In Her Own Words: The Political Beliefs of the Protester Who Interrupted Bernie Sanders


#109: To expand on this somewhat, if you're an ageist who doesn't care about seniors (both black and white) who are dependent on social security, why should they respect you? If you don't care about other marginalized people or cultivating allies, how are you going realistically going to build a coalition capable of carrying out political change No one got converted at that rally. People sympathetic of BLM remain sympathetic, those who don't care remain apathetic. But of course, given that she doesn't care about the white gaze, I suppose having zero impact was perfectly okay.
Wow. The enlightened walk a narrow path.
The vitriol this raises in some people is classic. I hope for opening of minds and hearts. It may rankle you, you may not love their tones of voice, but don't we need to disrupt the apathy? Can we continue to live in a partial state of apartheid? There are many different experiences of life, and that can shape your opinions and perceptions. Easy to critique, and nothing is perfect, but isn't it better than nothing that some people are again temporarily awakened from the persistent slumber of ignoring a bad status quo?

I appreciate the thoughtful comments and discussion in general (and mind you, we wouldn't be having a discussion where we not just talk but listen, if it weren't for this minor disruption caused by these activists). I see your point in regard to her quote in the article, "I would say that anybody who hears me say that, and thinks about their feelings first, is a white supremacist." As i hear the term "white supremacist", it implies a motivation to maintain white supremacy. I see the distinction you make between someone saying "I really don't think you're getting this, and that's in part due your own sheltered white existence" versus saying "If you don't get it, you're a white supremacist." But there may be a point at which you've had enough chances to "get it" and if you don't by then, you're kind of remaining willfully ignorant and that is a kind of action in itself. Once you have a chance to be aware, then silence becomes complicity. Inaction becomes complicity.

Similar though a bit different for the word "racist" -- many people hear it to mean a motivation to maintain racial injustice -- although to some people (mostly academic) it's been refigured to mean a way that people can be without intending to, and also to refer to a system that incorporates structural racism. It's not just conscious attitudes but also unconscious assumptions and structural matters. I know i'm racist. Not intentionally, and i try not to be, but i know that i am unavoidably racist even while i try to be actively anti-racist. She might mean "white supremacist" in a similar way, to mean people whose effective actions (or lack of action) perpetuates white supremacy even if that's not their intention. She's in a different world, as she says in the interview.

But i looked past that when i read her quote, "I would say that anybody who hears me say that, and thinks about their feelings first, is a white supremacist." I was struck by the phrase "anybody who hears me say that, and thinks about their feelings first" and it didn't occur to me to be bothered by the phrase "white supremacist", i was just thinking about the relativity of experience based on whether you grow up white or black.

As to whether we need disruptions, i'd say we do because we had the dignified voice of Dr King saying this decades ago, and has it changed yet?

"" I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.""

And isn't it great that now Bernie is meeting proactively with BLM and really listening, that is great. To me, that doesn't mean they protested the wrong person, but the right person -- to push the best candidate further. And also to show that the electoral process, no matter how good it seems at the time, hasn't worked yet, so how do we expect it to work even now, even with someone like Bernie? There have been Bernie's in the past and has the system changed much? Some but not that much in my reckoning.
She seems like the Lyndon LaRouche of Black Lives Matter. I remember in the 80's LaRouche used to say he was helping the democrats by viciously attacking every major Democratic candidate. More recently, putting a Hitler mustache on Obama. It's politics of chaos and at best misguided. At worst, a right wing plant.
I am torn. Three months ago, I would've been much less willing to even hear Ms. Johnson's take. Now, I can honestly hear her, and appreciate the human place she's coming from; as much as a white male can get what she's saying, I get what she's saying. I especially appreciated: "Even if I did hate white people, I don't have the political or social power to oppress white people. And it's verifiably false [that I hate white people]. So flip that. The question is actually, Do you love black people? To the extent that you are literally willing to sacrifice your life. Are you on some Underground Railroad type stuff, or are you not?" I mean, I do have to question how a personal truth is verifiable. In this era almost completely devoid of the benefit of the doubt, activists especially should know a person's word has to be tested and proven in a lab. So how do you verify something like that? Do you get your friends to say, "Oh, Marissa? No, she loves white people"? Do you pull up employment records and performance reviews to verify that you have worked harmoniously above, below, and beside whites in the past? That sounds suspiciously like when a white person says, "Oh, I don't hate black people. Hell, I have three or four black friends." That tangent aside, I love the question, "Do you love black people?" I mean, like do you REALLY love them the way you love other whites at the societal level? I'll be mulling that one over for a bit.

It also makes sense why they went after Bernie's speech instead of a republican's. The other "side" places little to no emphasis on institutional racism; it's just not a priority to the right, and there's no pretense suggesting otherwise. They would've been screaming at a wall of indifferent eyebrows.

I do take issue with: " people don't need to reach out to Bernie Sanders. If anything, Bernie Sanders should have been courting—before he went to any other major city—he should have been courting BLM." We have become a culture in constant competition to determine whose suffering is worth more—Caitlyn Jenner or a grievously injured American soldier, teenagers or twentysomethings, blacks or the impoverished, homosexuals or women. Nothing will divide a gentry faster than everyone thinking they have it the worst, that THEIR problems need to be first on the list because THEIR problems have a higher value than the adversities of others vying for the cellar. I realize there is a sense of urgency here, but I think the Monarch of Sufferdom sentiment, whether it be that of Ms. Johnson or of BLM itself, is overt oneupmanship, and it smacks of self-coronation.

