Sunday, August 30, 2020

Remembering Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick was such an elegant man with great integrity and tremendous talent. He inspired an entire generation to stand up and be king. Honor him by emulating him – show kindness and love to others. Share your talents in ways that impact. Always strive to be a light in the darkness.

– The Russo Brothers, film directors
via Twitter
August 29, 2020

It's been quite some time since the death of someone from the entertainment world has impacted me as much as that of actor Chadwick Boseman, who died Friday at the age of 43.

Since 2016, Boseman had been living with colon cancer, something about which he never spoke publicly. Like many people, I heard about his passing late Friday night on social media. I was both shocked and saddened.

Above: The tweet announcing the death of Chadwick Boseman. It is now the most liked tweet of all time. Twitter confirmed the accolade on its own verified account Saturday, stating: “Most liked Tweet ever. A tribute fit for a King. #WakandaForever.”

Boseman is greatly respected within the Black community for his cinematic portrayal of revered Black figures Jackie Robinson (in 2013's 42), James Brown (2014's Get on Up), and Thurgood Marshall (2017's Marshall).

Worldwide, Chadwick Boseman is celebrated for his inspirational performance as the titular character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Black Panther (2018), which broke both box office records and cultural barriers.

As King T’Challa / Black Panther, Boseman also appeared in Marvel's Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: End Game (2019).

Last year Boseman starred in 21 Bridges, an action/thriller. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which is currently in post-production, will be his final film role. It's based on the acclaimed play of the same name by August Wilson.

Following is a video montage by Variety celebrating the life and legacy of Chadwick Boseman. (NOTE: Sources conflict on whether Boseman was born in 1976 or 1977; the most reliable and relevant sources agree on 1976.)

It was reported last year that Boseman had signed on to a film project in which he would play Yasuke, the Japanese name of a samurai of African origin who fought under Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga during the 1580s. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “the period action drama is based on the historical tale of the only known African to reach the samurai ranking in feudal Japan.” Sadly, Boseman died before filming of Yasuke commenced.

His role as Yasuke would have continued his commitment to portraying historical Black figures of strength and dignity. That commitment is now Boseman's legacy, about which Leslie McLemore writes:

Chadwick was genuine. He was at peace. Like, he knew who he was.

Like, he knew he was here to serve a purpose.

He took on these roles for us because he knew the stories needed to be told. He knew the stories of Black icons, both real and fictional, needed to be told. Because they were all superheroes. Black superheroes who were flawed. Black superheroes who were heroic. Black superheroes who needed their story told.

And Chadwick gave it to us.

This unselfish, genuine Black soul gave us all he had. He gave us his Black soul so these Black souls he either birthed or resurrected could continue to live, and fall, and prosper through the art of cinema.

. . . Black Panther meant everything to us. It meant everything to me. I’ve always love being Black. I'm always proud to be Black. And I didn't think I could love being Black more, or proud to be Black more. But he made me love being Black a little bit more. He made me proud to be Black just a little bit more. When he put on that Black Panther suit, it lovingly made me proud to be Black just a little bit more.

Tamoria Jones similarly writes:

Chad played roles that embodied the true essence of who we are as Black people. He didn’t take the traditional slave roles, or roles where we overcame being black, or the gangster role, or the crackhead role.

Chad embodied the true essence of who we are as Black people. We are lawyers breaking barriers (Marshall). We are talented athletes (42 and The Express). We’re singers and songwriters (Get on Up). Last but certainly not least, we are Super Heroes (Black Panther).

This is the true essence and a mere glimpse of who we are as Black people. To lose a person, a legend, an icon, who embodied these roles to showcase for the world to see, hits home for all of us.

Taken from us so young, but your memories will more than certainly live on. May God take your pain away, and you rest heavenly in peace!

I found myself drawn to Chadwick Boseman and his performances for a number of reasons. One was the gravitas that imbued so much of what he said and did.

In watching and listening to him perform, I was often reminded of Jane Fonda's description of Vanessa Redgrave, whose voice, said Fonda, always “seems to come from some deep place that knows all suffering and all secrets” and who always seems to be “in another reality, working off some secret, magnetic, inner rhythm.”

