance status so now in default and every time I am employed I try and arrange to get out of default but they demand monthly payments that are more than my paycheck so tax returns and 25% of all income gets sucked out and applied to invented penalties- and my honey who I don’t even have the extra 70 bucks to get a licence to marry let alone have a modest ceremony with is about to start a new job but as usual only able to get through a temp agency so no benefits and pittance on the dollar that he actually receives and just hoping something changes because we have never been able to take a vacation together and I am afraid we are both going to die of stress and never be the loving secure and giving people we want to be for each other because I just can’t see a way out of this and so yeh I flip my lid when a candidate who is offering to advance changes that would make a difference for me and the only press he gets is because of his part in a statement by BLM that winds up being capitalized on by The well off whites for whom bernie is too much in ways that make the lack of coverage of his campaign seem even worse off than when the media was simply silent when it comes to getting his campaign out there for more african americans to get a real sense of his agenda and be able to consider him– Even though things where I think ultimately well handled and effective I still fear the response from sandars which is miles above and better than what anyone else would do and by anyone I mean not just hillary but Barack Obama when he was running. So Here is all I am asking As imperfect as I may be as a Black allie– I’m still not walking away — I try and listen and even when I don’t always understand I support a person being given a priority position when debating the issues that most effesct them– But when I go off and it seems like a contradiction of my espoused commitments as white progressive supposedly committed to racial justice and it seems like there is some hypocrisy–when I act on the urgency the possibly life and death urgency that I bring to this I expect to be extended some understanding — just as it is naive and racist to act as if well the laws have changed African americans have the same shot that everyone has for education and so on so too it is wrong for any of us to always be talking about white liberals or progressives as a monolith. Not all poor white people wave confederate flags and go gay bashing for weekend jollys once deer season ends. And not all of the progressive whites who flipped out over this are sitting around with their wine of the month delivery served up reading about this on their iphone and getting annoyed because their inner miss millie from the color purple got triggered. I do not expect African Americans to always peacefully protest nor that they must be angels for their deaths to be a source of horror outrage and a source of public shame and I do not expect that people of color always correctly direct and calibrate their expressions of anger and frustration so that a white person never receives the fall out for something he or she did not personally or willfully do– But when I am fighting for my life and someone of color looks like they are going to keep me from what could mean survival for me and I start screaming something along the lines of “what the fuck dude— I need this —- of all the things to try and rain down grief on why here why this” I hope that people can give what they have sought from me and get it- to understand that it is missing the point to characterize this as a lack of veracity of my conviction about the needs and wrongs faced by African Americans. Maybe for some white people who are not poor there is a moral wrong in bitching over something like this maybe they are rightfully expected to wait and listen but they need to listen to white poor people as well and not make our urgent effort to be afforded a chance at some basic dignity poo pooed or vilified or have people laughing over our looking to sanders to save the american dream and for clarification the american dream isn’t about vacation homes and privilege it’s a guarantee of equal protection and access to due process and some security that if you are willing to work and if you are educated and trained to offer talents and seek to do so that you wont have to live in fear of being homeless that you will be able to rest if you are tiered and if you are sick and that you can buy a new out fit once a year or maybe twice, that you can take your spouse home to meet your family before you or the family die, hell that maybe since he has worked all his life he could maybe take a couple years to go for schooling and classes and have a chance of working doing something he has a gift and passion for for a decade while he is still capable of that.
