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The End of Black-Checking for Hillary

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Alexander

From the beginning of this cycle’s presidential race, Black people of all stripes, myself included, flocked to the well-known Democratic brand, Hillary Clinton. It felt safe, warm and familiar. I was content. I was on a barreling freight train headed straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in the shadow of the one-and-only Big Dog, Bill Clinton. This train had been in motion since before the long, hard days of W & Cheney’s evil ass. We were destined to win and win BIG.

Then I felt a pull. A beckoning of sorts. I went to the window. In the wake of the Billary Express, I saw the carnage. I saw my communities crumbling from jobs lost to NAFTA. Black mothers skipping meals as they realized their meager wages could not make up the gap left by the end of their welfare allotment. Black men jailed by an unjust drug war that targeted my community was turned from “stun” to “kill.” I saw Black and Brown wealth and the “ownership society” destroyed by financial deregulation. The voices of Black brilliance warned me of past transgressions against my community that needed redress- West, Coates, Alexander, et al.

My gut told me I had no business on this locomotive. I pushed past the smiling faces. Many were like me, gleeful. Just glad to be riding along. As I walked through first class, I saw many people I looked up to- “leaders.” Some were even known to me as heroes. These people were not smiling. They were plotting. Cutting deals with each other, those in the luxury class and Billary Express leadership. I then realized that my fellow riders were not passengers. We were cargo. Votes to be delivered for whatever Team Billary decided we were worth.

As I exited this nightmare, I heard another voice. An old Jewish, Democratic Socialist with unruly hair and a spine of steel. A plain-spoken man offering the things I knew my country needed. There were no fairy tales here. First, it was a whisper of revolution. A Political Revolution. I knew that meant one thing – lots and lots of work. Yet, the payoff was real. My children and grandkids could get a postsecondary education without being saddled with debt like I knew the rich kids could. They could have healthcare that was straightforward and cost effective. They would have a cleaner planet. Police would serve and protect all communities equally. A roaring economy that worked for everyone. The predatory class would be tamed and repurposed for productive tasks. An end to the senseless and endless war. We would rejoin the world as a partner. We are the richest most powerful country in human history. Nothing is out of reach if we work hard together and will it so. We had our own little Love Train.

Dispatches from the Billary Express were frequent and deafening. They never actually made sense. The first edition told us that the SNCC organizer and the Goldwater Girl had equal histories concerning race in our nation’s darkest hours and we shouldn’t talk about either. Huh? The second said that economic concerns were White people issues. What? The third indicated that Urban Poverty in neighborhoods of color was just like everyone else’s poverty. Come again? The messages kept coming. Only the tiny Love Train riders didn’t understand. Even some pedestrians cheered at every missive as if they were written on stone tablets. They laughed at us. Something was clearly wrong with us. We were cursed with the math, the history, and the English. We continued to be baffled. We are all OK with that. We continue the work of political revolution. We will accept all in our ranks. Even former Billary Expressers like me.

The latest message was too much to bear. Even for a gentle soul such as myself. The brilliant and compassionate Michelle Alexander, writer of the seminal book The New Jim Crow.” This book decoded the Incarceration State and triggered a national conversation on race and imprisonment. She is among brightest lights of American intelligentsia. The truth is her sword and knowledge her shield. She saw the Billary Express for what it was from its point of origin. She stood puzzled as we all gleefully piled aboard. She then did what she did best. She spoke. She wrote. She taught. Trying to wake us from our slumber. She was horrified because she knew the Billary Express was a loop. A circuit that skipped the days of plenty. It went directly to the blighted landscape that played out after they got away clean in 2000.

Michelle Alexander went on MSNBC with Chris Hayes to discuss her concerns about the Clintons. She spoke her truth, our truth. Many in America turned on her. They lined up to tell her she was wrong about the very same things we applauded just a year ago.

My response:

Later many more positive tweets came in:

Today was the end of Black-Checking for Hillary for this Love Train rider. No more. People of Color are joining us in greater numbers each day. Those that repeated the misleading Billary Express rhetoric without any hint of irony or discomfort must deal with their own deity or conscience. But the people using my Blackness or using Black women to create a gender/race wedge will get smooth cussed out. Throwing Michelle Alexander to the wolves to defend the Clintons, of all couples, was far too much for me.

