NO, It’s Not Okay For Bernie Sanders To Call Us N*ggers To Make a Point About Racism

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I have had loads of white people telling me how cruel I am to smear Bernie, and how much evil I’ve done by tweeting a screenshot of what he said.

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“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all
the time.”
― James Baldwin

I have sinned against Bernie, erred, blasphemed, and been rate limited several times this week. I’d like to say none of this is my fault, because it’s not, but the Berners at the gates will simply not stand for my cries of innocence.What did I do that was soooooo wrong?

For the past few days my time on social media has been filled with Cheltenham Tragedies of the whitest and most wretched sort. Men and women of all ages have appeared on my digital doorstep wailing and gnashing their teeth, moaning and groaning fit to beat the band, falling on fainting couches with vinaigrette in hand, and searching against all hope for my manager or supervisor, hell, maybe even the police, to shut me the entire fuck up now, please.

What could I possibly have done to stir up so many emotions in so many white people so rapidly? Were they all going to die from my boring little tweets? Is it true that I am the singular cause of Democrats losing the election next year? How did I obtain this mighty power, and how can I give it back?

How does an obscure Blogger with an even more obscure Twitter account manage to cause mayhem, lost elections, death, hell, and destruction on such a mass scale?

So many of my legitimate questions went unanswered by the “Swarms of Doom” that are at this very minute circling my Twitter page, ready to tell me to shut up the second I tweet another tweet. No matter how many times I explain myself, they are determined to be indefatigably enraged.

My crime?

I posted videos of Bernie Sanders saying things, and the world may end because of it.

Why can’t I be nice and just stop disagreeing and smearing Bernie by posting video of him saying shit he said?

Because, I am a MONSTER.

And I am once again bullying the entire Revolution singlehandedly.

Y’all better get in on this before Super Tuesday.


 

I’ll skip the pleasantries and get right to the point.

Nigger.

I despise this word with every cell in my body, my hate for it can never die.

One word; it has a mere six letters, yet contained within that label is the destruction of an entire race of humans. This is how our society has been able to “other” us, dismiss us, abuse us, oppress us, and discard us when we are no longer useful. Over the centuries of us being called Niggers, various attempts were made by us to find a way to ease the heavy burden this label carries with it. We have tried to be respectable, so as to fly under the radar, just to perhaps not be seen as “one of the bad ones.” We have tried to reclaim it and wear it with humor and pride, as Richard Pryor attempted through his comedy, and many rappers have done through their music. Many times, we have called each other that detestable word for various reasons. One being, to desensitize each other lest we be called that in public, lose our minds on some unsuspecting white racist, and end up in prison. We have also used it to show affection, kinship, and even to show racial solidarity.

Making it a term of affection seemed to be working for a while, but as I look back, I can see that “reclaiming”  and “owning” the word did not increase unity, it did not help us rise up, and really, it may have simply held us back. I constantly see attempts made to justify its use for a plethora of reasons; “Black people use it, so it must be okay”, “Free Speech”, and my all time favorite, “We only used the word nigger to help you fight racism.” Gee thanks, buddy. Fuck off.

At some point Black People accepted the idea that it was permissible to associate us with a slur meant to reduce us down to property; we willingly tied that label around our necks ourselves, we accepted ourselves as N*ggers. Just as Whites had centuries before. But guess what?

We are not Niggers.

We never were.

We never will be.

Bernie Sanders called black people “Niggers” in a book he wrote back in 1997, and when he re-printed it a few years ago; even then, he left the Niggers right where he had originally placed them. While most people had moved on from being desperate to use that word, Bernie was stuck in a past where White men like him made all of the decisions on what was appropriate and what was not. Unfortunately for him, that decision was never really his to make.

Mediaite:

In the portion that the site quoted, Sanders wrote “For a hundred years, the white workers of the South were the most exploited white workers in America. They were paid the lowest wages, they endured the worst working conditions, their housing was abysmal, their kids went to the most backward schools, and very few could send their children to college. But what did they have? They were given ‘niggers’ to hate and look down on, ‘niggers’ who couldn’t vote, drink at their water fountains, use the same bathrooms, or sit up front in the buses or movie theaters.”

