Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hillary News & Views 7.23: Sandra Bland, Black Lives Matter, and Earning Every Vote

Today's edition of Hillary News & Views focuses only on the issues being addressed by the activists of Black Lives Matter, which is arguably the most significant and urgent progressive movement in politics today.

The first piece of news surrounds the suspicious arrest and death of Sandra Bland.

For those who are unaware, Bland herself was an activist in the Black Lives Matter movement. Witness her powerful words speaking out against white privilege and calling whites out on what they need to do to support the movement:

 As CNN reports, Clinton has released a statement regarding this tragedy:
"My heart breaks at seeing another young African American life lost too soon," Clinton said in a statement on Wednesday. "Sandra Bland had a bright future ahead of her and it is particularly tragic that she lost her life just as she was to start her new career."
Clinton added, "From what I've seen, the circumstances of this case are incredibly disturbing. I hope and expect that there will be a full investigation into this situation. It is also a tragic reminder of the ongoing systemic issues of race and justice in America that we must address with urgency, and we have to do more than talk—we have to take action."
We have some revelations from Clinton's meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus earlier this month, where she committed to fighting for specific legislative priorities of that caucus, as reported by The Independent:
Last week, Ms Clinton met with minority lawmakers of the Black Caucus on Capitol Hill to discuss the issues, seemingly the best way to engage black voters — a key constituency to winning the White House in 2016.
Caucus chairman G. K. Butterfield told The Independent that policy meeting with Ms Clinton was a productive beginning to the campaign, addressing issues that were important to the policymakers including gun control, poverty and criminal justice reform.
The Democratic congressman said that if Ms Clinton is elected, she promised to back the group’s 10|20|30 Amendment. The recovery act would send 10 percent of Rural Development funds are spent on communities where 20 percent or more of the population had lived below the poverty line over the past 30 years. The bill, currently in draft form, would authorize $50 billion over 10 years to counties with persistent poverty.
The article also included lengthy commentary by Samuel Sinyangwe, the policy analyst for WeTheProtesters, who shared specific directives that Clinton should emphasize in her campaign and, ultimately, as president:
Mr Sinyangwe said that meaningful action on a myriad of issues would be needed from the next president in order for blacks to continue making progress in America. He said that police violence would need curbed, which reportedly took the lives of more than 300 blacks in 2014.
“Hillary should stop the federal government from providing military weapons to local police departments, and lower the standard of proof needed for Department of Justice investigations to convict police officers who brutalize our people.”
Singyangwe went on with further suggestions and commentary:
“Twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists as foreign terrorists over the past 14 years. Yet, there has been no comparable call for us to invest trillions of dollars in protecting black people from these attacks.
“We don’t need more wars on other poor nations. It’s time to focus our resources on combating the racism and racial inequities that threaten too many lives and undermine our nation’s moral and economic potential,“ he said.
Mr Sinyangwe maintained that Ms Clinton should use the power of her platform to tell the truth about racism in the country: “Throughout our history, ‘all’ has never included us. ‘All men are created equal’ was written in the context of slavery. We remember her saying ‘all lives matter’ in Ferguson. We hope that she’ll join us in acknowledging that black lives matter too.”
The Washington Post has a good rundown on why all of the Democratic candidates, including Clinton, have been struggling to address the issues being raised by the #BlackLivesMatter movement:
Clinton’s team appears to be closely following Black Lives Matter, activists said.
But, citing her “all lives matter” comment last month, some activists say that she, too, appeared slow to catch on to the rhetoric of the movement. She made the statement during a speech that included remarks relating the early struggles of her mother to the challenges many people face today.
“What kept you going?” Clinton said she asked her mother. “Her answer was very simple: kindness along the way from someone who believed she mattered.” Then Clinton added: “All lives matter.”
Some attendees said the remark made sense in context, but others were offended. One attendee told NPR that the comment “blew a lot of support” that Clinton had been building.
In an interview with The New Republic, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors talks about what Clinton still needs to address:
I think we've heard Hillary say mass incarceration, we've heard these candidates use words that in the past haven't been used, and once again that's important, that's valuable, that means we're winning the debate, but we're not hearing candidates actually talk about police unions, and the role that they play, and [having] some of the biggest, having the most power in the lobby. We're not hearing candidates talk about a divestment from law enforcement and policing and incarceration and a reinvestment and a radical reinvestment into healthcare, into access for healthy food, into access for employment for all people. We're not hearing candidates talk about voter reform. We're not actually hearing candidates talk about the issues that mostly impact poor communities and poor black communities in particular.
Jamelle Bouie at Slate has some more concrete advice for Clinton:
Even with her speeches on criminal justice and voting rights, she still has work to do. Indeed, this might be a more acute area of concern for the former Secretary of State, who stands the best chance at winning the Democratic nomination but needs to rally black Americans to her side if she plans to win a general election. It would be in her interest, and to her advantage, to craft a detailed agenda on police, prison, and criminal justice reform, as well as plans to reduce racial gaps in wealth and unemployment and further enforce anti-discrimination laws.
Bustle reports on how Clinton is "at least trying to get it" by sharing seven key quotes on race from her so far.  Here is one of the quotes that hasn't gotten much attention, where she challenged her primarily white audience in the aftermath of Ferguson:
Imagine what we would feel and what we would do if white drivers were three times as likely to be searched by police during a traffic stop as black drivers instead of the other way around. If white offenders received prison sentences ten percent longer than black offenders for the same crimes. If a third of all white men — just look at this room and take one-third — went to prison during their lifetime. Imagine that. That is the reality in the lives of so many of our fellow Americans in so many of the communities in which they live.
In closing, I want to share some key tweets from Twitter, where much of the Black Lives Matter movement - and black activism in general - is centered.  I share these as a reminder that no vote should be taken for granted and that every vote must be earned.

For more on Hillary Clinton's campaign for the presidency, check out… 
The Hillary 2016 Platform Series  

Part 1: Criminal Justice Reform  

Part 2: Immigration Reform

Part 3: Voting Rights

Unfiltered Hillary: The Transcripts

July 20, 2015: Facebook Q&A

July 17, 2015: Iowa State Democratic Party Hall of Fame Dinner

April 23, 2015: Women in the World Summit

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