This Is How Bernie Sanders Lost My Vote

"Sure, I'll friend you on Facebook, Bernie."

“Sure, I’ll friend you on Facebook, Bernie.”

The day Bernie Sanders lost my vote was last Sunday during the debate with Hillary Clinton before the Michigan primary, which he narrowly won.  Good for him and next Tuesday is the Ohio primary.     On most issues my heart is with Bernie, but because of his inelegant ineptness on race, my vote will be with Hillary.

I don’t have an overarching political/philosophical preference for Clinton over Sanders and there’s no great policy position between the two which moves me to favor one over the other.

In a general election the Republicans and their well-oiled attack machine would blast Sanders into unrecognizable tufts of hair, broken glasses and brain matter. Hypothetical polls in March how he fares well in hypothetical matches against Trump or Cruz don’t impress me in the least. Sanders hasn’t convinced me he can win in November.

There are two Independents in the Senate who caucus with the Democrats. One is Angus King and the other is Sanders. Which begs the question why is Bernie Sanders running as a Democrat when he isn’t one?

Sanders isn’t a Democrat and has never supported the Democratic Party until he decided to run for president as a Democrat. Yet he still maintains his status as a declared Independent in the Senate. Good for him for remaining independent even if he has ideologically contaminated himself by throwing in with a political party he’s always held in low regard if not outright disdain.

Sanders could have run as an Independent but he wanted the advantages, ballot access, higher profile and being taken seriously that comes with being on the Big Stage with the first team. I’m really baffled why Hillary hasn’t nailed Bernie on his 11th hour conversion. It looks so calculated and it is.

What it comes down to is while I don’t like Hillary Clinton so much more than Bernie Sanders, I’ve begun to like him a lot less when he says stuff like this during the debate in Flint, Michigan:

Hillary Clinton, seeking to cement her lead among black voters, released statements from the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis on Tuesday criticizing Bernie Sanders for saying white people “don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto.”

The Vermont senator, who has struggled to persuade blacks to support him, made the statement during a debate in Flint, Mich., on Sunday. The CNN moderator Don Lemon asked both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders to describe their “racial blind spots.”

“When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto — you don’t know what it’s like to be poor,” Mr. Sanders said. “You don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street or you get dragged out of a car.”

The remarks provoked an immediate online backlash from people who pointed out that many whites also live in dilapidated housing and in low-income neighborhoods.   Mr. Sanders clarified his statements on Monday in comments to several reporters in Detroit.

“What I meant to say is when you talk about ghettos traditionally, what you’re talking about is African-American communities,” said Mr. Sanders, standing near his campaign’s chartered plane.

On Tuesday, the Clinton campaign released statements from Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Mr. Martin, and Lucia McBath, the mother of Mr. Davis. The two black teenagers were killed in separate shootings in Florida that became racial flash points.

“Senator Sanders is wrong to suggest that the concept of the ghetto is inextricably connected to black America,” Ms. Fulton said in the statement. “We need a president who understands black families don’t all live in ghettos — and who has a plan to end the racial violence that too often plagues families like mine.”

Putting aside the Clinton campaign enlisted the mothers of two murdered Black youths to zing Sanders, he comes across as a classic, condescending White liberal wringing his hands over those poor, poor Black people suffering in the ghetto.

If I had to put my finger on the one thing that bugs me about Bernie, his cluelessness on race would be it. Even his “what I really meant” follow-up was full of shit. When you’re talking about ghettos you’re traditionally talking about is African-American communities?

The Hillary and Bernie Show rolls on and on and on….

Says who? Says you, Bernie! Here’s what Merriam-Webster says:

plural ghettos also ghettoes

  • 1 : a quarter of a city in which Jews were formerly required to live
  • 2 : a quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure

You can find a ghetto in many places including Jewish ghettos like those in Poland during WWII or spread across Europe in the 17th century designed for one purpose:  to keep the Jews trapped in poverty and hopelessness.    Ghettos aren’t confined to bombed-out neighborhoods in Detroit.  You can find a ghetto in the Appalachian hills in West Virginia or a trailer park in Columbus, and I guarantee there will be a lot of White faces wondering what you’re looking around there for.