Of course, in retropect, one can't help but wonder to what extent Boseman's awareness of and private struggle with a terminal illness contributed to his cultivation of – and living from – this “deep place that knows all suffering and all secrets.” We're all capable of creating such places within ourselves, a creation often set in motion by the ways we chose to respond to adversity, tragedy, and loss. Our grounding in and living from such a place can't help but kindle a “secret, magnetic, inner rhythm.” Such a rhythm was brought to life within Boseman, one which both inspired and shone through his performances.

The cultivation and embodiment of such a deep inner rhythm of awareness and empathy is, of course, a choice; the choice to cultivate and embody soul.

Chadwick was (and will forever remain) a beautiful soul.

I also found Chadwick, physically, to be an incredibly beautiful man . . . and a stylish dresser to boot. This can be readily seen in each and every photo of him!

At right, for instance, Chad is pictured with his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, at the 2019 premiere of 21 Bridges.

Following are a few more pics of the stylishly-dressed Chadwick Boseman.

As a gay man, I not only appreciated Chadwick Boseman's looks and sense of style, but also the queer sensibility with which he imbued the character and story of T'challa / Black Panther.

The film Black Panther is, of course, based on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's revolutionary comic book character of the same name. And as I've noted previously at The Wild Reed, Black Panther, as both a comic book and a film, has a definite queer appeal.

What do I mean by this? . . . Well, I've come to understand that to be “queer” is to attempt to expand or go beyond (in thought, word or deed) the parameters of gender, race, heterosexuality, patriarchy, and other socially-constructed (or manipulated) concepts. Laurence Coleman, in discussing vocalist Dusty Springfield as a queer icon, says that embracing this understanding of queer “denotes a spectrum not only of identity and practice but also inquiry.” Accordingly, to be queer is to be a questioner and subverter of what Michael Warner has called “regimes of the normal,” and not just in matters to do with sexuality and sexual expression, but also in matters of gender, class, and race.

For many people, a definite appeal of Black Panther is that it boldly questions and subverts in entertaining ways, “regimes of the normal” as they relate to gender and race. (It almost did the same with sexuality, as Linda Lang documents here.)

I celebrate the subversion and transformation of any status quo that is oppressive and limiting, and without doubt Black Panther does this. Accordingly, I think it's fair to say that it is queer in the broadest and deepest sense of the word.

Black Panther is also queer in the more focused sense of sexuality. Though not as obvious or resolute as its focus on race and gender, a queer take on sexuality is nonetheless observable, simply and beautifully, in the film's celebration of the impressive physiques of the main Wakandan characters (both male and female); in Black Panther's body-hugging outfit (one that emphasizes the male body's “tools of attraction”); in the sensuous, cat-like way T'challa / Black Panther moves; and in the young King of Wakanda's journey and travails in becoming a hero.

This last observation is important as for many people who do not identify exclusively as heterosexual, the trials of comic book superheroes are often perceived to reflect their own struggle to be who they really are in a world that fears and misunderstands them.

“When I was a teenager,” one gay man told Gerard Jones, author of the book Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book, “superheroes were obviously about being queer. Clark Kent shedding that hideous [business] suit and shooting into the sky in his tights? What else [could it be about]?”

I think a very similar thing can be said for T'challa, not only in his donning of his tight-fitting Black Panther suit, but in his efforts to move Wakanda out of the shadows so as to openly reveal and share the country's immense riches and unique gifts with the wider world, a move that is both liberating and risky, much like coming out as queer.

I conclude this tribute with images of Boseman in some of his most memorable movie roles and with three short videos, the first being Boseman's February 12, 2018 appearance on Good Morning America, and the second his March 4, 2018 appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. In both interviews, Boseman talks about the significance of Black Panther. The third video is Nicki Swift's look at Boseman's inspiring final social media posts.

Above: Boseman as Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film 42. Boseman died on the observance of Jackie Robinson Day, seven years after his portrayal of Robinson in 42. (NOTE: Jackie Robinson Day is April 15, but was observed this year on August 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Above and below: Boseman as James Brown in the 2014 film Get on Up.

Above: In the 2016 film Gods of Eygpt, Boseman played Thoth. In responding to the backlash to the whitewashing in the film, Boseman said, “I'm thankful that it [happened], because actually, I agree with it. That's why I wanted to do it, so you would see someone of African descent playing Thoth, the father of mathematics and astronomy, and the god of wisdom.”

Above: Boseman as Thurgood Marshall in the 2017 film Marshall.