For more, follow me on Twitter- @blupfront or look for me here at ProgressiveArmy.com.

WATCH The Extended Michelle Alexander Interview

Written by Michael Graham

Michael Graham

Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Veteran, Social Justice Warrior. City by birth, Country by default. Follow Michael on Twitter @BLUpfront.

Michael Graham is a Senior Writer for Progressive Army.

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2:00PM Water Cooler 5/20/2016 – BitBrowseEmm VeeKrissy WorkmanCarmen HudsonAlex Hughes-Walton Recent comment authors
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Krissy Workman
Guest

Ms. Alexander, I appreciate your important message, and I can tell you, many of us are doing all we can to chip away at the racial as well as the class divide. There is still much resistance but we must not be discouraged. Together, we are stronger.

Dan Gold Medal
Guest

Clinton is corrupt. On sale to the highest wall street bidder. End of story.

Emm Vee
Guest

I never heard of Michelle Alexander prior to reading her article in The Nation and after reading that article by Ms. Alexander, I know I’ll never forget her. Thank you. Mr. Graham this was a well written article and I too like Katie Fowler below could visualize the train. This article brought tears to my eyes. Believe it or not, I used to say, Bill Clinton was the best president in my lifetime, but then in 2015, Bernie Sanders came along and I knew he was a truth teller, I knew he was an honest, decent, caring man. The type… Read more »

Alex Hughes-Walton
Guest

Great article! Thanks for spreading the word. To the person in the article who claimed most people never heard of Sanders until last year, that is preposterous. Sanders appeared on Air America all the time; once I moved to New England, I learned even more about this fine Senator.

Carmen Hudson
Guest

Alex, most of us hadn’t heard of Bernie Sanders until this election. And this “Air America”, never heard of it. Why do you think it’s so important to educate people about him?

Maury Ballstein
Guest

Its infuriating that so many people still shut their eyes and cover their ears…

BL Haynes
Guest

Great article, Michael!

Gary White
Guest

To blame the Clintons singularly for the incarceration of black people is as simplistic as it gets. Ms. Alexander’s examination of the plight of black America is troubling on several levels. The explosion of crack in black America cannot be attributed to The Clintons. The Crime bill was a direct result of the widespread violence especially in black communities. I was in my 30s in the 90s crack hit black communities in the 80s. Her connection of NAFTA ect. to jobs loss is applicable but she ignores the obvious in order to grab the sensational. When crack hit black communities… Read more »

Craig Munch
Guest

See the truth about Bernie Sanders. He is a liar and profits from Wall Street and the Pharmaceutical Industry. Read the truth:

http://garnetnews.com/2016/04/04/bernie-sanders-invested-wall-street/

Mai Ameerah Mohammed
Guest

If you read the comments in that link you gave, everyone points out how idiotic the author is & the readers overwhelmingly point out the obvious fact anyone who believes this awful article (Craig Munch) is extremely gullible or purposefully looking for made up accusations to fit their confirmation bias.

Larry Kachimba
Guest

Good writing. But I have one question. Why has Sanders not recommended that Obama make a recess appointment of Michelle Alexander to the Supreme Court. She would instantly become the most popular judge on the Court and turn it around back to democracy. See http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/29/platform-perversity-more-from-the-campaign-that-cant-strategize/

and http://www.opednews.com/articles/4/The-Ides-of-March-Primarie-by-Rob-Hager-Democratic_Nomination_Primaries-160323-855.html

Rashid Booker
Guest

Michelle Alexander, is on point!

Patty Anderson
Guest

The New Jim Crow should be on every HS reading list. I’m in my 50’s. I realize now how many of the narratives I learned from my childhood on were flat-out wrong, just more Jim Crow propoganda, ever-changing to fit the times. How anyone can throw Michelle Alexander under the bus for the incredibly immoral and corrupt Clintons’…

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The End of Black-Checking for Hillary