Sanders has a problem with race as how people of color experience in 2016:   He doesn’t know much about it.  I’m told by Sanders supporters he’s the best candidate for real progress being made, but I’ve grown weary of Bernie’s shoot-from-the-lip remarks about Blacks.   At this point in his life he doesn’t get it, can’t get it and won’t get it that he doesn’t get it.

Trump has made a series of stupid quips over the years  well he gets along with “the blacks” and  that’s him doing Shit Donald Trump Says.  However, Sanders is so awkward and forced when he says anything about Blacks it comes off like he’s never met any before he ran for president,   It’s taken as fact Trump is a pompous and conceited con man, but that’s his schtick.  Sanders seems to want to emulate the Trump swagger and be sanctimonious while doing it. That’s just aggravating.

I fail to see why its asking too much to expect an actual Democrat running to become the de facto leader of the Democratic Party.   I wouldn’t call Sanders a DINO (Democrat In Name Only) but…oh wait…yes, I would.

When you want all the benefits without paying any of the dues, it’s hard to trust Sanders is a Democrat or will stay a Democrat should he fail to win the nomination. He’ll just go back to being the same independent Socialist who has always held the Democrats at arm length until he needed their legitimacy to run for president.

There’s a name for that sort of slick move: opportunist. Sanders is working a hustle and I’m baffled how  Clinton gets slammed as an insincere panderer while Sanders gets a pass.    For these reasons and more,  it comes down to  Hillary didn’t win my vote so much as Bernie has lost it.

“…and how many Black people do you know, Senator?”

Rabbit Season, Duck Season, Trayvon Season

zimmerman

“So George, what’s the first thing you’re going to do now that you’re free?”
“Going hunting. Again.”

“Fucking punks. These assholes always get away.”  ~ George “The Hunter” Zimmerman

The fix was in.   We knew it would end this way.  It always ends this way.  Black people crying and the killers of Black people smiling triumphantly.    One is vindicated and the other is vilified.  Same as it ever was.

The last time I felt like this was in April 1992 when another jury with no Blacks on it found the four cops who beat up Rodney King not guilty.  America betrayed me then too.

Whenever we are in danger of forgetting  America reminds its Black sons and daughters exactly how cheap their lives are.   Just the same way it did for Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell and Oscar Grant and Rodney King.    With a slap on the wrist, a victorious acquittal and a big gob of spit right in the face of every one that hoped maybe this time would be the time when justice prevailed and someone would pay for killing a young Black man the way they didn’t pay for Diallo, Bell, Grant, and King.

It wouldn’t be George Zimmerman.  He walked out of the courtroom “not guilty” on all charges as a free man.   He even got the gun back he used to shoot Trayvon Martin.

Tomorrow George Zimmerman can go hunting for another Trayvon Martin. And now he has the blessings of the American justice system to do so.

No surprise. As my older brother said, “It’s a commentary on the value of a Black kid’s life.”

Six women, five White and one Hispanic, sat in the courtroom looking at Sybrina Fulton, Travyon’s mother and they concluded,  “Your son didn’t matter.  His life didn’t matter.”   They gave Gladys Zimmerman back her son George.   Sybrina Fulton can go to the cemetery if she wants to see her son.

“Today, justice failed Trayvon Martin and his family,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP. “We call immediately for the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the civil rights violations committed against Trayvon Martin. This case has re-energized the movement to end racial profiling in the United States.”

zimmerman trial_2

He’s got a hoodie and he’s Black! Shoot first and ask no questions later.

“It seems that Trayvon Martin was tried and found guilty of his own death”   MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry said and indeed he was.