Above, right and below: Boseman in what will be remembered and celebrated as his most well-known and influential role, that of King T’Challa of Wakanda, aka Black Panther. Boseman brought this comic book character to vivid and believable life in four of Marvel Studio's popular superhero films: Captain America: Civil War (2016), Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: End Game (2019).

Above: Boseman in the 2019 film 21 Bridges.

Above: Boseman in the 2020 film Da 5 Bloods. Director Spike Lee, in choosing Boseman for the divine-like character of “Stormin” Norman, said, “This character is heroic; he's a superhero. Who do we cast? We cast Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and we cast T'Challa.”


Artwork: Adéyínká Adébáyọ̀

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything You gave me.”

– Chadwick Boseman

NEXT: Honoring An Icon

Related Off-site Links:
Black Panther Star Chadwick Boseman Dies of Cancer at 43 – Ryan Pearson (Associated Press, August 28, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman’s Final Tweet Is Twitter’s Most-Liked Post of All Time – Jordan Moreau (Variety, August 29, 2020).
Ryan Coogler Pens Powerful Tribute To Chadwick Boseman: “Chad Is An Ancestor Now”Shadow and Act (August 30, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman Didn't Just Play Icons. He Was One – Jake Coyle (Associated Press, August 29, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman's Career Highlights and Personal AchievementsABC News (August 29, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman's Most Beloved Moments Off-screen, From His Howard University Speech to “Black Jeopardy!” – Rasha Ali (USA Today, August 29, 2020).
How Chadwick Boseman Embodies Black Male Dignity – Reggie Ugwu (The New York Times, January 2, 2019).
A Look Back at Chadwick Boseman’s 2018 Sunday Sitdown Interview With Willie GeistSunday TODAY (August 30, 2020).
Black Panther Proves Black Movies Matter – John Paul King (Washington Blade, February 23, 2018).
Danai Gurira: Chadwick Boseman Was Exactly Like Black Panther – Christian Spencer (The Grio, August 30, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman in His Own Words – James Doubek (NPR News, August 30, 2020).
5 Things Chadwick Boseman's Silent Battle With Colon Cancer Reminds Us of Invisible Illnesses – Jessica Schmidt (Odyssy, August 30, 2020).

UPDATES: Remembering Chadwick Boseman: Ibram X. Kendi on the Legacy of the Black Panther Star, Cancer, and Anti-RacismDemocracy Now! (August 31, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman Was Ready For History Every Time – Evan Narcisse (GQ, September 1, 2020).
What Chadwick Boseman Taught Us About Black History – Taryn Finley (The Huffington Post, September 1, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman Helped Create This Iconic Black Panther Line – Jenna Amatulli (The Huffington Post, September 1, 2020).
How Chadwick Boseman’s Humility Made Him a Star – Matthew Jacobs (The Huffington Post, September 2, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman Turned Down Branding Opportunities That Would Taint Black Panther for Children – Kevin Childs (, September 2, 2020).
In Mock Funerals and “42” Jerseys, Kids Mourn Black Panther – Leanne Italie (Associated Press News, September 2, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman's Inner Circle on His Secret Cancer Battle: “He Was a Very Private Person” – Kirsten Chuba (Hollywood Reporter, September 2, 2020).
How Chadwick Boseman Helped Create the “Wakanda Forever” Salute – Bill Bradley (The Huffington Post, September 2, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman Was “In Hard-core Pain” While Filming Last Movie, Camps Say – Terry Shropshire (Rolling Out, September 3, 2020).
Finding Our Spiritual Vibranium: A Tribute to Chadwick Boseman – Adam R. Taylor (Sojourners, September 3, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman: The Lasting Impact of a Life Well-Lived – Tiffany Johnson (Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, September 3, 2020).
Yes, Grieving Over a Celebrity’s Death Is 100% Valid – Sam Ledesma (Freedie MNL, September 3, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman Honored as Hometown Hero in Native South Carolina – Jonathan Landrum Jr. (Associated Press News, September 3, 2020).
Deanna Brown Thomas, Daughter of James Brown, Delivers Powerful Tribute to Honor Life of Chadwick Boseman – Madeleine Hackett (WYFF News 4, September 3, 2020).
He Makes You Think He’s Lost When He’s Won: On Chadwick Boseman – Soma Ghosh (The Quietus, September 4, 2020).
Family to Hold Private Service in Anderson, South Carolina to Celebrate Chadwick Boseman's Life – Joe Ripley (WYFF News 4, September 5, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman’s Funeral Service to Be Held in Hometown of Anderson, SCKIRO 7 News (September 6, 2020).
Marvel Fans Petitioning For Shuri to Take the Mantle in Black Panther 2 – David James (We Got This Covered, September 4, 2020).
Marvel Reportedly Wants to Pay Tribute to Chadwick Boseman in Captain Marvel 2 – Alex Crisp (We Got This Covered, September 6, 2020).
Disney and Marvel Studios Have Reportedly Decided on How to Proceed With Black Panther 2 – Scott Campbell (We Got This Covered, September 6, 2020).
Farewell to the King: Michael B Jordan and Black Panther Co-stars Join Chadwick Boseman’s Wife and Family at Malibu Memorial for Brave Actor – Patrick Knox (The U.S. Sun, September 7, 2020).
What Chadwick Boseman’s Death Means in a Year Marked by Grief – Joshua Barajas (PBS Newshour, September 9, 2020).
Evidence Mounts That Shuri Will Be the MCU’s New Black Panther – Scott Campbell (We Got This Covered, September 11, 2020).
Remembering the Joy, Strength and Inspiration of Chadwick Boseman – Moira Macdonald (Seattle Times, September 13, 2020).
This Is Who Fans Want to Replace Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther – Chris Smith (BGR, September 13, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman Laid to Rest in South Carolina – Matt Joseph (We Got This Covered, September 14, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman’s Brother Reveals a Heartbreaking Look Into His Final DaysExtra (October 5, 2020).
Chadwick Boseman Remembered – Ruth E. Carter (The Guardian, December 12, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Important Cultural Moment That Is Black Panther
Celebrating Black Panther – Then and Now
“Avengers Assemble!”
Jason Johnson on Stan Lee's Revolutionary Legacy
Another First for Black Panther
“Something Special,” Indeed!
Queer Black Panther

