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|
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 2017In 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.