Blackness is a crime.  Punishable by death.   Travyon was guilty of being Black.  And he’s dead.  I’d like to cry about it.  I’d like to drink myself into numbness.

But I’m not crying and I’m not drinking. I couldn’t be more sober. “American Justice?” That’s an oxymoron.

I don’t believe there will be widespread rioting or acts of violence.  There will be some, but not that much and not that bad.   While idiots were predicting mass insurrections and the blood of innocent Whites flowing in the gutters, I never believed it.   That was just wishful thinking by racists.    We are angry and we are hurt, but we are not savages.   We will not fall into the traps laid by hateful bastards like Geraldo Rivera and the Fox News cabal who can’t to chortle and say, “We told you so.  We told you those niggers would go crazy if Zimmerman walked.”

There was no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram, no social media in which to curse, rage and vent.    Most people are slow to anger and while there is plenty of anger, the emotion I detect most is hurt.   Hurt that yet again America reminds its Black children it is an inattentive, cold and cruel parent that does not love us as we love it and places no value or worth on our lives.    This is not a White thing.   There are plenty of pissed-off people about this abortion of “justice” and it crosses over all race lines.   No, this is an American thing and that separateness, that feeling of unequal protection and that we remain a problem to be solved and not a loyal and trusted citizen to be embraced.

I am ashamed of my country.   I don’t feel like an American.   I feel like an alien in a hostile world that doesn’t understand me and hates me and all that I love.   I wonder if there’s somewhere better than this?   Or does my skin color trump my very humanity everywhere on this wretched planet as it does everywhere in this wretched country? It’s been a while, some 21 years since the Los Angeles riots that I felt this way.   It has been over two decades since last I felt this sort of acidic and withering contempt for America and a legal system that rubber stamps the hunting and killing of unarmed teenagers.

This jury did not see Travyon as a human being with the right to live like a human being.  To them Trayvon was a disease and Zimmerman was the lethal cure.   Now he’s free to “cure” more dangerous Black teenagers.

There will be more Trayvon Martins. And now there will be more George Zimmermans to kill more Trayvon Martins.   Rabbit season.  Duck season.  Nigger season.

I have a son.  My brother has two sons.  My sister has a son.  My sister-in-law has two sons.  That’s six young Black men and any of them could be lined up in the crosshairs of the next vigilante, wannabee cop.   Black parents always have to give their sons (as well as our daughters “the Talk.”   Not the one about the birds and the bees, but about the cops or the gangs and how to avoid ending up a tragic statistic.

Now we have to add to it.   Now we have to tell our kids how to avoid the wannabee cops, the vigilantes, the bigots like Zimmerman and his whole lousy hateful family who target Black youth.

It’s not enough to keep our sons away from the raging racists like the entire Zimmerman Clan.   We must also find a way to bring back as many of those young Black men involved in gangs and crime.   We must become proactive in keeping them out of the prison-industrial complex and trying to mentor and aid those locked in it and those coming out of it.

We ignore them at our own peril.    There isn’t much comfort to find on this darkest of days, but I take a small bit from this post by Roderick Belin I came across on Twitter.

Black boys matter to their families: their parents and loved ones. Black boys matter to those of us who do not seek to profit off them but who love them for their sheer powerful presence. Black boys matter because they are created in the image of God – because they are fearfully and wonderfully made. Black boys matter because they are brilliant, strong, beautiful, powerful and have universe-altering contributions to make to the world. Those who hate Black boys know this and fear Black boys today just as Pharaoh feared and sought to deal wisely with the Hebrew boys millennia ago. But, we are wise too. We are strong. We are strategic. We love. And, because we love, God is on our side.

Love your Black sons. Love and protect them. You must.   America will not.

“Find out just what the people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Frederick Douglass (1817? – 1895)

hoodie

PLEASE consider signing the NAACP’s petition to have the Justice Department file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.

A Good Week To Be the Bad Guy

“Hey, this ain’t so bad after all.”

