I'm a middle class, white guy!
Who am I to suggest who you should vote for in the Presidential primaries? But because I feel this election is so important I want to share some thoughts with you.
I'm pretty informed of the blatant injustices that minorities face on a daily basis. I also know it's very different than living them.
This was brought home to me on a personal level when I was talking with a former student.
I bumped into him on the street when he was twenty-five. We got to talking about prejudice and he mentioned how much frustration he had DWB. I knew what he meant but was surprised to hear how often he was being subjected to this blatant racism.
One of my ex-student's and a close friend grew up very poor, has always worked, raised three children on her own, is a phenomenal mother and lhas always iived paycheck to paycheck. With all her hard work she should be living in her own home, not making monthly rent payments that will never allow her to achieve economic independence.
She is the victim of a cycle of poverty that is racist, inexcusable, and totally reversible.
I recall a discussion I had with the sister of singer Bill Withers. We taught together. I remember her anger when people would refer to our students as being culturally deprived.
"We've got our own culture. Plenty of it. Who are they to say we don't." She was talking about educators and activists who were referring to families that were educationally and economically suffering.
Sometimes even the most well meaning people express themselves poorly and don't quite get it. But at least their hearts are in the right place.
2016 may be one of the most important election years in our country's history.
I believe the current crop of Republican politicians are a menace to the future of our nation. They are more interested in keeping their party in power then helping the people they were elected to represent.
On the Democratic side I see a different narrative unfolding. There are two candidates who both clearly care about the needs and concerns of all citizens. They are both white and their message should appeal to everyone regardless of color or background.
When they speak it may seem as if they are making an assumption that all African Americans are poor, under educated and in need of assistance. They don't believe this. However, they are often talking to crowds that share common concerns and they try to address these.
Certainly all people of color do not vote for the same candidates. However there is no question (historically) that members of minority communities as individuals often tend to vote for a particualr individual or party.
The bottom line is that the system has been broken for years, the cycle of poverty still exists and there's lots of overt prejudice negatively impacting the lives of people of color.
I'm writing from a biased viewpoint. I have an agenda. It's my belief that Hillary Clinton will get the lion's share of the black vote and that she is not the best person to advance minority causes.
First a statement and then some questions.
The Clintons and President Obama care about people of color and have done their best to improve quality of life for everyone. But have they been truly effective?
People from all backgrounds are proud that America elected an African-American President. He's done amazing things despite incredible opposition. However, admitting that he hasn't been as effective as you'd like in some areas in no way diminishes his legacy.
But for it to continue, poor or underserved African Americans must remain on an upwardly mobile path that leads to sustained prosperity.
Now my questions. I hope you'll really give them careful consideration.
- Is your life significantly improved since Bill Clinton was President?
- Can you list three things about your life that are better since he was in office?
- How has your day to day life been improved during the Obama presidency?
- Are you working at a job with good pay and benefits or do you struggle to make ends meet?
- Has your housing situation improved?
- Are your children being given a fair shake at school?
- How would you rate their educational opportunity?
- Is your quality of life substantially better than 25 years ago?
If you feee there's a strong positive difference in your life then vote for the candidate you believe will keep things on track.
Hillary talks change in small steps. She claims to be a progressive who can get things done. Both Hillary and President Obama with the greatest of intentions work within the system.
Bernie Sanders wants to light a fire under the system. He believes that real change will only come with what he calls a "revolution."
He won't disassemble the government. He won't call for anarchy. He won't reverse all of President Obama's great policies. He will rework some. Even great ideas like health care need a bit of tinkering with until they run smoothly.
Bernie wants all citizens to become involved and fight the system. Everyone must participate. He knows a President cannot do it alone.
- He will overhaul police training and ensure departments are made up of people similar to the communities they represent.
- He will increase the minimum wage and guarantee everyone can make a decent living.
- He will invest in the country's infrastructure ensuring thousands of good paying jobs.
- He will provide medical care for all without cost prohibitive deductibles.
- He will revamp the criminal justice system and make certain prisons are not filled with young black men who often have been unfairly targeted and sentenced.
- He will go after the "fat cats" responsible for the mortgage crisis that resulted in so many home foreclosures.
- He will provide a free education from Pre-K through college.
Political revolutions can be made without violence. When you overhaul a system (without overthrowing it) you find new sources of income to pay for the priorities you have made. You defund fraudulent and wasteful programs. You re-allocate funds where they are most needed!
How have things turned out with Presidents Clinton and Obama? They've worked within the system. Have you seen the changes you hoped for?
If not consider taking a chance on creating something new.
- Imagine your children as proud citizens who are living the American Dream.
- Imagine knowing that they will never have to spend every day worried about bills, the refrigerator breaking down, affording new sneakers and jeans for the kids or how they will make the next rent payment.
- Imagine that instead of worrying about money, you and your family can dream about all you want to accomplish and know that you will be able to make it happen!
- Imagine a nation where the color of one's skin makes no difference to their chances for success in life!
If you think it will, hop on board. Bernie needs both your vote and your help.
Article first appeared on The Good Men Project