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Grand jurors in Texas declined to indict any law enforcement officials in connection with the death of Sandra Bland, 28, who was found dead in her Waller County jail cell on July 13, 2015. The Waller County grand jurors deliberated for eight hours before issuing their decision. The jail’s officials claim Bland committed suicide, but her family, activists, and the prosecutor reject this claim. Darrell Jordan, a special prosecutor handling the case, said that “the case is still open,” and other charges will be considered in 2016.

Political response to Bland’s death varied. White House officials confirmed in July that President Obama was aware of Bland’s death, but also declined to comment. In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said the state trooper was “overly aggressive,” but pivoted to his bigoted base by also stating that “the police have to be given back power.” Hillary Clinton called Bland’s death “disturbing” and said it’s “a tragic reminder of the ongoing systemic issues of race and justice in America that we must address with urgency.” While Trump and Clinton’s rhetoric will sway some voters, presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has taken a direct approach to addressing white supremacy as it relates to the criminal justice system.

After Bland’s death, Sanders released a statement. “No one should be yanked from her car, thrown to the ground, assaulted and arrested for a minor traffic stop. The result is that, three days later, she is dead in her jail cell,” Sanders said. “This video highlights once again why we need real police reform.” The presidential candidate also had dinner with Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, in October. Rev. Hannah Bonner, who was eating with Reed-Veal at Union Station in Washington, D.C., said Sanders didn’t use the impromptu dinner for political gain. Instead, “he simply made space for a sacred moment, and then let it pass without trying to gain anything from it,” Bonner wrote in a blog post.

Sanders, did, however, vow to continue raising awareness about Bland’s death. He kept that commitment during the first Democratic presidential debate in October. When asked if Black lives matter or all lives matter, Sanders replied, “Black lives matter and the reason those words matter is the African-American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car and then three days later she could end up dead, in jail, or their kids are going to get shot. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom and we need major reforms in a broken criminal justice system in which we have more people in jail than China. I intend to tackle that issue to make sure our people have education and jobs instead of a jail cell.”

Now, after the grand jury failed to issue indictments, Sanders used his platform to advocate for Bland again. In a statement released on Twitter, Sanders said, “Sandra Bland should not have died while in police custody. There’s no doubt in my mind that she, like too many African-Americans who die in police custody, would be alive today if she were a white woman. My thoughts are with her family and loved ones tonight. We need to reform a very broken criminal justice system.”

If Bland were a white woman, she never would’ve been pulled over, threatened, or arrested. Her innocence would’ve been presumed. Bernie Sanders acknowledgement of this injustice should strengthen a fractured relationship between him, a white male politician, and a Black female base he’ll need to earn the nomination and the office. Black female voters between the ages of 18 and 39 had the highest voter turnout rate in 2012’s presidential election, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. Our voting bloc is one of the strongest, and is needed to win an election.

Bernie Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, has a tenuous relationship with Black voters, according to Janell Ross, a Washington Post political reporter.

“He isn’t someone many black people know, have been exposed to and, because of the racially insular nature of most Americans’ social networks, wasn’t someone most black Americans had heard of until he became a presidential candidate,” Ross wrote in October.

Former Ohio state senator, Nina Turner, endorsed Sanders in November after being a staunch Clinton supporter.

“I’m very attracted by his message and his style – and that he has held pretty much strong on his beliefs and the world is catching up with him,” Turner told Cleveland.com.

Those beliefs, including equal pay for equal work and advocating for voting rights, align with the issues Black female voters are concerned about. Essence Magazine partnered with the Black Women’s Roundtable to survey 1,862 Black women about their political interests. Key issues for Black women include affordable healthcare, criminal justice reform, access to reproductive healthcare, voting rights, and paid family leave. Yet, these issues are often undervalued, though Black female voters are critical to national elections.

Though Sanders has unveiled a racial justice plan that includes the ambitious goals of investing in community policing, demilitarizing police forces, and banning for-profit prisons, it wasn’t until intense pressure from Black Lives Matters activists that Sanders pivoted from his economic inequality platform. The idea that Sanders had to be pressured into addressing racial injustice doesn’t appeal to Black female voters, who have consistently ranked racial injustice as one of their primary concerns when choosing a candidate.

Yet, Sanders willingness to say Bland’s name, address institutional racism, and fight for voting rights is worthy of consideration among Black female voters.

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  • “. The idea that Sanders had to be pressured into addressing racial injustice doesn’t appeal to Black female voters, who have consistently ranked racial injustice as one of their primary concerns when choosing a candidate.”

    And what of Hillary Clinton? Once again MSM is equating white women as being representative of all women in the US. Yet no one is acknowledging the pay gap between white women and black women or the fact that white women broke for Romney versus Barrack Obama 60 versus 40 percent. Therefore, it was the vote of Black women that skewed the women vote in BO’s favor. How Black politicians can endorse her while glossing over her record of lobbying for mass incarceration during Bill Clinton’s tenure is beyond me.

