100 Black progressives put fire under the feet of Bernie Sanders last week when they released an open letter demanding that he speaks out against “self-identified Sanders supporters” engaging in racist and sexist online harassment.
In the letter, the collective states:
As Black leaders in this movement, we are calling on each other to keep reaching for each other, even when it gets hard, even when we disagree, even when we’re disappointed. We demand that the Sanders campaign unequivocally denounce the racism in its ranks, and issue a public statement separating themselves from these abhorrent attacks.
Shortly thereafter, Sanders responded via Tweet:
This campaign condemns racist bullying and harassment of any kind, in any space. We are building a multiracial movement for justice — that’s how we win the White House
This campaign condemns racist bullying and harassment of any kind, in any space. We are building a multiracial movement for justice — that’s how we win the White House.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 19, 2019
Black surrogate, Nina Turner followed suit in her post:
Anyone directing racist, sexist & otherwise personally derogatory tweets/messages towards @MauriceWFP or anyone on his team @WorkingFamilies is a coward and is not in alignment w/ @BernieSanders or our collective mission.
Anyone directing racist, sexist &otherwise personally derogatory tweets/messages towards @MauriceWFP or anyone on his team @WorkingFamilies is a coward and is not in alignment w/ @BernieSanders or our collective mission.
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) September 19, 2019
The demand letter came after Working Families Party leadership announced that they were subject to attacks by online users claiming to back the Sanders campaign.
“Uncle Tom,” “cunt,” and “go back to his slave masters” were some of the messages received by WFP staff after the progressive, grassroots political group announced that they will back Senator Elizabeth Warren in her run for presidency.
In 2016, WFP supported Sanders, but according to their tabulations, Warren won over 60 percent of the vote, including topping other Democratic nominees after “a three-month endorsement process in which tens of thousands participated in debate and discussion, online forums, house parties, and live Q&As.”
A contingency of WFP members challenged the results. One of the complaints was that the endorsement system that was different than 2016. Disgruntled WFP Sanders supporters alleged that the voting was rigged. As a result, the fallout ended up splitting the party.
The internal turmoil turned nastier when increased attacks against its new leadership signified that progressives have issues in race and gender. Maurice Mitchell, an African American, and Nelini Stamp, identified as a “working-class person of color” in the demand letter, were harassed with language marking their non-white male identities.
For Sanders, this is not his first issue in dealing with racism. Political and communication strategist, Tezlyn Figaro who once served as National Director of Justice for the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign, told Ark Republic that she sued Sanders surrogate organization, Our Revolution, for her staunch African American advocacy.
In the interview, Figaro said “it’s well documented” with other staffers and even in news articles that Sanders failed to adequately address issues around race as it pertains to African Americans.
After the release of the demand letter, Figaro posted on her Twitter account:
Remember that time when I said that there was racism within the Sanders movement? I fought the fight alone. Well today 100 black progressive leaders fight fight against racism within the Sanders movement. I never needed 100 to stand with me just 1 God.
Since the kerfuffle, polls in Iowa show Warren as the lead with Sanders in third. The Sanders campaign replaced state director, Joe Caiazzo with Shannon Jackson.
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