    In part I am commenting here because I thought you – more than most articles I have seen that are taking on the response to the protests of Sandars by BLM activists by many white progressives explaining why that is a problem— yours seemed straightforward and I think communicated on discrete points that people should consider about how they may be reacting in a way that I can imagine many other white people like myself hearing without shutting down. So while some of the vehemence of my post is really built up and responding to many things I have been encountering that are taking this whole issue on and frankly while often they are articles by Black americans they are being posted and forwarded my way by other more comfortable white progressives than myself and so there is an aspect of all of what I say that is best appreciated as spillage from the white progressive internal insider conversation which of course we are inclined to view as just the public and normative discourse. Where I would have appreciated you to apply a similar understanding as you argue in relation to the message of Black protesters is in describing their actions as ones that are about issues bigger than simply an election as it is for the white liberal progressives supporting bernie. People need called out on weak ass arguments that — oh the manner of their protest– was what upsets me because it is just disingenuous —- But the reason it is a week and misguided argument has two components that have to be taken to task one of which you do — namely that we should all be able to agree that when we are dealing with the injustices faced by black americans by the police, courts and correctional system in this country. But the other important reason that argument is a problem is it is sidestepping another big part of what fuels it which is as I have hopefully expressed — that for many of the white folk who have been trying to find a way to complain and go on the defensive in the face of all the publicity on this and ended up with stupid retorts and gripes to explain what we are bothered by is because many are angry about what happens to black americans and do not believe that the call to correct those injustices represent a conflict of interest with the struggle to make life better for those kept down because they are poor in a system that obstructs and nearly eliminates the opportunity for those who are poor to either get out of poverty or access the same rights and protections that are enjoyed buy those not so restrained by their lack of wealth and status privilege so when 2 people in seeking to argue for the first cause in a way that challenges the second just as it is difficult in sound bytes to work out how the 2 protesters are making a point that does not mean that Sandars shouldn’t win or should be thought racist and more so than Clinton so to soundbites and the immediate response that erupts for those of us for whom supporting sandars is so not about winning an election yet has so much at stake that depends on winning that election without those responses coming across as if they don’t appreciate the real need that is motivating those protesters. I think we are all many of us in these causes people traumatized by abuses and violations of our humanity and might look in this for a chance at gaining some assurance that in the struggle of Black americans against institutionalized racism where many are profoundly impacted by the realities of poverty and how class is inscribed and policed in America and the struggle of Those being crushed by the class and poverty problems in America for whom either because they are black or because of the way racism both imposes poverty and racializes how poverty is thought about and dealt with legally that we can have a raised voice screaming debate and find that we are still in the room after the fact still ready to take on not just the common enemy but the enemy of our companions in the struggle for dignity.

  85. Ljeoma, you’re kidding, right? “Black people in America have fared no better with Democrats than Republicans”. How about affirmative action, how about voter suppression? Where have you been?

  86. In reviewing op-ed, it occurs to me that the opening remark ‘the rally was to celebrate the 80th birthday of social security’ is key to why BLM got such negative press from their stunt. And when crowd began booing, and even calling for arrest of these ‘activists’ they should have gotten a clue that their stunt was not only not being well received but hurting their cause.
    And yes, I was one of the public who IMMEDIATELY wondered … WHY BLM would disrupt, and disrespect Bernie Sanders, who has decades long proven position of support of civil rights; … and IF there were ‘political forces’ at work (as I supporters of HRC – or even extremists from the right.)
    The justifications stated for ‘why Bernie Sanders” was targeted: Because ‘he’s the one accessible, and the one who ‘claims to be’ listening’ – really? I fail to see ANY logic in those ‘justifications’ at all. There is a difference between ‘welcoming words’ (of another) and tolerating their disrespect of you. And if BLM supporters don’t grasp that, I predict further loss of support for their ‘organization.’
    ‘The event wasn’t about BLM’ – so you DO acknowledge that – at least verbally. Again justification that ‘everything is about BLM” – hate to bust your bubble, but not everyone shares that viewpoint – and that is their right and prerogative. I personally am offended when I’ve seen ‘ALL lives matter’ comments to BLM memes on social media where BLM has replied “NO – this is about [only!] BLACK lives.” George Orwell’s Animal Farm comes to mind – where the farm animals rise to power and they then become the oppressors. Many of the BLM movement don’t hide their belief that their goal is not equality (for all) but black supremacy, with a total HATRED of whites – ALL whites.
    “Disruption and Riots” — Again – MLK and followers grasped that their actions needed to draw IN support, not ostracize. But…he didn’t stage a bus boycott in the north – but targeted major opponents in the south. Do you grasp the difference?

  87. Once again, IE has hijacked my computer – it somehow posted my comments before I was finished … so I’ll make another effort to continue my response/s.
