Earlier this week, seven women known as, “Mothers of the Movement,” took front and center at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. They are the mothers of the “martyrs” who inspired the Black Lives Matter movement.
Gwen Carr is the mother of Eric Garner, who, while unarmed, was choked to death by an NYPD police officer, his death captured on video and seen by millions around the world. Sybrina Fulton is the mother of Trayvon Martin killed by George Zimmerman, while he was walking home armed with Skittles and iced tea. Lezley McSpadden is the mother of Michael Brown, who, while unarmed, was gunned down by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
We know their stories. And some believe the leadership of the Democratic Party put them in the spotlight for dubious reasons. Because ultimately, the words, “Black Lives Matter,” only appear one time in the platform of the Democratic Party.
There is no mention in the platform of the specific stories of Garner, Martin or Brown. No mention of Sandra Bland, Jordan Davis, or Tamir Rice or the thousands of other Black men, women and children who have died while in the custody of law enforcement across the country in just the last few years. So, the Mothers of the Movement moment feels like more Democratic symbolism without the substance to effect real law enforcement reform. Symbolism of mourning Black mothers to appease the Democratic Party’s seemingly unshakeable Black base and assuage White guilt perhaps.
It seems like a recurring theme of the 2016 Democratic Convention; Black women, perhaps the most loyal members of the Party, are sent in to clean up the mess (a narrative brilliantly outlined by political strategist Catalina Byrd on First Edition July 25).
On day one of the convention, there was Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the disgraced former chair of the DNC clinging to the privilege of gaveling in the convention, until the gavel was literally snatched from her hands and passed to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake (a Black woman) who opened the convention by proclaiming she is the, “mayor of the great city of Baltimore.” Baltimore is one of the epicenters of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Donna Brazile (a Black woman), a veteran leader of the Democratic Party who ran Al Gore’s bid for the presidency in 2000, was forced to take over for Wasserman Schultz, after the DNC email leak scandal. And it was Brazile, not Wasserman Schultz, who was forced to apologize. “With a humble heart, I want to say something as your vice chair. I sincerely apologize, my friends, for those of you who took offense and were offended, for those inappropriate emails released from the Democratic Party,” Brazile said.
And then of course there was the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama (a Black woman) ending what began as a chaotic first day of the convention, with grace, dignity and elan while delivering one of the great speeches in American political convention history.
There are two questions I keep asking over and over again. One, what’s worse: to have your vote taken (Republicans) or to have your vote taken for granted (Democrats)? Two: is it better to be stabbed in the chest (Republicans) or stabbed in the back (Democrats)?
Once again, that seems to be the terrible choice of Black people, people of color and poor people in this broken two party system. A choice between Hillary Clinton or Dystopian Donald Trump (or if you want to cast a protest vote, Gary Johnson or Jill Stein). As one caller said of the 2016 General Election during the First Edition show on July 25, “If you think somebody is coming for you, you’re on your own.”
Sean Yoes is a senior contributor for the AFRO and host and executive producer of First Edition, which airs Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on WEAA 88.9.