No doubt about it, there’s a conflict between interests here. Black Lives Matter, the group bringing attention to the slaughter of innocent Black lives and systemic racism in America has a point: The problems persist and the major candidates aren’t adequately addressing them. But so, too, are they attacking the wrong candidate: Bernie Sanders has been a staunch ally in the fight for Civil Rights and a champion against bigotry and racism.
So I am conflicted.
On Saturday, two women who said they represented Black Lives Matter in Seattle took over the podium at an event in which Bernie Sanders was about to speak. After being allowed their time to address the crowd, they then wanted to confront Bernie Sanders over their issues. Attendees at the event who were there to hear Bernie Sanders booed the Black Lives Matter protesters. Bernie Sanders left the stage and went into the crowd to greet attendees. No one got what they came to the event for.
So this begs the question: What good did the protest do? More than anything, it alienated the people at the event. Of course, it engaged the whole nation in a debate, but the debate wasn’t over whether the candidates are addressing the issues Black Lives Matter find important so much as was Black Lives Matters right in grabbing control of the podium and then, when they were allotted some time at the podium, confronting Bernie Sanders and then not allowing him to address the crowd?
Black Lives Matters has legitimate issues. Things aren’t getting any better and Black lives continue to be at risk. And it is time for all presidential candidates, especially Democrats, to address this issue in their campaigns.
But Bernie Sanders of all the candidates in the campaign isn’t the one to pick a fight with. He may look like the cranky old white guy you’re used to hearing call you names and yelling at you to get off his lawn and stop cheating on welfare, but he’s not that guy. He’s been there for you in the past and he will be there for you in the future. (Bernie Sander’s history on race issues.)
If Bernie Sanders and his campaign staff were smart, they would address this quickly and be the campaign that addresses this now. NOW! Not just to save themselves from the challenges of groups like Black Lives Matter from seizing the podium in the future, but because those groups have just cause on their side and Bernie Sanders is on their side already. It’s time that the right guy address the issues rightly.
Now let’s all get back on the same side of this issue instead of arguing over who is listening to whom. We all agree that Black lives matter and that it’s way past time to do something about it.
© 2015. Alan Eggleston. All Rights Reserved.