Reprinted From Reader Supported News
We must pursue policies that transform this country into a nation that affirms the value of its people of color. That starts with addressing the four central types of violence waged against black and brown Americans: physical, political, legal and economic.
That is the opening paragraph of Bernie Sanders' new Racial Justice platform. What follows is a very ambitious plan to end the violence of racism in all of its forms.
Senator Sanders has had two of his speeches interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters. The first was at Netroots Nation, a progressive conference in Phoenix, Arizona, a few days after the death of Sandra Bland. The second was at an event in Seattle celebrating the anniversary of Social Security and Medicare. That protest fell one year after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. In the days that followed you would have thought that Black Lives Matter was singling out Bernie Sanders, which was not the case.
Daunasia Yancey, who met with Hillary Clinton, told Democracy Now! "Well, every presidential candidate should expect to hear from us and expect to be held accountable. It's actually a practice called 'power mapping,' where it's similar to lobbying, where you actually map who's closest to you on the issue and go to those folks first in order to force them to articulate their stance and then hold them accountable to it. So this movement is very strategic, and that's what we've been doing."
Many Sanders supporters were angry that the long time civil rights activist was targeted by the protests, but Bernie's new national press secretary, Symone Sanders, told RSN that "This campaign is about everyone. In Portland, I encouraged supporters to respond with the chant of 'we stand together' as opposed to attacking the protesters. As I stated before, the issues the activists and protesters are raising are important issues. We should not overlook that."
Symone Sanders is a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and a young black criminal-justice advocate. She is the national youth chair of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. Sanders met Bernie Sanders three weeks before the Seattle protest and was brought in to give advice to the senator on how to more effectively reach out to the Black Lives Matter movement. After Symone gave Bernie advice he offered her a job, and she has become an important face of his campaign. When 15,000 people gathered in Seattle a few hours after the Black Lives Matter protest, Symone introduced Bernie, making a spirited case that Bernie would be the candidate that would "turn words into action."
When I asked Symone Sanders why she has committed to the Bernie Sanders campaign, she told me: "There is no candidate for president who will be stronger in fighting against institutional racism and reforming our broken criminal justice system than Senator Sanders. The senator believes we need real change, such as doing away with the militarization of our police departments, investing in education and jobs for our young people as opposed to jails and incarceration, and ending unjust mandatory minimums as well as the death penalty."
Symone Sanders went on to say, "The senator believes the issues Black Lives Matter activists are raising are important issues. Like the Black Lives Matter activists, the senator believes we need real changes, and no candidate for president will be stronger in the fight for those changes than he will." Symone also believes the platform has been well received: "Activists have stated the violence framing in our platform is powerful."
Some may disagree with the tactics used to push Bernie Sanders but the result has been effective. The senator will be meeting soon with a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement after an exchange on twitter.
"We must commit ourselves to a multi-racial, political revolution that fights for social justice, racial justice, and economic justice. Whether we are talking about advocating for workers' right to form unions, jobs for our kids, fighting institutional racism, quality and affordable education for people who work hard, humane community-based policing, comprehensive immigration reform, or ending Citizens United and getting big money out of politics ... Senator Sanders is the candidate who, with our support, will bring the transformative change -- the political revolution -- that this country needs."