    “You’re turning away people” – I think you’ve utilized too passive a description. I believe in and support racial justice and ending police brutality – and it’s totally inappropriate for you to say that because my approach is different than yours, that I don’t. The op-ed author has the temerity to say “You don’t have to approve of someone’s methods to support racial justice” but the AUTHOR is doing just that – and contradicts her own opinion! IF we don’t approve of and support BLM’s tactics and stunts we aren’t ‘true believers.’ But IF BLM is committed to EQUALITY, where was their outrage over the man from INDIA, who ended hospitalized, paralyzed from the police SLAMMING him into the sidewalk concrete? Where was their outrage over the deaf Native American whittler who was SHOT by Seattle police? Where was their outrage when the BLACK policeman shot a black immigrant in downtown L.A.? Yes, I know – “BLM” – but BLM apparently DON’T matter when they’re taken by other blacks. And BLM has made it abundantly clear they don’t believe ANY other lives matter. So no – I’m NOT going to support ANY organization that doesn’t support EQUALITY. And for the record, IMHO we have a bigger problem confronting us in this country: Police departments have become virtual para-military arms of the government that pays them. The prevailing attitude is ‘us vs. them’ and every non-law-enforcement person (citizen, resident, etc.) is perceived as “them.’ I don’t deny that blacks are targeted – but it’s becoming more widespread that EVERYONE is targeted, yes, even ‘whites.’
    “Sanders is your best chance.” Yes, he is. He is likely our ONLY chance to get this country back on track – on many more issues than BLM. Do you care about the FUTURE of this country? Do you care if we have social service programs? Planned Parenthood? We’re NOT going to have any reform if REP take the W.H. – and again, de-railing candidacy of THE candidate committed to reform isn’t the solution. I have recently wondered what slaves would say about current events. I reflect upon the slaves who pursued learning to read or write, despite the fact that they may have faced the penalty of death just for learning those basics. I reflect upon “12 Years a Slave” – who refused to indict the entire white race because of the actions of a few – and who still acknowledged there are good and bad (in every group and in every walk of life.) And I wonder what these people would think of today’s blacks who refuse to learn, despite being provided access to a free education. [And spare me, ‘inferior schools’ – the slaves had NO schools; many children in Africa have no where near what even ‘inferior schools’ in this country have.]
    “But Sanders marched with MLK” – so again, you opt to disrespect, and try to de-rail the campaign of the candidate with the decades long track-record of supporting your cause? That’s not just ignorant, that’s (to borrow an old adage) ‘shooting yourself in the foot’ – and if you want to sink your cause, that would be fine except that if you de-rail Sanders candidacy, you’ll eliminate the one candidate committed to real reform in this country – which will have a negative affect on many other people and causes – again, you see, it’s really NOT just about BLM. And yes, there ARE constraints within one’s position. As a senator, Sanders is one vote in that chamber. BLM could have more of an impact if it worked toward electing progressives (and getting the dangerous radical right out of office) – and that could only benefit ALL of us. In a position of journalist, you are limited by whatever audience you reach –
    “Aren’t racist conservatives the real enemy?” ‘The real enemy is the system of racial inequality and white supremacy.” Rhetoric, pure and simple; inflammatory rhetoric at that. I don’t grasp how ANYONE can say DEM’s are the same as REP’s. Civil rights movement of the 60’s would NOT have made the progress it did without JFK, and his A.G. brother RFK …. and the WHITES and other ‘non-blacks’ who rode with the Freedom Riders and marched with MLK. After assassination of JFK, LBJ picked up the mantle of civil rights and ensured further legislation was enacted. Who believes this would have happened if say, George Wallace, had been elected? Who believes if Donald Trump is elected that ANY people of color will ‘benefit’? [Except perhaps the millionaires/billionaires…]
    Finally – the assertion that ‘SEATTLE had a chance’ …. quite simply BLM blew it. And by choosing to use such insulting, derogatory tactics, I’d predict that most, if not all, candidates will shun BLM (‘members’ and organization.) Much more progress would have been possible if BLM had organized a rally and invited speaker/s. But given recent behaviors (including 2 stunts with Bernie Sanders) it’s not likely anyone of note would agree to be a speaker. So – BLM HAS lost support. And another way BLM loses support is the number of members that interpret ‘racial justice’ as being ONLY for ‘blacks’; the members who work ONLY for ‘black’ (and not ALL) lives; and further the members that work for black supremacy and overtly voice their hatred of all whites.
    No, I’m not going to support ANY racial group that promotes its supremacy over those of another race – that’s not ‘equality.’ I firmly believe we should ALL be appalled at EVERY Death that occurs at the hand of ‘the law.’ BLM does us ALL a disservice by its portrayal that ONLY blacks are mistreated, or killed, at the hands of law enforcement. BTW, I AM angry. But my anger is also directed at BLM – and I think I’ve already made clear why. Racists aren’t all white – they come in many colors.

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