Recently I came across this Instagram post by an account ran by Kat Brezer, a Bernie Sanders supporter who ran for the New York Senate seat in 2018.
At first glance, I thought, "well isn't that sweet, Bernie isn't afraid to hire women." Then I wondered how many of these women happened to be black. Seemed like a legitimate question. So of course, me being me, I went ahead and posted my question under the comments.
"Quick question...how many of these women are black?" and I wasn't surprised to see it all go downhill from there. I was called everything from racist, to an asshole, to prejudiced against other women of color.
Someone said I had a "very fucked up belief system," whatever that means, and I was reminded that this was about "all of us, not just [me]" because of course asking if out of 100 or so staffers, a handful happened to be black women, was excluding white men (or women.)
One comment that gave me pause was from a black man who responded with, "why does it matter as long as they're filling some sort of quota? We can't afford to let perfect be the enemy of the good," and it was amazing to me (major sarcasm) that none of these "progressive" Democrats knew how to check their own damn privilege.
I've said before that it would be very hard for the black community to find the perfect candidate. For two reasons, the first is that the black community is extremely divided on fundamental issues such as LGBTQIA rights, religion and feminism/womanism, and the second is that any black leader who got up and stated that "black lives matter," would be assassinated on site.
But that doesn't mean all types of black women---or even black people--- can't be represented in government. No, it isn't enough that women are getting these positions, black women specifically need to be in them as well (and to make anyone who needs to feel better, feel better. Latinas, Muslim women, Asian women, Native American women, LGBTQIA women etc... need to have a seat at that table as well.)
Around 15% of the U.S population is black or African American, and of that 52% are women. If employers followed ethical and fair hiring practices, questions about diversity would not be raised. Black women are incredibly vocal when it comes to community and politics...and we know this from the civil rights movement. Now, I still never got the answer to my original question, but I do know that unless these campaigns purposely exclude black women, there would be plenty on staff.
It is easy to call for unity when you are normalizing your own position, whether it be race, economic status or both, but unity will always rely on diversity when we live in a system that benefits certain groups more than others.
The fact of the matter is that progressive politicians have not aligned themselves with the black and African American community in a significant way. Some may argue that Bernie Sanders marched on Washington and participated in the civil rights movement of the '60s and '70s, but what is he doing specifically for black folk today? We already have voting rights and integrated schools, so is he or any other politician prepared to be allies in the next steps?
Now, I'm not saying that the problem solely lies with these politicians and their campaigns, it lies with their supporters as well. You can be a progressive democrat "economically," and still be anti-black, anti-women, and anti-LGBT, among other things. So why should black people, black women, in particular, join a movement whose supporters are bigoted?
Fundamentally, there is little difference between the new wave of the democratic party and the MAGA hat wearing trolls.