    • trueletterson*[email protected]

      now you are thinking!

    • I always think.

    • Excellent Words.

    • Reina Benoir

      I agree with you. I must also say, the fact that Bernie Sanders had to be pressured into addressing racial injustice issues doesn’t bother me. I would much rather deal with someone who I can pressure and see movement with than someone who steps up to me as if they know something without bothering to even take what I have to say into consideration. I don’t see Bernie Sanders Whipping and Nae-naeing whilst saying nothing like Mrs. Clinton, so if she thinks she has THIS Black woman’s vote on lock she is highly mistaken.

      Bernie Sanders will explain what he’s about and when you point out what’s missing he makes corrections. WTF has Mrs. Clinton been doing all this time she’s been running for president? This woman seems to think she can just slide into the nomination much like she did when she ran for Senate in NY. I’m not buying it and so far she’s saying nothing. I might get my Black card revoked for saying this but I see no reason why I should vote for her over Bernie Sanders. I don’t need to vote for a woman just to have the first woman president.

    • “I would much rather deal with someone who I can pressure and see movement with than someone who steps up to me as if they know something without bothering to even take what I have to say into consideration.”

      It is not that she doesn’t “knows”. It is because she “lies” — either through revision, omission, and/or select memory. Her favorite thing is to be contrived and imply that others are naive. However, the fact of the matter is that she knows many of the changes that people desire either through civil rights, wall street reform, and even health care reform conflicts with the people who are padding her campaign finances.

      “WTF has Mrs. Clinton been doing all this time she’s been running for president?”

      Getting money from wealthy donors and being paid six-figures to do speeches.

      Hillary Clinton is beyond Shady and one should look over his/her shoulder if he/she is Black. I have known about NAFTA, the dissolving of Glassman Steagall Act, and the so-called welfare reform. I even remembered the three-strike law and the war on drugs. However, I didn’t put all of these things together until BLM started questioning Hillary about the mass incarceration of Blacks under Bill Clinton. That is when I decided to do some additional reading and found that she and Bill essentially threw Black People under the bus in more ways than one.

      To be precise, Bill was elected because of the economic recession under George H Bush and b/c Perot was basically a spoiler. This was after the beating of Rodney King. In that vein, he was supposed to implement a stimulus to improve the economy and bring jobs to distress communities such as the Black community in Los Angeles, CA. However, he couldn’t get the original amount desired (passing a smaller stimulus instead -reduced by the senate) and thus decided to stimulate the economy by increasing the police force nationwide through the federal budget. This coincided with the three strikes rule and the continuation of the war on drugs. Also, as fairly recent, Hillary had just returned donations to two for-profit prison firms which I am certain have donated to her campaign for years. Meanwhile, the dot com boom was happening while slave labor though prisons were enriching some of the endowments of schools such as UC at Berkeley. I sincerely hope she doesn’t win the nomination as there are other reasons in addition to this reason why I distrust her as a public servant.

    • trueletterson*[email protected]

      you are exactly right but for some reason black people just can’t rap their heads around what you just stated, they will bury their heads in the sand when people like you and I tell them the truth about the Clinton’s, to them Hillary Clinton is god like and will save them from those racist republican but the fact is she is just as dangerous and racist as those republican.

    • Truthfully, I consider myself to be an Independent and Progressive. However, I will have to change my affiliation back to Democrat in order to vote in the primaries now that I have moved to a state with closed primaries. Both parties are actually beholden to corporate interests. For republicans it is the coal, oil, wall street, and other manufacturing companies. For the Democratic Party, it is the Wall Street, Pharmaceutical companies, Hollywood, and the IT industry. So, essentially both parties are cut from the same cloth. We are living in a pseudo-plutocratic oligarchy and if we do not turn the tide soon, we will be in one in pure form sure enough. Hillary is banking on the fear of elderly people losing their social security and medicare while there is a drive for Women her age to see a woman as president. However, struggling millennials see through her facade. That is why she and her cohorts are on a PR campaign to give the impression that she is inevitable and have the majority support of all minorities.

    • Indeed.

      We can follow the money trail and see that both parties are funded by Wall Street and other corporate interests. In retrospect, Bill Clinton was never a strong progressive when he was President. I watched Youtube clips of his campaigns and speeches and they were very moderate and conservative to say the least. He was aided by the DLC (which was an outfit that wanted to eliminate any independent, progressive voices in the Democratic Party). To see how Clinton established welfare reform, the Crime Bill, and the elimination of Glass Steagall tells everyone that Bill Clinton is not a fighting progressive leader. Another problem is that both parties have collaborated to prevent third party voices from having massive access to state ballots. That is why I do advocate, if necessary, a federal law to make sure that third party candidates have fair access to state, local, and federal ballots. Also, voting rights have to be strengthened in this country after the Supreme Court gutted parts of the Voting Rights Act. That would expand the democratization process in America. Many Millennials see the handwriting on the wall. I have noticed that Hillary didn’t overtly criticize Bernie Sanders on many issues. She wants the youth vote to go on her side in 2016. There hasn’t been a vote cast in any primary yet, so we shall see who will win the primaries. The one percent via a system of oligarchy has unfortunately dominated Congress.

