“Bernie or Bust” is the epitome of white privilege

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Look, I’m mad too. I am as angry as the next ridiculously passionate millennial that Bernie Sanders has been robbed of this nomination. There are hopefuls out there that preach that “he’s not quite out yet” and “don’t give up!” but let’s be real – this has been quite a run, but Bernie’s legs have been broken and beaten and he’s 74 years old, okay? He’s tired. Hillary on the other hand is being hoisted, Aladdin style, on the backs of big banks and Super PACs and she’ll undoubtedly make it to the finish line as our winner.

But let’s stop and consider what exactly this means. We now have an all-but-definite nominee from the Democratic party, and the Republicans have a similar situation. Donald Trump is a disturbing reality.

Let’s take a moment and talk about how ridiculously scary that concept is. There is a definite possibility that our next president will be a hate-spewing, xenophobic, inflammatory racist and that is terrifying. Is it likely that Donald Trump, if president, will be able to pass half of the legislation he’s talking about? No. A fourth? Probably not. Heck, he probably won’t pass anything. But that’s not the point.

We’ve done a pretty good job of making racism not okay in America.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t exist – racism is far from obliterated, but I can safely say it is not okay to be publicly horrible. People will come after you – it’s not socially accepted to be racist and discriminatory and violent openly.

But what we’ve witnessed here in this election cycle is the appropriation of modern racism and strawman tactics to the average American. Trump has made it okay – not just okay, even popular to be open and very very loud with your persecution. Right wing conservatives who before limited their use of the N-word to their taxidermy filled living rooms are now leaving those safe spaces. They are flooding the streets at Trump rallies and carrying over his words to their local supermarkets and baseball games. These are dangerous times to be a person of color in our nation, and it can’t be ignored, no matter how much you love his economic policies and hate Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits.

“Bernie or Bust” is a mentality among a demographic that can only be described as vastly straight, white males. They tout all day long that America has made it’s bed and should be forced to lay in it, saying that if Bernie Sanders did not win the nomination, they would not vote in the general election. Unfortunately, this is a large number of votes that the democratic party can not afford. In a matchup against Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is not a landslide winner. It will be close, and the party needs those straight white males to vote Clinton or it will secure a Trump presidency.

It’s easy to talk about justice and pride and dignity when you have no danger of being deported. When you don’t feel fear being attacked while walking down the street. When you don’t fear Donald Trump the way a person of color is forced to fear Donald Trump. If it were Hillary Clinton against Hitler in Germany in the 1930s, it’s pretty easy for a blonde-haired blue-eyed non-Jewish person to talk about principal and hold their ballot along with their tongue. But marginalized and threatened people are not afforded that luxury. There are dire consequences for Muslims, African-Americans and even more so for women of these groups that white men cannot wrap our heads around, even me.

I can’t pretend to understand how terribly frightening it must be to watch someone like Donald Trump rise to power. I can’t pretend to understand what it feels like to be a Muslim man living in America, having to look at his child and explain what’s going on around them. To explain why President Trump says these things and why the public – while a year ago was relatively silent and nonjudgemental – are now shouting and threatening them at school and on the street. I can’t even begin to imagine this. But that’s the point.

The fact that you are allowed to consider the thought of holding back your vote out of spite and out of pride is the very fabric of the privilege that you have received out of luck. Your African-American neighbor will never know what that feels like.

And it goes both ways – you can’t help that you were born with this privilege. The only thing you can do about it is acknowledge it and to think about someone other than yourself. I don’t like Hillary Clinton any more than the next person. But you can bet that in November I will show up. And I’ll hold my nose while I do it, but I will do my civil duty as an American and vote for the lesser of two evils so that my brothers and sisters that happen to have been born not only as people of color – but as people of color in a time where the nation around them is turning their backs and spitting on their faces – can have hope for coming out of the next four years still breathing.

 

 

 

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