On the first day of George Zimmerman trial one of the defense attorneys thought he’d try to break up the tension in the room.  He told a knock-knock joke.

Nobody laughed.   The joke fell flat and nobody has tried to tell another joke since.   Not until last week when the general sentiment was the prosecution was getting hammered by Mark O’ Mara and the rest of the defense team.   Okay, things went pretty badly, but from some of the moaning and groaning over lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda occasionally faltering performance you might have been led to believe the jury not only had found Boy George “not guilty” they gave him a  public service award for killing Trayvon Martin.

I haven’t watched the trial.  Not a minute of it.  This is a subject that hits too close to home.   I admit I’m biased.  I think Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon and he killed him because some Black kid was where he shouldn’t be: in his neighborhood.

From most reports I’ve read some of the witnesses did a better job for the defense than the prosecution that called them to testify.   The main offender was detective Chris Serino who may have sabotaged the trial.

Sanford Police Investigator Chris Serino, who interrogated Zimmerman, told the jury he concluded the defendant was either telling the truth or was a pathological liar. At that point lead defense attorney Mark O’Mara asked, “Do you think he was telling the truth?”

Prosecutors should have objected to the question, analysts said, but they remained silent.

“Yes,” Serino replied.

They objected the next day, when Judge Debra Nelson ruled witnesses were not supposed to comment on the credibility of other witnesses because it was the jury’s job to decide who to believe. She ordered the jury to ignore that exchange, which means it cannot be mentioned in closing arguments and they should not consider it during deliberations, but her ruling also called further attention to what Serino said

Bernie’s not-so-good, bad, horrible week.

While social media was having its evil fun beating up on Rachel Jeantel, the witness that may have done the greatest harm to the prosecution’s case was a cop with a big mouth while the prosecution sat there dumbly.   From the beginning it was well-known the Sanford cop shop was sympathetic to Zimmerman.  Maybe they hung out pounding donuts and shooting the breeze about the “fucking punks” that were ripping off everything that wasn’t nailed down in Boy George’s hood.

If things go shit side up,  save some blame for Serino if his town starts burning to the ground.

Will there be a riot goin’ on in Sanford?  I hope not, but if it does it will be because the legal system failed Trayvon and his family.   I’m seeing a lot more pessimism and fatalism in my news feed over how the trial is going so far than optimism.    Summer is here.  Temperatures are rising.   There’s people with blood in their eyes and they may not be in the mood for any more injustice.

I’ve already seen in my news feed some calling for Sanford to be burned to the ground if George Zimmerman goes free.

Don’t laugh. It might just work.

Some are predicting if Zimmerman isn’t convicted, we’re going to see a replay of the 1992 L.A. riots.  The fury that set Los Angeles on fire is simmering on a low flame, but do not doubt that it is still there.     Those that demanded justice for Trayvon allowed the system to take its sweet time in arresting Zimmerman when the Sanford cops and district attorney just turned palms up and shrugged their shoulders.

They have gritted their teeth and watched as Zimmerman gamed the system (remember Judge Nelson is the third judge appointed to the case) and suffered with quiet restraint as the legal team smeared Trayvon’s reputation with leaks about his school records and drug usage.    Nobody threw a brick through any windows when Zimmerman set up a website to ask for funds for his defense and then scammed the suckers by using the money to pay off his credit cards.

Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie was charged with perjury after lying  during a bond hearing about $135,000  the couple had concealed while claiming indigent.    The rest of Zimmerman’s family is no prize either.  Little brother Robert sent out some racist tweets, Mama Gladys  penned a letter on the one-year anniversary of her sonny boy arrest saying it was done  “solely to placate the masses” as she quite deliberately omitted any reference to the real victim, Trayvon Martin.   Finally, Robert Sr., made his contribution by scribbling a whiny self-published e-book where he blamed practically every African-American in America as the “true racists.”

Nice family George is part of, but it does explain a lot about his attitudes.   The Coreleones have nothing on the Zimmermans.

