Sanders compared whites to chattel slaves yet ignores the true descendants of slavery

Jan 30 '20 | By Ray

In the mid 1970’s Bernie Sanders was the chairman of the Liberty Union Party, which was a Vermont spinoff group from the Socialist People’s Party. According to interviews obtained by The Daily Beast and other news sources, as chairman of this self-described “radical political party” Sanders, repeatedly compared Vermont white workers to enslaved black people.

In one 1976 conversation, Sanders told a local newspaper that the sale of a privately held mining company by its founders, a company that employed mostly white workers, reminded him of “the days of slavery, when black people were sold to different owners without their consent,” and compared the service economy to chattel slavery.

Reports also show that in a 1977 interview Sanders went on to compare the state of Vermont’s majority all-white population to black slaves, due to the fact that the majority of white’s working in the state were working in the low paying service industry. In the interview Sanders says “Basically, today, Vermont workers remain slaves in many, many ways,” he went on to say, “The problem comes when we end up with an entire state of people trained to wait on other people.”

Yet throughout Sanders political career he has not reciprocated this same sentiment when it comes to black workers, the very descendants of the American chattel slaves who founded the country.

Lately, Sanders arrogance toward the history of American chattel slavery, has been very bold, contradictory, and completely absent when it comes to addressing the plight that black Americans are burdened with as a result of the atrocity their ancestors endured.

And although Sanders has stated that the United States was founded on “racist principles” and has called for an end to “physical, political, legal, economic, and environmental” violence against those who he vaguely describes as “Americans of color,” Sanders has all but ignored black workers specifically, the direct descendants of the chattel slaves he loved to compare his white Vermont voters too.

“The problem comes when we end up with an entire state of people trained to wait on other people.” - Bernie Sanders

Today, the black American descendants of chattel slavery account for a disproportionate amount of low-paying service jobs, such as cashiers, call-center operators, food service workers, security guards, and temp workers  across the states, as compared to higher status jobs paying a living wage, such as the one’s Sanders fought for in Vermont.

The U.S. Labor department is projecting that the service industry which heavily employs black workers is primed to lose millions of jobs over the next 10 years. Projections show that employment in the ‘Office and Administration support occupations’ alone will lose over 600,000 jobs over the next 8 years, and that’s by modest standards. 

Other occupations such as customer service reps and front line sales people are also expected to take heavy job loses as technology is expected to substitute or completely take over functions that over 25% of black workers traditionally perform.

As the overall labor force participation rate for black workers, like the rate for all race groups, is projected to decline by the year 2026, no single gender/race group is expected to  decline more significantly over the next 8 year than the rate for black men in the U.S. labor force.

Bernie Sanders compelling ignorance of this major issue of unemployment and underemployment plaguing specifically black male descendants of chattel slavery is causing an uneven accord among black voters, who believe that Sanders is playing dumb on the issues, or is just plain out spearheading the demise of black male descendants by completely ignoring their issues.

Sanders who claims to be a champion of fighting income and wealth inequality since before some of his Democratic rivals were born, and regularly brags about being jailed while attending a King rally during the civil rights era, exhibits the thought patterns of what the late Dr. Martin Luther King described as a ‘white moderate.’

Dr. King wrote the following about 'white moderates' in his 1963 letters from a Birmingham Jail –

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, 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.”

One occupation that black men in this land have consistently worked in since before the founding of America is construction. As black chattel slaves, not service workers like those in Bernie’s Vermont, black men & women worked as unpaid free labor, under torturous conditions, and practically built the cornerstones of the American infrastructure we enjoy today.

Historically, after the abolishment of chattel slavery in America, white American workers quickly organized labor unions, and sieged on the opportunity to corner the labor market for industrialist, by consolidating the work force under their unilateral control for the betterment of the ‘white working man.’

Sanders, a good ole boy representing Vermont, who plays possum of the subject of reparations, and the ill effect of America’s blood stained past of chattel slavery, is unequivocally a big time labor union supporter, and is very imaginative when it comes to ways he can directly help promote their interest.

For example, Bernie proposes “card check,” the process by which unions can easily organize a worksite and also supports bailing out underfunded union pension plans by raising taxes on wealthy Americans.

Sanders proposed ‘Keep Our Pension Promises Act’ which targets so-called multi-employer pension plans, typically run by construction unions. Nearly a third of these construction union pension plans are seriously underfunded and heading toward insolvency, for reasons such as failure of their unions trustees to invest wisely.

Yet while Bernie expresses his attentiveness and concern for majority white construction labor unions, and as employment in the construction labor market is expected to grow much faster than all other areas of occupation over the next decade, many black workers, particularly the sons of those that built the nation, black male descendants of chattel slavery, are all but denied traditional access to high paying construction union trades.

In exchange for careers as skilled tradesmen, the majority of black men entering the construction trade unions are herded into what Calvin Clinton, the President of the African American Workers Union (AAWU) describes as the ‘Jim Crow Construction Scheme,’ comprised of ‘pre-apprenticeships’  and ‘Title 3’ work force initiatives that far too often leads black workers back to unemployment lines. 

The practice of immediately firing or laying off black construction workers once local hiring requirements have been satisfied, or the project has ended, which ever comes first, is commonly referred to in the industry as the 'One & Done' policy. The 'One & Done' policy is responsible for deterring thousand of black construction workers from become professional tradespeople. 

VIDEO: Calvin K. Clinton, President of AAWU explains the 'Jim Crow Construction Scheme' 

Senator Sanders who has been very imaginative when creating solutions for his state, labor unions, and immigrant workers,  has not yet written nor sponsored any legislation that would drastically help struggling black descendants of American slavery, being victimized by the discriminatory practices of the construction unions he wants to bolster.

Moreover, Senator Sanders has also co-sponsored legislation like the’ Employ Young Americans Now Act,’ which provided billions in immediate funding to employ one million youth, and included registered apprenticeships as the focus of the spending. But on the other hand Bernie has come up short on good ideas to help black men like he immediately helped other groups. 

Today, if you take a look at just the mid-western United States, you will see in states all across that region that the black male unemployment rate is at alarming numbers, with Illinois being the worst of the bunch. All across American in other states such as New York, Texas, and California the black male unemployment rate is averaging emergency levels. Even after the stimulus packages of Bush, the quantitative easing of Obama, and the dramatic posturing of Trump, the overall unemployment number for black workers as a whole is still double that of white workers in America.

The historic fact that black unemployment has always been double, or even more than double that of white workers, finds its roots in government sponsored chattel slavery.

This constant variable in the labor force has effectively created an economic firewall between black workers aspirations and white workers success, a firewall that has become a silent dog whistle for white moderates such as Bernie Sanders, when he preposterously labels white working class voters as “slaves,” while completely ignoring the true descendants of America’s original sin, BLACK PEOPLE.


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