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Sanders writes: "Americans owe many of our freedoms to those who put their lives on the line for racial equality: people like Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers and Daisy Bates. But a racial wealth gap of 10 to 1 exists between white and black Americans, and that gap, along with the effects of racism, fuels disparities in areas ranging from health care to housing and from college debt to criminal sentencing."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during the National Education Association Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum last week in Houston. (photo: David J. Phillip/AP)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during the National Education Association Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum last week in Houston. (photo: David J. Phillip/AP)


The Straightest Path to Racial Equality Is Through the One Percent

By Bernie Sanders, The Washington Post

12 July 19

 

mericans owe many of our freedoms to those who put their lives on the line for racial equality: people like Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers and Daisy Bates. But a racial wealth gap of 10 to 1 exists between white and black Americans, and that gap, along with the effects of racism, fuels disparities in areas ranging from health care to housing and from college debt to criminal sentencing.

Many black Americans are disillusioned about politicians who champion the organizing power of black women when it’s time to turn out the vote but neglect their needs between election cycles. They are tired of politicians offering meaningful yet inadequate reforms — kicking the can of progress down the road instead of using their political capital to fight for reforms that current generations desperately need.

They’re tired of coming in second to groups that hold the power of the purse or the might of demographic majority. And they’ve said enough is enough: The status quo is simply insufficient.

I couldn’t agree more.

Structural problems require structural solutions, and promises of mere “access” have never guaranteed black Americans equality in this country. Sixty-five years after Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, education has remained separate and unequal. “Access” to health care is an empty promise when you can’t afford high premiums, co-pays or deductibles. And an “opportunity” for an equal education is an opportunity in name only when you can’t afford to live in a good school district or to pay college tuition.

Jobs, health care, criminal justice and education are linked, and progress will not be made unless we address the economic systems that oppress Americans at their root. As Princeton’s Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor recently argued, “There is no race without class in this country.” Yet most politicians won’t acknowledge the role that our economic system plays in maintaining racial inequality.

Example after example shows that corporate exploitation disproportionately affects black people. Black Americans lost 40 percent of their wealth in the 2009 housing crisis, and were the target of predatory lenders. Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to be paid a minimum wage salary, and black Americans stand to benefit disproportionately from a $15 an hour federal minimum wage.

Walmart is the largest private employer of African Americans in the country — 42 percent of its associates are black. And it pays its employees below a living wage — even while the Walton family owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. Former vice president Joe Biden recently said, “I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason why we’re in trouble.” I respectfully disagree. It is my view that any presidential candidate who claims to believe that black lives matter has to take on the institutions that have continually exploited black lives.

The racial wealth gap lingers in part because the politicians who could close it are funded by the very corporate donors who continue to benefit from it. Gross inequality persists largely unchallenged despite the United States’ massive wealth because myths about racial inferiority and the “undeserving poor” justify the worst effects of unfettered capitalism. As long as corporations can rely on the indifference to black lives as a cover for their exploitation, they will continue to do so.

Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, argues powerfully that corporations play a central role in “sustaining, or worsening, the forces of racism in America,” whether by advancing racist stereotypes, sponsoring voter suppression or exploiting low-wage workers who are disproportionately black and brown. And he’s right.

The unfortunate truth is that politicians who take checks from millionaires and billionaires owe their corporate constituents first, and everyday Americans last. The black-white wealth gap could be closed by targeting the extreme wealth at the very top. Instead, politicians beholden to the one percent ask the black middle class and the white middle class to fight over scraps. I’m proud that our campaign is fueled by more small-dollar donations than any other — more of our donors work at Walmart than any other company. Our willingness to take on powerful special interests as we fight for universal health care and a living wage — instead of the private prison industry and tax breaks for the rich — is a direct consequence of my campaign’s financial independence.

The straightest path to racial equality is through the one percent. A system where we don’t address both racial and economic disparity is a system in which some people, especially African Americans, are going to be left behind. We should not be swayed by those who would try to force us to choose one over the other.

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+19 # Robbee 2019-07-12 18:07
america? are you listening?

The Straightest Path to Racial Equality Is Through the One Percent
By Bernie Sanders, The Washington Post
12 July 19

- the black-white wealth gap is 10 to 1?

so what?

the point-one percent wealth gap is 1,000,000,000,0 00 to 1

if, as bernie and elizabeth propose, we harness some of that grotesque wealth, everyone in america could achieve their full potential!
 
 
+1 # Cat Mom 2019-07-13 16:30
Yes, many of us have said that for years. However, the specifics of black exploitation are such a blot on our history and the direct secondary results of this cost lives, so at some point it is more than appropriate to focus for a while on the Wall Street/black issue. Prisons? Crime in any poor 'hood with disproportionat e members of our society in poor black communities?
 
 
+8 # Robbee 2019-07-12 18:09
ps - a small fraction of that wealth!
 
 
+3 # chrisconno 2019-07-12 21:09
We so need a Progressive party. Bernie genuinely speaks volumes to power and we the people need to listen. I have yet to read or hear anything Bernie Sanders says that hasn't moved me to hopefulness. He is so right for us. I am contributing again now.
 
 
+5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-07-13 06:46
This is really good. Race and class are deeply woven. White people have created political and economic structures that keep African Americans in a permanent under-class status. As we all know, the existence of an upper class is supported by the existence of an under class. African Americans do the work but white Americans take the profits. That's how capitalism works. That is what it is -- profiting from the labor of others.

WalMart is a good example but the problem is systemic.

It will take heroic efforts to unweave the connection of race and class. But this is the Age of Sangers. He is setting the nation's agenda. This is the time.
 
 
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-07-13 12:07
meant to write -- Age of Sanders.

For some reason Sanders has his finger on all the right issues. I disagree with him on somethings, but he is by far the best national politician in a very long time.
 
 
+3 # Cat Mom 2019-07-13 16:32
I agree with a lot of Bernie's policies and admire much of his career also. Still I wonder if you have forgotten to look at the record and campaign of Elizabeth Warren when you use superlatives. Jay Inslee and Julian Castro aren't chopped meat either.
 
 
+6 # DongiC 2019-07-13 12:59
Sanders represents justice and fair play. He would make a magnificent president. His past performance as mayor and senator makes this point eminently clear.
 

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