Watching these exhausting debates closely

Rev. Irene Monroe
Rev. Irene Monroe


Did you watch Tuesday night’s Democratic debate? The race to the White House for Democrats is an exhausting one, and I’m simply watching the battle on television.

The topic of President Trump’s xenophobia and racism will dominate these debates. All of them gave excellent responses to these issues. And spiritual guru Marianne Williamson was trending on social media for hers. However, of the lineup, none of the candidates have a good relationship with people of color, even the candidates of color. The below-mentioned ones were the top three in Tuesday’s debate, and they are the ones black communities are eyeing closely.


Elizabeth Warren is the sharpest and most prepared candidate of the entire brood. Warren was stop-on when she admonished her Democratic presidential hopefuls that they “should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that health care.” However, her mishandling by claiming Native American ancestry is still a pox on her credibility. While most white Americans I’ve spoken to about this matter feel it will merely blow over, just the opposite response I receive from people of color. And, when it comes to African American women, since we’re a powerful voting bloc, Warren is no Hillary.

Warren is making the right inroads to the black community. She attended last month’s Essence Festival, an annual gathering of sisters in New Orleans. She impressed them with addressing issues impacting black communities. However, Warren cannot shake that she used her Native American ancestry to advance her career.

According to the Association of American Law Schools desk book, a directory of law professors, Warren listed herself as a minority for nearly a decade from 1986 -1995. Thatb is the same year she left the Republican party to join the Democratic party. And is also the same year she was hired at Harvard.

“I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group, or something that might happen with people who are like I am. Nothing like that ever happened. That was clearly not the use for it, and so I stopped checking it off,” Warren told reporters in Braintree, Massachusetts in 2012.

For many African American women, Warren’s only wooing their votes.


Bernie Sanders gets a nod from African Americans because as he says, “I was actually at the March on Washington with Dr. King back in 1963.” When Sanders wants to boast his consistent support of black causes and candidates, he’ll tell us about Jesse.

“As somebody who actively supported Jesse Jackson’s campaign—as one of the few white elected officials to do so in ’88—I have dedicated my life to the fight against racism and sexism and discrimination of all forms.”

While we know Sanders comes from one of the whitest states—with less than two percent African Americans—he still hasn’t quite grasped how his brilliant economic solutions to the country’s ills don’t fully address income disparity, mass incarceration, police brutality, to name a few, when it comes to black people. Sanders proposes to restore voting rights to incarcerated people is wonderful, since he was one of several elected officials to support Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill that encouraged states to adopt stricter sentencing laws in exchange for additional federal funding. This bill helped to create the industrial prison complex.

“I voted for that because for a couple of reasons,” Sanders told the “Breakfast Club” a black radio show. “One of the things, it’s a fair question, but as you know a lot of bills have a lot of stuff in it. And if I hadn’t voted for that, you’d be saying to me how come you voted against the Violence Against Women Act? How come you voted against the effort to deal with some gun safety legislation, which was included in that? That was a ban, I recall, on banning assault weapons, something that I believe in.”


I like Mayor Pete, and I now can pronounce his surname correctly most times. Like Warren, Buttigieg is one of the sharpest candidates. He’s refreshing. For me, Buttigieg is the hope for a sincerely multicultural and participatory government. However, some blunders a candidate can’t shake, especially when it comes to a cop killing another unarmed black man in these streets of America.

“My community is in anguish right now because of an officer-involved shooting—a black man, Eric Logan, killed by a white officer. I’m not allowed to take sides until the investigation comes back. The officer said he was attacked with a knife, but he didn’t have his body camera on. It’s a mess, and we’re hurting,” Buttigieg stated in first Democratic debate.

Blacks are tagged as being the most homophobic. However, it wasn’t Pete’s sexual orientation that caused him to lose black support between two mayoral runs. Buttigieg struggles to win confidence with South Bend’s black community was not only about a police shooting. It was, too, about several failed initiatives, one of which was his abandoned and vacant house initiative that targeted longstanding black enclaves. Many felt his goal was gentrification to attract white college-educated professionals.

Wednesday night I’ll be watching again. The lineup of interest will be Biden, Harris, and Booker. I’ll give my 411 on them next time. However, while some Americans think Harris isn’t black enough, Booker should come out, and Biden is too old, all I want is to wake up from this present nightmare.

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