Why aren’t THEY laughing? Because nothing’s funny.

If Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s parents,  aren’t calling for rioting in the streets, NOBODY else should be either.   There will be some asshole trying to stir things up, but I hope like hell everyone tunes those fools right out.  A riot might seem like a perfectly sensible reaction to allowing a killer to go free, but it won’t help anything and it won’t change anything.    It won’t get Zimmerman and it won’t bring Trayvon back, so what is accomplished but to make Black people look exactly like the savages the Zimmerman supporters say we are?

Vengeance is not ours.   There are reasons to riot, but deluding yourself it will get justice for Trayvon Martin is not one of them.

If Zimmerman walks due to the ineptitude of the prosecution there will be those who see a “not guilty” verdict as proof the fix was in from the jump.  They may have a point.    There was a day in court where George Zimmerman smiled and laughed in response to what one witness said.  I did not like that smile.  Not one bit.

You know who hasn’t found a single thing to laugh about?   Trayvon Martin’s parents.

I’m a realist, not an optimist. I hope for the best and expect the worst. That way when the best happens I’m pleasantly surprised and when the worst occurs, I’m never disappointed.

The trial is not over.  There’s still chances to wipe that smile off of George Zimmerman’s ugly face.

A riot is not justice.

A Year in the Death of Trayvon Martin

Murdered for the crime of being Black and "suspcious."

Trayvon Martin should be alive today, but of course he isn’t.    He’s dead because a scared little creep named George Zimmerman shot and killed him a year ago to the day.

And all hell broke loose…

When we talk about race in America those conversations are often nervous, dishonest, awkward and less than candid.   Too often we end up saying things we don’t really mean but sound right.   When Whites and Blacks and other races talk about race, we’re either put on airs as we struggle to be on our best behavior and not offend.     However, there are occasions where the false fronts and fake faces are dropped and we stand toe-to-toe and just let the bullets fly.   We don’t get polite.   We get real.

For a year now that’s what I’ve sought to do as I write about the Trayvon Martin case.   I try to bring the real.   I’m not trying to be impartial.   I’m not claiming I don’t have a bias.   I’ve chosen a side and I am on Team Trayvon, not Team Zimmerman.   I’m not a vigilante.   I leave that sort of thing to frightened rabbits like Zimmerman.    Nor do I want anything bad to happen to him or his wife and co-conspirator, Shellie Zimmerman.  I want them to be safe as houses right up until the day they are both convicted of their many crimes and are sent to prison.

I’m also preparing myself for the distinct possibility they both walk.

Do you move on?   Do you put it behind you?   Does your once inflamed sense of outrage cool until it grows as cold as the corpse of Trayvon?

No.  Of course you can’t allow that.  Not if you have the slightest sense of justice.  There’s been no justice here.  All we’ve seen so far is how skillful lawyers with no conscience or scruples will go to murder the truth.   Why does Zimmerman’s defense team need access to a teenager’s social media?   Who exactly is on trial here?

We know the answer to that, don’t we?   We know it is Trayvon who is on trial.   It is Trayvon, not his killer, who must prove he wasn’t some sort of thug.   Some punk who went out in the rain not for a bag of candy and a can of iced tea, but looking for trouble.

The innocent and the guilty

After all, he was a bad kid, right?   He shouldn’t have been out at 7:00 pm roaming around in the dark.   Right?   Just because some fool he didn’t know was chasing him in the dark and confronted him with a loaded gun he wasn’t supposed to be carrying, doesn’t mean it’s not his fault?   Why, he practically made poor George Zimmerman shoot him!   Zimmerman was fighting for his life.  He had every right to defend himself!

Right?

That only makes sense if you concede one point.   You must concede Zimmerman was correct in his conclusion that a Black kid walking around at night in his neighborhood and wearing a hoodie justifies racial profiling.   Justifies ignoring police instructions not to follow and engage.  Justifies hunting Trayvon through the apartment complex.    Justifies terrifying an unarmed young man who had done nothing and wanted nothing more than to get home and out of the rain.