This was written in 1997. In 1997, no white person I knew, unless racist, was even willing to type the word out, let alone publish a work containing that word. Yet when Bernie Sanders was found to have used it in his book in 1997, and again in 2015, people found that the use of quotation marks had suddenly become a “free pass” to using dehumanizing terms, especially if one says they are fighting racism. Racial slurs, apparently, become instantly acceptable if you’re using them to make a point about racism. Make that make sense. Because what anti-racist does not call Black PEOPLE “Niggers” in order to show their solidarity?

I have had loads of white people telling me how cruel I am to smear Bernie, and how much evil I’ve done by tweeting a screenshot of what he said. They say that I am hateful for refusing to accept that we need to be dehumanized, and stupid for saying Sanders has no right to turn our dehumanization into a literary device, and us into mere objects. Especially not in order to sympathize with the racists among the White Working Class. That he should apologize for using us in this way, like props, or mascots is a given. That he and his camp should stop defending shit like this and learn something from the experience, that is just a wish.

Bernie’s defenders are always ready with the weakness.

From Mediaite:

“It should not need to be explained that critiquing racism is not racism, but let’s give it a try. Senator Sanders is describing the well-documented racism and hatred that was used to divide the working class against itself in this country for hundreds of years. In fact, that entire chapter of the book is simply a recounting — and criticism — of the Republican strategy that was infamously described by GOP strategist Lee Atwater in 1981, which involved using racial bigotry and epithets to demonize people of color,” Sanders campaign spokeswoman Briahna Gray told the DCNF in an email.

“Senator Sanders was attacking that disgusting strategy and, of course, he would not use the word outside of this context. His entire political career has been dedicated to building a multi-racial coalition of working people to finally overturn the bloody legacy of racial hatred in our country,” Gray added.

Oh, Brie Brie, shut the fuck up. Nobody needs racial slurs to critique racism and you know it.

Do women need men to call us whores, bitches, and cunts (for our own good) as they White Knight in our names, and challenge misogyny?

Is it wise, necessary, or even appropriate to call Jews “k*kes” to illustrate how their oppression manifested?

Are we calling Gay men “f*gg*ts” to help them fight the barriers they face in a hetero-normative world?

Of course not. We would never use the attacks, labels, or slurs of the oppressor in order to defend the oppressed.

Senator Sanders doesn’t need to call  us Niggers to make his points. He chose to. Many do not.

 

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
~
LYNDON B. JOHNSON, 1960, remark to Bill Moyers, “What a Real President Was Like,” Washington Post, 13 November 1988

Even though he was Good Ol Boy personified, LBJ’s racist ass knew how to survive without “N*gger,” eventually. Notice how in 1960, even LBJ managed to call us colored instead of Niggers, which apparently is an amazing feat of strength. He honestly makes it look so easy to not use any racial slurs whatsoever.

My opposition to the use of this particular slur is the same opposition James Baldwin had over 50 years ago. We are not Niggers, we have never BEEN anything other than men and women, We are not literary devices, we are not pawns, or objects to be used to prove a point. There are no subhuman beasts among us. We remain human until the next time a White Man wants to be edgy in his critique of racism. We remain human until we encounter someone who continues the tradition of stripping us down to the point of dehumanization, robbing us of our human identity, and reducing us to that despised word.

James Baldwin via Los Angeles Times:

“What white people have to do is try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place, because I’m not a nigger,” he said. “I’m a man, but if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it… If I’m not a nigger and you invented him — you, the white people, invented him — then you’ve got to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that, whether or not it’s able to ask that question.”

Why was it necessary to have a N*gger in the story, Bernie?

Why can’t we be people too?

A racist white man hates a Black Man just as much as he hates a N*gger.

Whatever the fuck a “n*gger” even is.

I am not a N*gger.

I will never be a N*gger.

I never WAS a n*gger.

N*ggers don’t even exist.

 

 

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Mediaite

LA Times

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King Beauregard
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King Beauregard

I was going to comment that of course Bernie feels justified in using a racist word in service to his economic agenda, because in all matters, he feels his economic agenda is important while racial justice is not. But as you point out, it’s even worse than that: Bernie used the word to argue that racists aren’t culpable for their own racism. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it.

Lisa Palmer
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Lisa Palmer

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