Sunday, March 12, 2017

Shaun King: Using 'working-class voters' as shorthand for white people is insulting and rooted in racism

Something ugly happens when "working class" becomes shorthand for white. It projects the very distinct impression that working people are white.  ...
Please stop saying that the Democratic Party has lost "working-class voters." It hasn't. It's an insult to the tens of millions of working-class voters of color who have voted faithfully for decades for each and every Democratic candidate thrown their way....
while I agree with the basic philosophy of Bernie Sanders that if the Democratic Party would do better by all working-class people, it could possibly begin to win back working-class white people in the process, we must not erase the fact that tens of millions of working-class voters simply are not white. Period.
Shaun King, Daily News
The false face of the working class
In my FB battles with some pro-Trump NYC teachers who are clearly immersed in racist attitudes -- like branding medicaid people as too lazy to work and ignoring the massive working poor population - many people of color -- we clearly see that kind of branding King exposes. I wonder how some of these teachers can face students who they believe don't deserve health care because their parents are poor.

I'm posting this Shaun King column as a follow-up to his recent column that I wrote about the other day: Bernie Sanders and Shaun King Savage the Dems As Matt Taibbi Questions Depth of Russia Story.

King pointed out that the Democratic Party was more unpopular than Trump. Arthur writes about that column today: Can You Teach an Old Democrat New Tricks?
 
My answer is NO. But more of that another time.

I am posting this as a preface to a follow-up for later in the day where I will explore the connections between the Dems, ed deform, the destruction of Vocational ed - here in NYC particularly as the Dems pushed the line that if you don't go to college you are nothing - a direct attack on the working class. And of course the fundamental support the AFT/UFT gave to ed deform from the very beginning. But more later.


Using 'working-class voters' as shorthand for white people is insulting and rooted in racism


Shaun King NY Daily News 7 March 2017

In case you missed it, Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in the presidential election and Republicans now control the House, the Senate, the presidency, and the majority of state houses, legislatures, and governorships across the country. At no time in my lifetime have fewer Democrats been in power than are in power right now. In the age of Donald Trump, it can be hard to focus on anything other than the dangers he poses, but I've heard one thing repeatedly blamed for why the Democrats have lost so much power and I have to address it — the idea that the party will continue to lose until they win over "working-class voters."
What follows will often be a montage of clips showing white people working in factories or attending Donald Trump rallies, narrated by a discussion on how Trump succeeded in certain voting districts that Obama and Bill Clinton previously won. Again, these districts are primarily white districts, outside of America's major cities, but the discussion, instead of using racial terms, has grown quite comfortable calling these voters "working class."
But here's the thing — working-class African-Americans voted for Hillary Clinton en masse. So did working-class Latinos and working-class Asians and working-class Native Americans and pretty much every non-white, working-class demographic in America. Here's the rub. In an apparent attempt to not deal with the fact that it's working-class white people who are abandoning the Democratic Party, the phrase "working class" is being used in place of the race-specific description.
This is a problem. Because here is what I know — when I get up at 6 or 7 a.m. and take the train to work in the morning in Brooklyn, the trains are packed with working-class voters, and they generally aren't white. When I lived in Atlanta, and Kentucky, and Southern California, the early-morning streets and bus stops were clogged with workers, and they were rarely white.
Something ugly happens when "working class" becomes shorthand for white. It projects the very distinct impression that working people are white. And sure, white people work, but all over this country, including deep in red states, people of color are filling millions and millions of working-class jobs — in the service industry, factories, public service jobs, the health care industry and everything in between. And the overwhelming majority of those men and women voted for Hillary Clinton and down-ticket Democrats.
Please stop saying that the Democratic Party has lost "working-class voters." It hasn't. It's an insult to the tens of millions of working-class voters of color who have voted faithfully for decades for each and every Democratic candidate thrown their way.
The Democratic Party, no doubt, has real issues it needs to address about how poorly the party has addressed the needs of everyday people on the issues of minimum wages, gender and racial pay equality, the skyrocketing costs of college tuition and health care, and so much more, but let's be clear: whether the Democratic Party deserved it or not, working-class voters of color have remained faithful to the party in spite of just how corporate and elitist it has become. While the Democratic Party is indeed in a fight for its soul, its identity, its core essence, and is still struggling to be clear on what it stands for, it is not losing because "working-class voters" have bailed.
White people have bailed. The majority of all people of color voted for Hillary Clinton. The majority of all white people voted for Donald Trump. And while I agree with the basic philosophy of Bernie Sanders that if the Democratic Party would do better by all working-class people, it could possibly begin to win back working-class white people in the process, we must not erase the fact that tens of millions of working-class voters simply are not white. Period.
If you want to say that working-class white people are abandoning the Democratic Party, say that. Otherwise, if you fail to include the racial designation you aren't just wrong, you are insulting. Saying "working class" when you truly mean "white working class" only advances the ugly stereotypes that hardworking Americans look like white lumberjacks and listen to country music. They damn sure might look like that here or there, but working-class Americans look like all of America. They are of every hue, every gender, every shape and size, every ability, every ethnicity and nationality. To reduce "working-class voters" to rural white people is a gross oversimplification of the beautiful complexity of this nation.
It's like reducing all Latinos in this country to Mexicans when the reality is that to be Latino in this nation could mean that your family is from a dozen different countries — none of them being Mexico.
Have you ever noticed how often our nation painfully reduces non-white groups and classifications in the ugliest possible ways? It's why we have white men attacking Sikhs, apparently thinking they were Muslims — who they associate with terrorism — because to be brown and ethnic in America must mean you are dangerous.
Our conversations must be fully parsed and nuanced. It might take more time and make some people uncomfortable, but moving forward, please, pretty please, stop saying "working-class voters" if you are really just talking about white people.

