by Jim Rigby
Minister at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church - Austin, Texas
One of the political quotes of the year passed by almost unnoticed the other day. I cannot find the quote on Google, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said something like, “I don’t come from the left, I come from the bottom.”
In a nutshell, that is why privileged liberals and conservatives alike cannot hear what progressives are saying, and find them divisive utopians. Progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Talib are not trying to be difficult or even purists. They are refusing to leave marginalized populations behind in the traditional devil’s bargains that are so comfortable for America’s upper and middle classes, but that leave vulnerable populations in dire straights.
What does it mean to make peace in an unjust power hierarchy? Does it mean to stifle the cries of those oppressed so they do not disturb our comfort, or does it mean to destroy the hierarchy altogether so all may join the beloved community?
People of Color have been cheated by this country for three hundred years. How long should they wait for this nation to reshuffle the deck and give out a fair deal? Jesse Jackson wrote in yesterday’s Charleston Chronicle about how the housing collapse targeted People of Color:
“The banks particularly prey on the vulnerable, regularly pleading guilty of discriminating against African Americans and Latinos. Long after the bailout, for example, JPMorgan Chase paid $53 million to settle charges that it had discriminated against minority borrowers by charging them more for a mortgage than white customers.
“…For decades, the banks red-lined minority areas, depriving residents of access to mortgages or loans for small business development. Then, when the banks inflated the housing bubble, they targeted minority neighborhoods, peddling predatory mortgages to customers who they knew could not afford them. As one former Wells Fargo mortgage broker explained in a sworn affidavit, “The company put ‘bounties’ on minority borrowers. By this I mean that loan officers received cash incentives to aggressively market subprime loans in minority communities.” At the height of the rapacious lending boom, nearly 50 percent of all loans given to African American families were deemed “subprime.” The New York Times described these contracts as “a financial time bomb.””
“…A rising African American middle class was eviscerated. In 2012, the National Fair Housing Alliance reported that African Americans suffered “the largest loss of wealth for these communities in modern history.” Between 2009 and 2012, African Americans lost just under $200 billion in wealth, bringing the gap between white and black wealth to a staggering 20:1 ratio.”
Women have suffered abuse at the hands of patriarchy for even longer. Progressive criticisms of Joe Biden are not so much directed at him alone, but are trying to unmask a patriarchal mindset so women can have their boundaries as well as their opinions respected.
Tangerine Bolen writes about the Joe Biden controversy in today’s Truthdig:
“Listen, Joe, you men do not get to tell me the difference between affection and sneaky-ass touching and groping. You do not get to tell me that walking up behind me and grasping me by the shoulders is even remotely OK. You do not get to tell me that inhaling my body’s scent is normal, rather than intimate, behavior. And you certainly don’t get to tell me how I should feel about the man with whom I am not connected actually doing it. You do not get to define the nature of my personal space for me. Get it?
It’s not that progressives do not understand the need to compromise, they are just tired of the most vulnerable people being used as the bargaining chips. There are certainly extremist and unpleasant examples to be found in progressive circles, but liberals and conservatives cannot even hear what progressives are saying until it is understood they are not coming from the left, but from the bottom.
Original Posting here.