BY JEANETTE LENOIR
A little birdie told us, but we didn’t listen. And now the gap to enter the portal to take us to the promised land Dr. King envisioned is permanently closed with the end of Senator Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. We may never get the chance to equal the playing field of our times because the political structure supported by both Republicans and Democrats benefits the status quo: the powerful against the powerless. And as the source of cheap labor that allows rich corporations to prolong their feeding frenzy on Wall Street, we might as well accept our fate as 21st century slaves.
As we journey along the COVID-19 highway of death, it’s important to take note of how inequality and racism will impact the response to this pandemic by simply paying attention to those who help, and those who help themselves. While government officials and lobbyist fight for their take of the $2.2 trillion relief aid, the first of several promised, essential workers and communities across America are pulling together to help each other, coming up with inventive ways to survive this pandemic, all while they continue to fill the belly of the beast with gold coins as “essential workers.” It has become more evident how profoundly dependent the rich are on working class and poor people. And all along, Sen. Sanders has been fighting for, and alongside us, to bring about the equality, reform and justice this country’s working-class people desperately need. I’m sorry we failed him, again.
Sen. Sanders was the “come to Jesus moment” we could’ve had. He defended our human rights, workers rights, access to healthcare and education, tirelessly working to usher in opportunities for common, hard-working folks to taste the fruits of their labor that, since Reaganomics, only the wealthy get to enjoy. Sanders was unsuccessful in his bid to unchain us from our economic bondage to our inhumane capitalism structure because the nation is suffering from Stockholm’s syndrome. Some lawmakers even have the audacity to argue against people making a living wage, while defending billion-dollar companies who don’t pay taxes and take American manufacturing jobs to desperately poor and suffering people in developing countries to squeeze all they can from an unsustainable global workforce model. Having your cake and eating it too is more than a proverb for having it all, it’s the reality of our capitalistic system coveted by the rich and powerful. And who gets saddled with the costs of being an American? Poor and working-class citizens that these corporations apparently can’t live without. There is no justice here, just us … 244 years later, still unable to right so many wrongs, especially now with the exit of our last hope, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
It seems as if no one paid attention when Sanders exposed Joe Biden as a fibber and a pawn in the scheme to tighten the grip on power of working class people during one of their debates over freezing government benefits for veterans and the needy. Last week, he was arguing on our behalf on the Senate floor, even shaming Republicans who fought to limit how much money poor people should get from the Coronavirus relief aid. The people of this country, especially those who could have directly benefited from a Sanders White House, clearly forgot who marched, picketed and got arrested along side them. And black leaders throwing their support behind Biden, the man who lied about being part of the black struggle on the front lines of the civil rights movement, the man who publicly shamed and dismissed Anita Hill, the man who helped usher in an era of mass incarceration of black people, is not just misguided and unfortunate, it’s evidence of their failures applying the lessons that come with American history. We aren’t just at war with the Coronavirus, we’re at war with ourselves.
I am reminded of the late brilliant Dr. John Henrik Clarke who said Democrats use black people as political playthings. He argued that black people must not be fooled into thinking that Democrats want to cultivate our strength as a people. He said, “It wasn’t meant to be. No one ever got the simple thing: people never educate you in the technique you can use to take their power away from them. See, education has but one honorable purpose, one alone, everything else is a waste of time. That is to train the student to be a responsible handler of power. No one ever wants us to be responsible handlers of power. It has nothing to do with political lines. The left doesn’t want us to be responsible no more than the right. But they want to dominate us in a different way from the right. And they think they can dominate us better. It’s an argument of not whether or not we will be free, but who will enslave us.”
With Biden as the clear Democratic nominee in this highly contentious presidential race, it’s apparent we are partly to blame for what is happening in the country. If this virus doesn’t kill all the voters among us, I hope it wakes us up to see who our allies are. Not just in words, but in deeds. James Baldwin asked the poignant and still relevant question worthy to be asked today: “how much time do you want for your progress?” And even the peaceful Dr. King talked about reaching the regrettable conclusion that black progress must heel to, “the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace, which is the absence of tension to a positive peace, which is the presence of justice.”
“We are the richest country in the history of the world. Every worker deserves a living wage, paid leave, health care, and a union—at all times, not just during crisis,” said Sanders. What a radical. We should all be grateful we dodged that bullet and stick to what we’ve become accustomed to; modern day slavery with a spoonful of freedom. Sarcasm aside, it’s time to wake up America. We need a lifebuoy. And Biden is not the candidate to ask for mouth to mouth resuscitation as we gasp for air. Despite how “articulate” he is.