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Dear Bernie Sanders and White Progressives, We Need To Talk

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In an excerpt of an AfroPunk post, an author alleges that Bernie Sanders is “confused as hell.” Unable to call racism by its name, they lament that progressives like Bernie are ignorant and complicit in its propagation.

As a Black woman who lives in Vermont, a state that is 94% white and credited as one of the most liberal in the country, let me explain. Progressives are unable to acknowledge racism because they are unable to identify it in the same way a person of color does. They are so blissfully unaware of the nuances and prejudices and so willing to compartmentalize their own behavior that attaching the word racism to it is unthinkable. What I mean is, their white fragility prevents them from being able to see racism in any form, discuss it, and/or attack it.

What does it mean to be white

The manner White progressives are taught to identify racism is almost storybook – clear lines of good and evil. Their understanding of racism is a clear act of intentional antagonism or discrimination directed toward someone of a different race on the grounds of superiority. To Robin DiAngelo, the woman who coined the phrase “White Fragility”, to be progressive meant to be clueless.

“Well, I was a classic white progressive, which meant that I was clueless about racism, which meant I could not answer the question, “What does it mean to be white?” I thought I was not racist, and I really didn’t have anything more to learn.”

In an interview with Slate, DiAngelo goes on to recall applying for a job as a diversity trainer. “I was in for the most profound learning curve of my life,” she says. “It was a parallel process. One, working side by side with people of color who were challenging the way that I saw the world and my place in it.”

Consider in all of this, that white people are self-segregating and have been since the 60s. Like DiAngelo, they are not finding themselves surrounded by people of color who will disrupt their way of thinking until they reach an embarrassing age.

“Part of being white is that I could be that far in life, be a full professional, educated adult, and never have had my racial role be challenged in general, or by people of color in particular.”

Self-Segregating

White liberals are curiously guilty of saying one thing and doing another. Take gentrification. University of Illinois sociologist, Maria Krysan, conducted an experiment in Chicago to examine the process of how people decide where to live. She asked Chicago-area residents about their housing search and people of all races agreed they wanted to live somewhere that was relatively diverse and integrated.

Housing Survey Results

Debunking the myth that Blacks and Latinos prefer to stay in their own neighborhoods, Krysan proves that it is Whites who cry for diversity but remain segregated. Remember, Vermont is 94% White but 46 states have a White population of 50% or higher.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Bernie was asked his thoughts on why the Democratic Party was unable to win several key Senate and gubernatorial races. But it was his thoughts concerning the underperformance of Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum that got attention.

“I think you know that there are a lot of white folks out there who are not necessarily racist who felt uncomfortable for the first time in their lives about whether or not they wanted to vote for an African-American.”

While his response reeks of white fragility, its true. White people are losing the luxury of undifferentiated whiteness and racial obliviousness, forcing them to examine themselves and their communities. In “Get Out”, it was a family of Obama supporting White liberals who were villains, not red hat wearing, torch burning misogynists.

Relation of White Fragility to Cognitive Dissonance

Relation of White Fragility to Cognitive Dissonance

By definition, white fragility is the state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. Spanning fear, anger, and guilt, the display can include behaviors of argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.

Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jane Elliott conducted a race experiment that challenged people to examine their underlying prejudices to disarm them of weaponizing race. By simulating discrimination on people who would otherwise never experience it, Jane educates people who would continue to think like Robin DiAngelo in all her white ignorance. The problem is that she is just one woman, and while her efforts are well-meaning, it requires the person on the other end to be receptive of change. Cognitive dissonance and white fragility are in a marriage that has lasted longer than either terms have had names. And we have seen what happens when we leave White women to their own devices.

If we are invested in a progressive future, where POC, LGBT, and differently abled people are represented, we must commit to attacking bias in the moment. We cannot, like white progressives, stand by and massage reality about what is and is not racist to placate people on the fence. White progressives need to start working, living, and socializing in communities that challenge their school of thought instead of reinforcing the dogma they’ve been fed for generations. But their education cannot and will not come at the expense of the disenfranchised. #NotYourMule

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Ilhan Omar Calls Out AIPAC to Mixed Criticism

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Ilhan Omar

Representatives who were silent as Charlottesville Nazi’s were called “fine people” are having no difficulty raising their voices to condemn Ilhan Omar as an anti-Semite. I wonder why.

Speaking out about the influence of money from Israel on congressional support, Minnesota’s Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar criticized human rights violations toward Palestinians. She has been a vocal opponent of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, territories which were originally allotted to the Arab state in 1947. However, comments made at a bookstore are what sparked the current wave of outrage that conservative pundits are using to push Islamophobia under the guise of defending Israeli-American relations.

Dangerous Ideologies

February 27th, Omar said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” This drew comparisons to an anti-Semitic trope that implies that Jewish citizens of any country will forever be more loyal to Israel than where they reside. These recent remarks, conservatives and centrist democrats have resorted to taking her tweets, which point out the problematic role of lobbyists, out of context to present a narrative that Ilhan is an anti-Semite. While Ilhan Omar has acknowledged that her language was offensive to some, she affirms that “whether it be AIPAC, the NRA, or the fossil fuel industry,” her views regarding their controversial contributions remain unchanged.

Those who openly refused to take on the President for his problematic language have jumped at the opportunity to condemn Ilhan Omar for her comments. However, they weren’t all on the same page when it came to a resolution that would effect their speech as well. Thursday, the House passed a resolution condemning both anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination, but 23 Republicans voted against the change.