Friday, August 28, 2020

Something to Think About . . .


Related Off-site Links:
The Psychology of Rioting: The Language of the Unheard – Joe Pierre (Psychology Today, May 30, 2020).
Media Response to Looting and Riots Veils Racial Injustice – Britni de la Cretaz (Refinery29, May 28, 2020).
“Looting”: The Revolt of the Oppressed – Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar (Hyperallergic, June 5, 2020).
The Looting ContinuesThe Uptake (August 281, 2020).
“Structural Looting” of Black Communities Driving Protesters to Baltimore Streets – Sarah Lazare (Common Dreams, April 28, 2015).
In Defense of Looting – Vicky Osterweil (The New Inquiry, August 21, 2014).

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Quote of the Day

Kenosha is the perfect example of what we've been trying to say. A Black man who was clearly not a threat is shot in the back in front of his children. A white teenager carrying a rifle openly and freely, kills two people and is literally able to walk right past the police and, initially, is not even detained, much less shot and killed.

This is systemic racism.

This is police brutality against Black and brown skinned people.

This is white privilege at work.

The sooner some of you all start to see the truth and do your part, the sooner we will begin to move toward healing.

– Cathy Heying
via Facebook
August 27, 2020

Related Off-site Links:
Jacob Blake’s Father Says Son’s Paralyzed From Waist Down After Police Shooting in Kenosha – Clare Proctor (Chicago Sun Times, August 25, 2020).
Two Shot Dead in Kenosha as Armed Militias Confront Black Lives Matter Protests over Police Shooting of Jacob BlakeDemocracy Now! (August 26, 2020).
“On a Hunting Spree”: Wisconsin Rep. David Bowen Says Cops Turned Blind Eye to White Militias in KenoshaDemocracy Now! (August 27, 2020).
Kyle Rittenhouse, the Kenosha Shooting Suspect, Was in the Front Row of a Trump Rally in January – Ellie Hall, Amber Jamieson, Tasneem Nashrulla, and Kadia Goba (Buzz Feed, August 27, 2020).
Ex-Classmates: Alleged Kenosha Killer Loved Cops, Guns, Trump, “Triggering Libs” – Jake Thomas (The Intellectualist, August 27, 2020).
Trevor Noah Asks Why Police Shot Jacob Blake But Not Kyle Rittenhouse -- Christi Carras (Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2020).
Jacob Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse and Kenosha’s Vivid Example of American Racism – Rex Huppke (Chicago Tribune, August 27, 2020).
A Tale of Two Teens: When White Killers Are Treated Better Than Black Victims – Hana Kiros (The Progressive, August 27, 2020).
Media and Law Enforcement Response to White Vigilante Shooter Proves There Are Two Americas – Zack Linly (The Root, August 27, 2020).
Fox News Host Tucker Carlson Suggests Teen Charged With Killing Kenosha Protesters Had to “Maintain Order When No One Else Would” – Tim Elfrink (, August 27, 2020).
Kenosha Police Chief Blames Murdered Protesters for Their Own Deaths – Chris Walker (TruthOut, August 27, 2020).
“Wild and Timely” Report Details Infiltration of Far-Right Militias and White Supremacist Groups in US Police Departments – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, August 27, 2020).
Law and Order? VP Mike Pence Ignores Police Violence and Stokes Division on Third Night of RNCDemocracy Now! (August 27, 2020).