It is this same sense of urgency inherent in the longstanding oppression of blacks (Ms. Johnson herself calls American [socio]politics "the system that has never, ever, ever, ever done anything for black people and never will") that drives this "agitating [of] the political scene," so the logical question to leave off with is: Will the changes Bernie has made—and I'm sure will continue to make (he's running for president after all)—to his narrative be enough? Will he convince those who need convincing that he truly believes that black lives matter?

If you read this, I thank you and I love you.
@103 "I've read the girls' subsequent interviews and social media posts." Why did you read them if you weren't looking to understand their intentions or what they meant?

re "I have my own life and challenges. I know that you, Johnson and her ilk do not care or cannot imagine what those challenges may be." Likewise. I hope your challenges become less challenging. Assuming you're white (which inherently means less challenges in this country), I suspect you're correct that Johnson doesn't care to hear about your problems.

re "that we should all carve out more space in our lives to dedicate to someone that labels people "white supremist" without ever speaking to any of them." She actually was speaking to them/you; many in attendance heckled her and yelled for her to be tazed. If that's the reaction coming from a supposedly progressive crowd while she's trying to assert her value as a human, I sympathazie with her viewpoint. When I heard her explanation on the TWIB interview, it made me stop and think new things I hadn't thought before.

But I see a problem - you cannot get past the fact she used the words "racist" or "white supremacist". You simply hear those words and turn-off. Yes indeed, still lots of learning to do.
@108 I had to look into what that meant after hearing the TWIB interview too, but "white gaze" ≠ "white people looking" at her.
if it's truly about police brutality then #AllLivesMatter, because the way it seems #NoLivesMatter to police.

"you cannot get past the fact she used the words "racist" or "white supremacist". You simply hear those words and turn-off."

what else is there to do? they've already stereotyped people, do you think the interruptors would listen to anything a "racist-liberal white supremacist" would have to say?
"many in attendance heckled her and yelled for her to be tazed."

Awesome double standard. No need to waste more time addressing your numerous false assumptions (again) when your position is this biased. Funny how you do not even address the constant finger in the face, screaming and chest bumping. The girls were disrespectful throughout and straight up threatening at other points. But they shouldn't be "heckled". Goodnight.
Just want to being to attention, there is a mis-quote of Marissa in this article.

I think you confused "I don't and I never will" as "i'm in another world." (15:30 in the vid).

If you want to clarify and confirm for yourself, this video is cued up to the prompt with Marissa's response:…...

Eli Sander, Please edit your article ASAP, because it's vitally important that the black activists are not being misquoted and that we are respecting the words they actually said.

re "numerous false assumptions" I've tried to clarify some assumptions myself. If you think I've made some, please correct me - I'm trying to learn more about the situation.

re "Funny how you do not even address the constant finger in the face, screaming and chest bumping. The girls were disrespectful throughout and straight up threatening at other points." Yeah, I'm not arguing they weren't "rude" or "disrespectful" - that's how many protests go. Part of their point is that being polite hasn't ever gotten them anywhere.

re threats: They did threaten to shut the event down, which gave them leverage during the protest; they were threatened with PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. Do those balance-out to you?
Mara Willaford's mannerisms in particular were brutish and "physical" throughout. Sticking your finger in someone's face, shoulder bumping, blocking another's path is street playbook for starting a fight. Any seven year old knows this. Either you don't get out much or you are being willfully ignorant due to your bias. Besides the physical aggression, saying things like "come on!" and "we'll burn this down" are not just "rude". Those are called threats.

It is funny how many are criticizing the crowd for just sitting there and allowing the girls to take over the event. "White liberal pussies!" "Typical passive/aggressive Seattle!". Yet here you are whining that one "heckler" may have hurt the girls' feelings by threatening to kick their asses off the stage.
Broad acceptance means more than insisting that people not be judgmental when one wears ill-advised stretch pants to a public political forum to which one was not invited to speak. Not that she ever bothered to request some mic time, or that she successfully alienated some substantial number of potential allies; but like other elements of joyless anarchy, she'll burn that bridge when she comes to it.
Somebody wrote those responses for her. In any case, just like she don't care about us, we don't care about her. She don't affect my life at all and never will :)
There are plenty of cities and towns where the NON black population is only a few (1, 2 or 5 or 10) percent... leaving the overwhelming majority of the population BLACK. If you look at that towns socio-economic condition, it steadily declines... WHY? If you turn over an entire neighborhood, force nearly every NON BLACK person to LEAVE... the town, neighborhood, etc. becomes a SLUM. WHY? If there is/are very few other ethnicities in the area... HOW can it be fair to blame the poor conditions on the people who do not choose to stay there?!
WTF... Get a clue. Until you have seen a family kick holes in the walls of a brand new apartment just so they can watch TV while they are on the toilet you do NOT understand the mentality of these people. I did not say they were 'mental', tho I did think it.