Progress

Democrats and Independents voted in favor of condemning anti-Muslim bigotry for the first time in our nation’s history. While many were reluctant to defend the young Representative, four Presidential hopefuls stood by Omar amid the harsh criticism for her opinions on the Israeli government. Senator Bernie Sanders stated that backlash from Omar’s comments were “aimed at stopping a discussion about American’s foreign policy toward Israel.” He added that what he feared was happening was “an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate.” Senator Kamala Harris chimed in with her own concerns and shared a brief statement:

We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially as we see a spike in hate crimes in America.”

Blood on the House Floor

As one of the first Muslims elected to Congress, she has been marked as a target by conservatives looking to eject her from politics altogether. One racist act, of particular note, resulted in a resignation and left one person injured.

In West Virginia, a physical fight broke out within Charleston’s Capitol building that spilled into the chamber of the House of Delegates. The fight began with an image connecting Ilhan to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Speaking out to condemn the poster, Mike Pushkin, who is Jewish, commented that “In 1933 in Berlin, they might have had a similar poster about somebody like me.” Asking Republican Congressmen to stand with him in condemnation, Pushkin told the Washington Post “not a single Republican elected official in this building could join me in saying it’s wrong.” Pushkin said he was met with Republicans who spoke about the First Amendment instead.

Despite the criticism that Omar is facing, little has been said directly to Republicans who are abusing this controversy as an opportunity to air their prejudices. The division in our current government has made it apparent that there is immeasurable room for growth when it comes to addressing the right-wing administration of Netanyahu, liberty for Palestinians, and denouncing hate speech across Semitic and Islamic lines. As the first term of Trump’s administration comes to a close and with Congressional elections approaching, we must continue to work toward a future that sets us on a path of progression.

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Paul Manafort Sentenced to 47 months in Prison

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Paul Manafort

Former Trump presidential campaign chairman and political consultant Paul Manafort has recently been sentenced for financial fraud. This conviction is the first of two cases levied against him.

As a result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Paul Manafort has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison. His sentence is a far cry from the 19- to – 24 year prison term that was expected. According to the New York Times, Judge T.S. Ellis III of Alexandria, VA., gave Manafort such a light punishment because the guidelines were deemed too harsh.

Manafort plead for mercy before receiving his judgment. Members of Mueller’s prosecution team did not seek a specific sentence in the case. Still, Manafort received the harshest judgment out of the six former Trump employees to be prosecuted by Mueller.

Judge Ellis’ sentence has received much criticism from legal experts. While lighter sentencing is common in white-collar cases, the drop from 19 years to less than four has disappointed many onlookers of this high-profile case.

Defense attorney’s presumably swayed Judge Ellis into a lighter sentencing due to Manafort’s age. He is nearly 70 years old and has significant health issues. On top of time in prison, Manafort is expected to pay $25 million in restitution along with a $50,000 fine. Judge Ellis is crediting Manafort for nine months of time served, which means the convict could be out in roughly 3 years.

Other Trump advisers who have been sentenced include:

  • Michael Cohen – Sentenced to 3 years in prison
  • George Papadopolous – Sentenced to 14 days in prison
  • Alex van der Zwaan – Sentenced to 30 days in prison
  • Richard Pinedo – Sentenced to 6 months in prison

Trump advisers who have pleaded guilty or have been charged include:

  • Michael T. Flynn – Pleaded Guilty
  • Rick Gates – Pleaded Guilty
  • Roger Stone – Charged
  • Konstantin V. Kilimnik – Charged
  • Twelve Russian Intelligence Officers – Charged
  • Thirteen Russian Nationals – Charged

As a result of Mueller’s investigation, five additional parties faced charges due to inquiries that branched off from the initial probe.

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Cohen Airs Out Trump in Congress Testimony

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Michael Cohen Trump Testimony

Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hiil and bared the truth of Trump’s misdeeds, singing songs of the atrocities of Trump’s Administration.

The former personal lawyer for President Donald Trump admitted much to Congress during his testimony, quickly earning him personal attacks from disappointed fellow Republicans. Among his admissions, Cohen called Trump “a racist, a conman, and a cheat,” which many of us had known long before he hit the Oval Office. Although bits of his testimony were considered “not fake news, but old news”, Cohen did share some startling information.

Multiple Investigations

Donald Trump and Michael Cohen are under investigation by the Southern District of New York. Cohen’s revelation prevented him from answering certain questions as the investigation in New York is ongoing. Cohen was asked multiple times about records he refused to provide to Congress, which he says were obtained during the raid of his home last fall. When asked if he had continued contact with Donald Trump, Cohen said yes, but withheld details. Two months after the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s home, he spoke with Donald Trump, who he admits communicates in code.

Convicted Russian Mobsters on Payroll

In addition to revealing he purposefully wrote NDA’s to prevent people from coming forward with claims of wrongdoing, Cohen revealed a business relationship between Trump and Felix Sater. Sater is a convicted Russian mobster who was a real estate developer and former manager of the Bayrock Group, LLC. Sater listed himself as a Senior Advisor to Trump on business cards and held contracts with the President where he was paid through Michael Cohen. Bank records, which Cohen alleges were in boxes that were in his raided home and office, indicate payments to Sater’s company, AROC.

This brought a represetative to ask Cohen if he believed the Trump presidency ever stopped being about money. Cohen said yes, but it only stopped when he became president. Now, Cohen says Trump’s goal is autocracy. During his testimony, Cohen said, “he’s sending the message that this is his county; he’s becoming an autocrat.” Autocracy is the system of government with one person with absolute power, where while not officially, Putin has been operating Russia as such.

The testimony yet in progress, Cohen is still being grilled about his complicity in a corrupt campaign and administration.

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