Michelle Alexander’s Message On Presidential Race

Below are excerpts from Michelle Alexander’s article in The Nation titled “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote.”

“[Hillary Clinton is] facing a democratic socialist who promises a political revolution that will bring universal healthcare, a living wage, an end to rampant Wall Street greed, and the dismantling of the vast prison state—many of the same goals that Martin Luther King Jr. championed at the end of his life. Even so, black folks are sticking with the Clinton brand. …

“On the campaign trail, Bill Clinton made the economy his top priority. … In practice, however, he capitulated entirely to the right-wing backlash against the civil-rights movement and embraced former president Ronald Reagan’s agenda on race, crime, welfare, and taxes—ultimately doing more harm to black communities than Reagan ever did. …

“Bill Clinton presided over the largest increase in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history. … He supported the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine, which produced staggering racial injustice in sentencing and boosted funding for drug-law enforcement.

“Clinton championed the idea of a federal ‘three strikes’ law in his 1994 State of the Union address and, months later, signed a $30 billion crime bill that created dozens of new federal capital crimes, mandated life sentences for some three-time offenders, and authorized more than $16 billion for state prison grants and the expansion of police forces. …

“When Clinton left office in 2001, the United States had the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Human Rights Watch reported that in seven states, African Americans constituted 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison, even though they were no more likely than whites to use or sell illegal drugs. … All of the presidents since 1980 have contributed to mass incarceration, but as Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson recently observed, ‘President Clinton’s tenure was the worst.’ …

“In her support for the 1994 crime bill, [Hillary Clinton] used racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals. ‘They are not just gangs of kids anymore,’ she said. ‘They are often the kinds of kids that are called “super-predators.” No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.’ …

“As unemployment rates sank to historically low levels for white Americans in the 1990s, the jobless rate among black men in their 20s who didn’t have a college degree rose to its highest level ever. … Why is this not common knowledge? Because government statistics like poverty and unemployment rates do not include incarcerated people. …

“To make matters worse, the federal safety net for poor families was torn to shreds by the Clinton administration in its effort to ‘end welfare as we know it.’ … Experts and pundits disagree about the true impact of welfare reform, but one thing seems clear: Extreme poverty doubled to 1.5 million in the decade and a half after the law was passed. …

“Perhaps most alarming, Clinton also made it easier for public-housing agencies to deny shelter to anyone with any sort of criminal history (even an arrest without conviction) and championed the ‘one strike and you’re out’ initiative, which meant that families could be evicted from public housing because one member (or a guest) had committed even a minor offense. …

“Hillary Clinton is still singing the same old tune in a slightly different key. She is arguing that we ought not be seduced by Bernie’s rhetoric because we must be ‘pragmatic,’ ‘face political realities,’ and not get tempted to believe that we can fight for economic justice and win.”

Here’s a quick way to help build the movement: Forward this email to all Californians and ask them to
1) Read Michelle Alexander’s full article.
2) Vote for Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.
3) Sign our petition asking Superdelegates to vote the way the voters of their state vote.

— The RootsAction.org team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.

www.RootsAction.org

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