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An interview with Marcus Ferrell, candidate for Arizona’s 24th legislative district. Marcus was the National African-American Outreach Coordinator for the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign.
Marcus says being a person of color in the progressive movement is not easy. It reminded me of my own relationship with friends who consider themselves non-progressive Democrats. We are supposed to be allies, but there is a perpetual tension. On the same token, the progressive movement is primarily white, and we need to be more inclusive to those who agree with most of what we believe in, but whose life experiences are extremely different. I am personally proud of how I reach out to those who disagree with me (specifically, Trump supporters), but now realize that I should also be reaching out to those who do agree with me and should be on my side, but with whom I have an enormous cultural divide.
The progressive media also needs to be more inclusive with people of color. Marcus expressed disappointment with how, for example, The Young Turks (TYT) does not have more prominent correspondents of color. He laments how he and other people of color are not invited onto these shows. He therefore chooses to go on to mainstream media such as Joy Ann Reid on MSNBC. Although he acknowledges that sometimes his segments don’t make it to air (post live), He has never felt censored or inappropriately edited.
Regarding the 2016 presidential campaign, Marcus believes that Bernie’s lack of black outreach was a significant contributor to his losing the campaign. Before speaking with him, I thought that the DNC is corruption was the primary factor, but Marcus disputes that. However, he complements Bernie’s current black outreach which is apparently (hopefully!) in preparation for the 2020 presidential election.
Finally, Marcus told the story of how he lost a cousin to police gun violence in 2013. We discuss the difficult issue of victim blaming, which is part of institutionalized racism that has been part of our country since the beginning. Not only racism, it is a tactic used against all disadvantaged groups, such as criticizing the poor for taking advantage of safety net programs.
Marcus is the most progressive candidate running against seven other Democrats in a district rated as “Democrat +12.” This means that whoever gets through the primary is likely to win in November. The primary election will be held on August 7.
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