A letter from the movement to the movement

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Template:TOCnestleft A letter from the movement to the movement was written in September 2019.

As described at Splinter:[1] "...dozens of prominent black progressive leaders condemned the “hateful, violent, and racist threats” they said have been leveled by “self-identified Bernie Sanders supporters” against black leaders in the wake of the Working Families Party’s endorsement of Elizabeth Warren for president."

Letter text

This week, the Working Families Party (WFP) issued an endorsement of Presidential contender Elizabeth Warren. For months, the WFP engaged its supporters, members, and chapters in a process meant to equip everyone with the tools to make an informed decision.

It was brave of the WFP to make an early endorsement, and it signals that the WFP is ready to be a real contender for power. Risks are important in politics — the courage to take an early stand and put it all on the line is an indication that much is at stake in this political moment, for all of us.

The WFP made a decision, with its members and supporters and staff, and there is now conflict over the substance of that decision. But let’s also be clear — the WFP is under new leadership. For the first time in its history, Maurice Moe Mitchell, a Black man with decades of experience building movements and strengthening our democracy, alongside Nelini Stamp, a working class, woman of color and a gifted organizer with a long list of accomplishments, are now at the helm of the Party, where they should be. And apparently, some folks aren’t happy about it.

These incredible leaders who led an organization to take a risk by lifting up the leadership of Black, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander and white communities in coalescing around a candidate with enough time to engage their communities deeply ahead of the 2020 election, are being threatened on a daily basis, by self-identified Sanders supporters, with hateful, violent and racist threats. “Uncle Tom.” “Slave.” “Cunt.” These kinds of threats have no place in our movements, and are reminiscent of the threats Black people would receive when daring to vote even though the white supremacists would try and discourage Black people from doing so.

The virulent, racist attacks on these leaders are unacceptable and dangerous. What do we do when racism and sexism is present in progressive movements? What is the prospect of strengthening democracy when old habits just won't die?

Many of us, the undersigned, are no stranger to these kinds of attacks—too many of us receive threats like these ones every day because we dare to organize our people towards freedom. But if we hope to take back this democracy, if we dare to struggle for electoral justice, if we really want a world where Black lives do in fact matter, all of us must take a stand against these real and persistent threats.

Online attacks, threats and smears against Black leaders are unacceptable — especially when there is so much at stake for our movements. While we punch horizontally, those who have real power over our lives take advantage of our disintegration and our disorganization. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and perhaps a number of other candidates would be much better than what we’ve got now. And that is the real fight ahead of us.

We refuse to concede to white terror from the Left as well as the Right. We can argue about the differences between Sanders and Warren, but not if we can’t be distinguished from our real opposition.

As Black leaders in this movement, we are calling on each other to keep reaching for each other, even when it gets hard, even when we disagree, even when we’re disappointed. We demand that the Sanders campaign unequivocally denounce the racism in its ranks, and issue a public statement separating themselves from these abhorrent attacks. And we call on our movement to recommit to the real fight ahead of us. Democracy isn’t built in a day, and the WFP will need us, Sanders supporters and Warren supporters, to come together to defeat one of the most serious threats to peace and justice in our lifetimes. We cannot wait to make justice real amongst the resisters — our lives literally depend on each other.