Why Democrats Are Still Confused by the Black Lives Matter Movement

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty

Why BLM activists think the Democratic presidential candidates’ outreach to the movement has been largely superficial.

As she watched the recent Democratic debate, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner felt her party could take great pride in offering the country a substantive discussion, in contrast to the three-ring circus taking place on the other side. But as the lone question relating to the lives of 41.7 million African Americans was tossed to CNN’s Don Lemon, Turner, a political and social activist, was among many African Americans who had reason to cringe.

The “black question” was about as facile as it gets, with all due respect to the “real person” chosen to deliver it: “Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?”

Cue the now well-rehearsed responses of the leading Democratic candidates, who in the recent past have been tripped up by their curious failure to prepare to respond to the most notable civil rights movement of the present era. The course correction goes something like this:

“Of course black lives matter,” says Senator Sanders in his Brooklyn drawl.

“You bet black lives matter!” says Secretary Clinton, with a Midwestern twang.

“Black lives matter? Count me in!” Martin O’Malley chimes in, glancing warily around the room as if to make sure no one’s planning a follow-up about his time as Baltimore’s mayor.

It’s not that the BLM movement is not important, says Turner. “It is,” she says. “But it seems the pendulum has swung too far to the superficial, and the media continues to perpetuate a misconception that the African-American community is homogeneous and its needs are singular.”

But it’s not just the media.

“I could not help but think the Democratic presidential candidates believe if they give the shoutout, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ that their obligation to the African-American community has been fulfilled,” Turner continues. “The fact of the matter is the lives of African Americans in this country matter deeply. They matter in the workplace and the schoolhouse. [They] matter in the criminal justice space and at the ballot box. They matter in the community. We need a nominee who understands that ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not a box to check off. It is one of many powerful battle cries of a people whose political prowess provides a loyal base for the Democratic Party.”

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Source: Daily Beast | Joy-Ann Reid