15 comments:

  1. King is right. Bernie is also right, the system is rigged and it is not for the 99%. Dems need to reject the big money. If a wealthy Dem wants to give away money, let them give it to charity, not to politicians. The 99% won't be sure that the Dems are working for us until they do.
    The Republicans think they are being slick about Trumpcare, but Peggy Noonan, a Republican, has an interesting take on their tone-deafness. https://patriotpost.us/opinion/47928
    And the Green Party is making a very strong showing in the Netherlands. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/world/europe/geert-wilders-dutch-netherlands-election.html?_r=0
    If the 2 major parties continue to ignore the voters, a new party is a strong possibility.

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  2. Two very important 3020 a case last week held some interesting results and nothing has been written about it. Why? Chapter Leader Marilyn Martinez was removed just before the February break and was served with lighting speed her 3020 a charges. The next day her 3020 a hearing began! How is this possible? So her case skips over all the other cases in front of her? I though it took at least a 12 to 18 months in the rubber room before a case is heard because of all the other cases that a head of it. Now some case are allowed to make it to the top of the heap? Beside on what?
    This is something that is important to know why, and what the reason is behind it.
    Is it legal? What is the legality behind it? This teacher is being target more than they target the average teacher! Please we want to know why this case came up so fast compared to the others.
    Next the case of Mr.Hertz!! Very important! An arbitrator ruled that charges must be put in writing within 90 days! First what is the name of this great arbitrator who ruled against the DOE. He will of course be fired by the DOE soon and the uft will approve of it. But to the more important question does not this ruling set a precedent? Isn't that why the DOE is taking this case to federal court to get it overturned because they know it will set a precedent? Excuse me but are these not important questions that someone should be answering or talking about? Why have we not heard anything for these two ground breaking 3020 A cases?

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  3. I mean I know you wrote something about it but how about answering the 2 questions?
    How is this 3020 a being brought up at lighting speed while the others take 12 to 18 months to be heard? This just happened with in a week of being charged. I never saw anything like it! We want to know why? What is happening? Who is the arbitrator? Who is the DOE Lawyer? Who is the Uft Lawyer?
    And of course the very important case ruling of the Hertz case! Does this set a precedent for all other cases of 90 days limit!!! These are very important questions and these case must be studied and reported in detail!

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    Replies
    1. Why do you think I have answers? I only write what I know about. I don't do any digging. That's above my pay grade.

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    2. ��
      I hope this isn't being rude but 8:07 pm's response has made my week.

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  4. I am sorry for asking then. I thought Ed notes would be above your pay grade also, but you still write about important matters, that our union who dose get paid with our union dues keeps us in the dark.
    I did not know that you got paid of writing ed notes. I though you did it for the good of all our brothers and sisters teachers who get no help from the uft. I thought you did it justice. I would think that these questions that I asked are very important to all teachers and it is every teachers obligation to dig and find answers because our union won't and sides with the doe. I certain will be digging for the answers and try and share it will as many as I can. It benefits us all to know the answer as to where or not the last ruling on a 90 day write up sets a precedence. Because saying its above my pay is like saying I am an appointed teacher. The ATR is not my problem or is above my pay to look into. It can effect all of us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Don't get all excited - I was joking. I am too lazy to do that kind of work and I am not good a looking into things but will publish what you find.

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  5. Thank you. We need to stick to get, and keep each other informed. God knows the uft won't do it. They side with the DOE.
    Thank you once again and please keep us informed with Marilyn Martinez case let us know what we can do to help.

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    Replies
    1. Wait...didn't Ed say he wasn't going to dig but he will post your findings @ 12:23am?
      Are you an educator @12:23am?

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  6. @6:56...We have a Third Party, and that is Trumpism. He is as close to a third party winner as u will ever see here. He is hated by both the establishment Dems. and GOP, making him a third party candidate. Actually, the McCains and McConnells of the world hate him far worse than most Dems. And you have the third party in Europe too, and that is Brexit movement.

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    1. What's missing is a valid 4th party - a social democrat Bernie/fdr agenda party. The dems will never be that. We are in 1850s territory. Actually the republicans now are the trump party because most of them have little spine to oppose him. Mccain is the rare bird. Given Arizona is beginning to shade to dems if he were younger I could see him switching parties.

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  7. Too bad the 3rd party is not more like the Green Party.

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  8. 5:30-- You're right, Trump is kind of a 3rd party. Watch Reps go back to the Super Delegates (if voters let them). Neo-liberal Dems will invent the Super Pooper Delegates (if voters let them) as insurance in case the regular Super Delegates get any crazy ideas. This whole thing sort of sounds like what happened in the UFT when the UFT could no longer control the HS reps.

    Greens are still standing. And independents are growing, they could go Green.

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