Bernie Sanders had a terrible black people outreach. He probably assumed that his message of “economic equality” would resonate with a group that never really benefitted from being in the richest country on earth. He waited too long to directly engage Black people and their issues and he let the Hillary Clinton Campaign/Media/Clinton Surrogates frame the narrative. When he finally decided to do something about it, the White Bernie Bro narrative that “Bernie doesn’t care about Black people issues” had already been cemented. While it’s true that there is definite systemic racism that Sanders didn’t properly address, ignoring the fact that systemic racism/slavery is related to the economic inequality of Black America is disingenuous.
These two things are intertwined and it’s going to be difficult to solve one issue if you fail to consider the other. You can ignore it all you want, but at the end of the day, it’s always about money. If it was not about money, slavery would have never happened. If it was just about “racism,” they would have either killed Africans or completely ignored the continent. The main reason slavery existed was because they had just discovered a new continent and they were looking for a cheap/free workforce to build it for them. And everything that has happened since slavery (Jim Crow, gerrymandering, the crime bill) was just a way to prevent black people from having any real economic or political power.
Now, let’s fast-forward back to 2016 and discuss what people think were the highlights of the two previous Democratic presidential terms and see if these achievements somehow helped tackle systemic racism. When you ask people, “What were the most important achievements of Slick Willy’s presidency?” you hear, the first “Black president” was good to us, we had good jobs, and the economy was strong. When you ask people, “What are the most important achievements of Obama presidency?” you usually get the Affordable Care Act, the overtime rule, “low unemployment,” Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and same-sex marriages.
One could argue that these achievements don’t really tackle systemic racism and many people focus on the economic side of the spectrum. The question then becomes, why did the likes of Capehart, Reid, and Propane Jane hate him so much when their two champions did not do all that much for African-Americans? Bill Clinton championed the crime bill and welfare reform, yet he’s still considered the “first black president.” Obama threw homeowners under the bus, many of them Black; he called protesters “thugs” when he refused to prosecute the real thugs on Wall Street.
He also came up with a bogus excuse for his non-support of reparations. The 1% do not want to give reparations for African-Americans because it’s going to be a lot of money and they think that they should be thankful because they were saved from a continent of “savages.” In the minds of racists, they were just a bunch of savages saved by white people. Therefore, they should forever be grateful. Sarkozy summed up this feeling quite well in his infamous Dakar speech. Long story short, it’s because of his “fight” against the 1% that he was accosted by people who claimed to have black people’s “best interests at heart.”