Let me start with these elections and what has been happening in the democratic primary as the candidates head towards South Carolina.
It's no secret that there are more African American democratic voters in South Carolina than there are white ones, and so, as politicians tend to do, the pandering has begun.
I read Charles Blow's excellent article on "Bernie-Splaining", and his take on progressives and their penchant for treating us black folks like their children was on point. Let's call it the bigotry of paternalism. Trust me, I am not new to this rodeo. I have called out white progressives for this before. In fact, I was one of the first so black bloggers to do so, because it is something that has always bothered me about progressives.
Bernie and his people have fallen into that trap, and I couldn't get that image of him and Rev. Al posing at their breakfast at Sylvia's for all the word to see, out of my mind. Taking a picture with Rev. Al (a man who most black folks will tell you does not represent us) just reinforced the perception ---by those of us who are in on the joke--- that progressives really don't get it.
I feel for Charles Blow when he says the following:
"I cannot tell you the number of people who have commented to me on social media that they don’t understand this support. “Don’t black folks understand that Bernie best represents their interests?” the argument generally goes. But from there, it can lead to a comparison between Sanders and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; to an assertion that Sanders is the Barack Obama that we really wanted.... If only black people knew more, understood better, where the candidates stood — now and over their lifetimes — they would make a better choice, the right choice.
The level of condescension in these comments is staggering.
Sanders is a solid candidate and his integrity and earnestness are admirable, but that can get lost in the noise of advocacy.
Tucked among all this Bernie-splaining by some supporters, it appears to me, is a not-so-subtle, not-so-innocuous savior syndrome and paternalistic patronage that I find so grossly offensive that it boggles the mind that such language should emanate from the mouths — or keyboards — of supposed progressives.
But then I am reminded that the idea that black folks are infantile and must be told what to do and what to think is not confined by ideological barriers. The ideological difference is that one side prefers punishment and the other pity, and neither is a thing in which most black folks delight.