By Alex Ubokudom
Hey y’all! Look, I admit it. I’m a millennial black man and I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter. Guilty as charged. I believe in his message, I believe in his vision, and I believe he acts like Larry David—and I LOVE Larry David. I honestly think that he is the only candidate in the race to represent at least a semblance of my principles.
That’s why I’m taking this opportunity to write to you Bernie Bros. Hey, take it easy, partner. I’m your friend out in these parts. I want to see Bernie win as much as you do. But here’s the thing, with the shellacking Sanders took from HRC this the last Super Tuesday, he needs all the help he can get. So I feel compelled to tell you guys that you’re fucking everything up! You are.
The horrendous media coverage is helping you out, but you guys are doing some of the damage yourselves. Your tactics are about as persuasive as abstinence camp. Somebody forgot to teach y’all how to talk to people. So, I’m going to help you all out and give you a couple pointers on how to talk to a particular group Bernie needs to do well with in a hurry—black folk. Actually, I’m going to show you how not to talk to black folk. Below are five no-no’s to avoid when trying to convince a black person to vote for Sanders.
- INCESSANT MLK IMAGERY
This one should be obvious, but from some of the mashups I’ve seen online I can see it needs to be addressed. Hey, I get it, Bernie Sanders was greatly influenced by MLK from a social justice standpoint. Those pics of him being carried off by the PoPos while he was chained to a black woman tug at my heart strings every time I see them.
But please leave Dr. King out of the videos! It’s so effing pandery it makes Hilary telling Latinos she’s their abuela look genuine (I know pandery is not a word, but quit being a dick for a second, I’m feeling it!). MLK is sacred to many black folk. Some have his pic hung up in the living room right next to Black Jesus (some of dem Jesus’ do be white but we forgive them because being woke is a journey). Be careful with his image, boy boy!
- WAITING ON FOLK TO EVENTUALLY SEE THE LIGHT
This suggests that you have a type of enlightenment that they have yet to reach. There’s a word for this, it’s called condescending. No one wants to be made to feel as though they do not possess the intellectual wherewithal to be as politically discerning as their counterparts. This is Especially true when it’s white people telling black people to be more enlightened. It will only end in the offering of many seats to take.
- CONSTANTLY BESMIRCHING HILLARY
This one is a bit tricky. Obviously, Hillary’s record deserves some besmirching and I don’t even know if pointing out a candidate’s sordid history can even be classified as besmirchment (if you can’t tell by now, I like the word besmirch. It feels like something you would say before you slap someone and challenge them to a duel). With that being said, pointing out Hillary’s negative traits doesn’t actually speak to the concerns that many black people have with the Sanders candidacy.
From what I can gather, there are many black supporters of Clinton who are doubtful that Sanders can win in the general. With Donald Drumpf all but guaranteeing that a Drumpf presidency would bring back public lynchings, many black voters are willing to put up with Hillary’s blatant shortcomings if that means a better chance of defeating Drumpf come the general. Appeal to folks’ logic instead of assuming they aren’t using any. So, instead of just bashing HRC, you might point to her weaknesses as a general election candidate, or the fact that Democrats generally win elections with high voter turnout and Sanders has record breaking crowds while HRC campaign has an enthusiasm problem. Hillary has a very bad history of making avoidable yet huge blunders as a campaigner (e.g. Trap queens funeral and the Chicago tweets), and Bernie out-performers Trump in all the poles and at a larger margin than HRC.
- DON’T TAKE SHOTS AT THE PRESIDENT
This one’s very simple. Don’t suggest that Sanders would be even better for black Americans than Obama. Just don’t do it. It’s not a smart move, Chief. Even if you have some valid points, no one’s trying to hear that shit son!! Even Cornell West tones down the Obama bashing when he’s campaigning for Bernie, and he hates Obama more than Ted Cruz hates all of humanity. You got to realize, white Bernie brethren, Obama sings Al green, says shit like “pop off” during press conferences and is married to Michelle—MICHELLE! Truth be told, all that stuff might not matter but it’s just not smart for white folks to attack the first black president when your trying to appeal to black people. You not gonna win this one bruh—best to fall back.
- DON’T TREAT BLACK FOLKS LIKE CHILDREN
You might make the most persuasive, informative argument for Bernie and still end up not changing the person’s mind. That’s because black adults are GROWN ASS ADULTS and can think for themselves. They just may not see things like you do. I know, it’s hard for me to grasp that anyone would ever disagree with me too (seriously, I think I’m as persuasive as the serpent in Eden). That’s not to say that sometimes people aren’t, at times, misinformed. For instance, my mother doesn’t pay attention to politics like I do, so sometimes I have to inform her of certain things when we discuss politics. But, here’s the thing: I know my mama. Don’t think that because you read Gallup polls about Af-American sentiment that you all of the sudden know the collective black political yearning.
Look y’all, I know you might feel a bit defensive of me calling ya out like this, but someone needs to tell you the shit you’re doing isn’t working. Think of this less as criticism and more as encouragement. Does that sound condescending? Oh my bad, for a second I thought you were black.
Alex Ubokudom is the creator of the YouTube sketch variety show, BOK TV. He is an actor, satirist, and the resident Michael Jackson Historian for all of Kings County. Alex received half of his tutelage on the mean middle-class streets of Southfield, MI where he had to memorize Tupac lyrics to impress his fellow Detroiters. His formal schooling came from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and The American Conservatory Theater – don’t get it twisted, the brother is classically trained. He is a proud first generation Nigerian-American, as his family is of the Annang people.