      You have great insights on political affairs.

    • trueletterson*[email protected]

      she is a smart, well balance, wise, very intelligent and a insightful sister, she is a god sent to this thread.

    • I agree with you. She is a very intelligent Sister.

    • trueletterson*[email protected]

      you are spot on point, but the way I see it is the only way we can defeat the corporate oligarchy is first at the State level because clearly they have gotten control of the federal court system, the executive branch of government, the financial system and because of the citizens naivete they will soon have control of all 50 states and quit frankly I don’t think the America citizens as a whole are smart enough to stop them, Tajmarie you are a god sent please stay plug in.

    • Reina Benoir

      I had meant my comments to be more rhetorical vis a vis what Mrs. Clinton has done since she decided to run for office but the information you’ve provided certainly needs to be seen by more people so thank you for putting it out there.

      Personally, I’ve been done with the Clintons since ’96 exactly because of NAFTA, welfare “reform” and other not very progressive policies put into effect during his first term in his attempts to secure a second term. Bill Clinton ran as a progressive but his actions read as moderate Republican (when such a thing actually existed. I don’t believe there is such an animal today) Bill Clinton may claim to regret his neo-liberal economics policies but he’s a dime short a day late. The damage his policies did continue to resonate to this day. (Such as how people can work full time at some places and still qualify for welfare. It was pushed as a way to help people on welfare so that they wouldn’t lose benefits they needed whilst working but all it did was depress wages and let companies like Walmart and Target keep their wages low and push their labor costs onto the public.)

      Hillary Clinton’s method of running for president mirrors how she ran for Senate from NY. NY is not short of ambitious people but the party basically told people to step aside and let her run. It feels like the DNC is doing exactly that. That is aside from her own shadiness. I guess my initial point was vis a vis Hillary Clinton that she doesn’t plan to actually try to sell you on her policies but rather push any competition out of the way so she is the nominee by default and as such she’s “campaigning” by saying a whole lot of nothing whilst dancing (and doing other nonsensical trifling things) because she feels as though she doesn’t really have to DO anything to earn the vote of voters. She will, of course, bend over backwards to earn the vote of the monied interests all of whom would

      The Democratic party of late seems to be under the impression that if they can scare the crap out of people with the insane imbeciles that the repugnant Republicans put out that they can put just any damn body on the ballot and they don’t have to earn anyone’s vote. They get angry at the notion that one expects a candidate to earn a vote so you can imagine how ugly it can get on more politically minded message boards.

      What is even worse than the Democratic party is the large number of Black politicians who clearly are not interested in what is best for their constituents but rather their own position in the party to begin with. Look at how many are tripping on themselves to endorse Mrs. Clinton before most voters even start paying attention. And you probably already know this but the politicians are super delegates which means they can vote to nominate anyone they want regardless of who the people of their state vote for. Her collecting these super-delegates is an end run around a populist uprising should the voters decide not to vote for her again.

      I shan’t even go into the nonsense that is the Republican field.

      This entire campaign season is a hot damn mess.

  • The Sandra Bland injustice is blatantly clear. Black women voters are very intelligent and they have the right to vote who they want to. Voting rights, health care, mass incarceration, police terrorism, the environment (as water has been polluted in Flint, Michigan), and voting rights are important issues that should be discussed. Many people know about Hillary Clinton’s policy positions. She voted for the Iraqi War resolution. She was once in support of the Crime Bill and other Clinton policies that contributed to the expansion of the prison industrial complex during the 1990’s. On foreign policy, there are similarities between the Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates. Hillary wants a no fly zone in Syria, which is an act of war. She is complicit in the disaster in the sovereign African nation of Libya. GOP candidates are overtly xenophobic, sexist, and racist. Donald Trump is a despicable person. I will never vote for Trump. Therefore, we have, in my opinion, the strangest Presidential election in a generation at least. We have to vote our conscience.

  • Bernie is the real deal. He has been fighting for racial justice and economic justice for 50 years. He is the only candidate I know of to have actually been arrested – and that was when he was demonstrating against segregation and police brutality.

    Bernie is unique in the American political history, He is a serious person who is willing to call bullsht when he sees it. He can take down Trump or any of the other clowns, but that’s not the point.

    The point is that he really, truly gives a dam about people! He has spent as much time in public service as Hillary Clinton, and yet he has a net worth of $600K (mostly his house) and Hillary has somehow managed to amass a fortune of $55 MILLION. How does that happen?

    I’ll tell you: it does not happen by representing the interest of the poor and the oppressed. It happens by working for the rich and the powerful.