Justifies confronting an unarmed young man, fighting that unarmed young man, and pulling out a gun and shooting to death that unarmed young man once it became clear he was winning the fight.

The problem for Zimmerman is there is no justification.   The Stand Your Ground law is not a license to kill.   Putting your own dumb ass in a potentially dangerous situation is not a justification.   Fearing for your life because you’re getting your dumb ass kicked is not a justification.

Being a coward, being an arrogant wannabee vigilante?   That might be a justification.   If you’re a murderous coward, that is.

Even the president weighed in on the controversy.

On the anniversary of the murder, CNN published excerpts of letters provided to them by his lawyers sent to Zimmerman from both supporters and detractors.   They illustrate how wide the racial schism is and how raw the emotions are  between how  Black and White America view this case .

  “Murderer,” one e-mail’s subject line said.

“Please shoot yourself, you racist piece of sh-t,” read the body of another e-mail. “You killed an unarmed teen that you stalked.”

And several dictated the same, succinct line: “Hope you die in prison.”

These venom-drenched words are just a smattering of at least 400 e-mails and letters, all sent to George Zimmerman over the past 10 months.

Some applaud his lawsuit against NBC over the altering the recording of his police call, allegedly to “create the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain.”

Other missives — many packed with vitriol and anger — provide a glimpse into the emotion that overcame the nation when Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a black teen, in Sanford, Florida, exactly one year ago.

Like the friendly letters, there are recurring themes: condemnation of Zimmerman’s conduct that night, mocking the website he established to collect donations for the legal defense and even ridiculing the physical appearances of him and his wife, Shellie.

Zimmerman is vilified as a predator in these letters, while Martin is portrayed as a “baby” or “child.” Dozens are riddled with profanity and crude anatomical references.

In contrast, others saw the racial controversy as a ginned-up conspiracy to condemn Zimmerman and made references to “the race-baiting media” and “threats by the black community and their leaders.”

“Black people take every opportunity to claim they’ve been wronged,” said one letter, while another encouraged Zimmerman to keep his head high: “Don’t let the damn blacks hold you back.”

What it's all about

What it’s all about

It’s a bitter laugh when Zimmerman’s supporters say “race has nothing to do with this.”  On what planet are they living on?   Not the same one I’m from.   Race has everything to do with this and it always did.   Only a deliberately blind idiot can’t see how Martin’s race, and to a lesser extent, Zimmerman’s as well factors into how the sides have been chosen and whose cause is being championed.

For many, Zimmerman is a hero defending his hood from a thug in a hoodie.   For the rest of us who only have to know the facts, not twist them, we know it is Trayvon Martin who was the only innocent victim here and the only one who was minding his own business not looking for trouble.

Trouble found him and cowardly ended his life.  The story of Trayvon lives beyond his brief 18 years.    He has become both a symbol and a martyr for this country’s pathological fear and scorn for young Black men.   We can’t ease up, can’t let up, can’t give up.   Not until this murdering piece of trash pays for his crime.  But if Zimmerman doesn’t pay for his crime (and it’s not only possible he won’t,  it’s likely) and he walks out of a Florida courtroom declared “not guilty” by the law, that won’t be an end for the pursuit of justice.

The law and justice are two separate things.   The law may set Zimmerman free.   Justice never will.

It’s a year gone by.  My hoodie is on and up in support of Trayvon Martin and his family who say they will let the jury decide.   That is how it should be.  We must allow the justice system to go forth and hope it finds its way to the truth.

It’s slow.  It’s frustrating.   At times it’s infuriating, but that’s how it has to be.  In the meantime,  me and my hoodie say ” Geraldo Rivera can kiss my ass.”

No forgiving.  Not forgetting.  Justice for Trayvon.

The job’s not done.  Trayvon sleeps, but I pray justice doesn’t sleep on Trayvon.