Navigating the 'Racial Divide' of the 2016 Presidential Primaries

The sudden death of Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has added unique importance to the voter turn out among African-American voters in the Democratic presidential primaries. In an earlier tweet about a week ago, I said there were three key words that African-American primary voters should keep in mind when they are considering for whom to vote.

This was my way of reminding potential voters of how important it is for them to ACTUALLY vote in their respective primary voting States. Before the unexpected death of Justice Scalia. I wanted to remind the readers of my blog and tweets that say that whoever the next president is, he will likely have the opportunity to appoint at least one Associate Justice to the Supreme Court. Such an appointment could have a generational impact on political, economic, cultural, criminal justice and health care opportunities, and opportunities for cost effective education for our children.

Because of the chronological scheduling of the next primaries, the African-American and Latino vote in Nevada and South Carolina in the Democratic Party could be decisive in determining who will the Democratic Party's the nominee for President.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign understands the importance of the Black primary voter as a potential "firewall" against a Sanders primary victory, or even a close second place finish. Their strategy appears to be to defeat Senator Sanders decisively in South Carolina and defeat him in Nevada, among that State's large number of Latino voters.

The Clinton campaign seeks to portray Sanders as an "outsider," someone "who has not been with or supported the agendas of African-American communities in the past". Thus we have the very calculated and premeditated effort on the part of the Clinton campaign to portray Sanders as a person who has not been vocal and/or visible in the recent past about important issues affecting the lives of African-Americans.

One recent news clip showed Sanders speaking to an audience of several African-Americans, being challenged by an African-American person for not using or speaking the word "black" or "blacks" often enough, during the course of his remarks when he used the words "African-Americans" instead.

Attention to things like this trivializes and obscures the magnitude of major issues affecting the lives of African-Americans, 24/7: Continued disproportionate incarceration of black men for committing the same crime committed by white men, whose sentences are significantly less. Black children having four times the rate of suspension at schools than white kids for the same infractions, creating the basis for subsequent criminal law violations leading to early incarceration of black men, but no incarceration of white men for the violation of the same criminal law.

As I have written in a previous blog, there is a texture and sound of "paternalism" in the repetitive theme from the Clinton campaign which says: "We know you better than that white man from Vermont;" "We have been with you in the past;" You know us;" so, "We deserve your vote," and "expect you to stand with us now because of all that we have done for or on your behalf in the past."

The most challenging question is whether everything the Clinton campaign says it has done or proposes to do on behalf of African-Americans in 2016 can be really be done effectively based on the same institutional structures and political programs of the past.

In a word: No. No matter how sincere the Clinton campaign is in describing what they SAY they will do if elected, can they in fact do it within and based on the same paradigms of the use of political power to address the URGENT problems confronting African-American communities TODAY... not during years of the past Civil Rights Movement?

Finally, if Sanders' entitlement or eligibility for the support of black primary voters depends upon whether he agrees with a program of "Reparations" for today's African-Americans, as a form of redress for the institution of slavery's consequences upon subsequent generations of the current descendants of slaves, this is setting a "high bar" of qualification for today's Black primary voter.

Reparations is an APPROPRIATE question to ask of Sanders AND Clinton, if when asked, the questioner has a specific "reparations proposal" they would like for the candidates to respond to. Otherwise, it is only primary election "grandstanding."