Massachussetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren delivered a speech at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute that has electrified the country and offered some hope that the politicians that we elect to represent us in office actually have some clue as to what our lives are like. The fundamental purpose of having individuals elected to office is that the people can be represented through a smaller number of voices. What we have gotten is a bunch of power hungry self-interested social climbers who will exploit the will of the people to meet their own ends.
For full text of Elizabeth Warrens speech click here.
Enter Elizabeth Warren
Warren was elected to Senate in 2012 making it her mission to fight for the middle class. Warren is a charismatic speaker and the battles that she chooses to fight resonate with those everyday Americans that usually feel forgotten in political discourse. Most recently Warren outdid herself with her speech on racial inequality. Warren discussed the tools of oppression and made statements in a way that I do not think I have ever heard come from a White politician or even a White person in general. During her speech, Warren stated:
Economic justice is not – and has never been – sufficient to ensure racial justice. Owning a home won’t stop someone from burning a cross on the front lawn. Admission to a school won’t prevent a beating on the sidewalk outside. But when Dr. King led hundreds of thousands of people to march on Washington, he talked about an end to violence, access to voting AND economic opportunity. As Dr. King once wrote, “the inseparable twin of racial injustice was economic injustice.”
There are not many White politicians who will admit that the issues plaguing the Black community are not just economical or legislative. In this statement Warren acknowledges the multiple layers that are embedded in the struggle of Black Americans. Not one over the other but simultaneously as twin obstacles. Then Warren went on to say:
I speak today with the full knowledge that I have not personally experienced and can never truly understand the fear, the oppression, and the pain that confronts African Americans every day. But none of us can ignore what is happening in this country. Not when our black friends, family, neighbors literally fear dying in the streets.
– Elizabeth Warren
Perfection. Warren doesn’t superficially acknowledge the struggle of Black America and she doesn’t make the politically correct rhetoric that we are used to hearing when they want to acknowledge that as a White person they cannot completely understand the position that Black people are in in this country. Warren makes a very pragmatic analytical conclusion that she does not understand first hand what Black people endure but that her ability to do so is of no consequence to the fact that she knows that Black people are enduring a situation that is unacceptable simply because it is unacceptable for anyone.
It never ceases to amaze me how some people can be so apathetic to an injustice simply because they have no fear of ever having to endure that justice themselves but in short Warren makes it plain as she calls the names of those who we have lost over the past few years to police violence and she says plainly that the images were disturbing. Disturbing enough for her to want to do something about it. She closes with the statement:
The first civil rights battles were hard fought. But they established that Black Lives Matter. That Black Citizens Matter. That Black Families Matter. Half a century later, we have made real progress, but we have not made ENOUGH progress. As Senator Kennedy said in his first floor speech, “This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue, to be resolved through political means.” So it comes to us to continue the fight, to make, as John Lewis said, the “necessary trouble” until we can truly say that in America, every citizen enjoys the conditions of freedom.
– Elizabeth Warren
Go ‘head Elizabeth!
There is a repetitive theme that often plays our when non-Black people take up the fight in an effort to be an ally to those in the struggle. Usually it is because there is such a large disparity between their desire to do ‘the right thing’ and their understanding of what it is that we’re doing. This often leads to misunderstanding and a sense of objectification for one of the two involved. From this misunderstanding the central topic then becomes non-Black people in Black spaces and how they should be treated and whether or not “reverse racism” is a motivating factor in the over-protection that Black people have developed for their activism. The whole thing is a waste of time because the energy spent entertaining such a discussion could be used to strike at the system of oppression that has brought them together in the first place.
We would wish that there were more White allies in similar positions with an in depth understanding of the civil rights battle that we are fighting. That is what most struck me as I listened to Warren’s speech. She spoke with the kind of sincerity that comes from understanding. There were no overused coinphrases or cyclical sound bites driving her message. It was rooted in something real and I would like to believe that what that is, is genuine passion.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man