UPDATES: The FBI Warned for Years That Police Are Cozy With the Far Right. Is No One Listening? – Mike German (The Guardian, August 28, 2020).
What’s the Difference Between Kyle Rittenhouse and the Police? – Peter Sterne (Jacobin, August 30, 2020).
“We're Not Going to Stop”: Jacob Blake Family Lead Kenosha March as Trump Plans Visit – Adam Mahoney (The Guardian, August 30, 2020).
Democratic Representative Karen Bass Warns Trump’s Kenosha Visit Is Meant to “Agitate” And “Make Things Worse” – Ja’han Jones (The Huffington Post, August 30, 2020).
White Supremacist in the White House: Ibram X. Kendi on Trump’s Calls for “Law & Order” in KenoshaDemocracy Now! (August 31, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
In Uptown and Beyond, Murals Honor George Floyd and Call for an End to Systemic Racism
“I Can't Breathe”: The Murder of George Floyd
He Called Mama. He Has Called Up Great Power
Something to Think About – May 28, 2020
Honoring George Floyd
“New and Very Dangerous”: The Extreme Right-Wing Infiltration of the George Floyd Protests
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 2, 2020
Trevor Noah on the “Dominoes of Racial Injustice”
Emma Jordan-Simpson: “There Will Be No Peace Without Justice”
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2020
Helpful Rebuttals for Racist Talking Points
Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore
“Say Her Name” Solidarity Action
“We Are All One” – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation
Nancy A. Heitzeg: Quote of the Day – March 31, 2016
“This Doesn't Happen to White People”
Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color
Something to Think About – March 25, 2016
God's Good Gift
Photo of the Day, 5/3/2015: “Black Is Sacred”
“And Still We Rise!” – Mayday 2015 (Part I)
“And Still We Rise!” – Mayday 2015 (Part II)

Photo of the Day

See also the previous posts:
Photo of the Day – August 23, 2020
O Breath of Summer
In Summer Light
Summer Blooms
In Susu's Garden
Out and About – Summer 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

“The Republican Party Has Now Made It Official: They Are a Cult”

I didn't watch the Republican convention . . . but I did see bits of it on the news.

The main thing that struck me was that the Republican party has now made it official: they are a cult. They have decided not to have a platform at all. There will be no stated principles, no proposed policies, no agreed upon values. Their only guiding light for their party will be the whims of their master.

Even those few Republicans some may have considered reasonable, like Tim Scott and Nikki Haley, got down on their knees before Trumpism. Not because they are true believers, but because they themselves want to run for president someday and they have made the calculation that in order to make this a reality, they must kiss Trump's ass in the present.

The rest of what was presented was a parallel universe of lies, fearmongering, nepostism, and hate.

What kind of people buy this crap?

– Crystal
A Cult
August 25, 2020

Related Off-site Links and Updates:
The RNC is American Authoritarianism, Unmasked – Umair Haque (Eudaimonia and Co, August 25, 2020).
Republicans Pushed at Least 30 Misleading Claims During Day One of RNC, Says Report – Tom Sykes (The Daily Beast, August 25, 2020).
Final Night of the Republican Convention: Trump Accepts His Party’s Nomination in a Speech Filled With Familiar (August 28, 2020).
The Trumps are Gaslighting a Collapsing America – Umair Haque (Eudaimonia and Co, August 26, 2020).
Historian Rick Perlstein on the RNC and Trump’s Dangerous Propaganda Driving People to ViolenceDemocracy Now! (August 28, 2020).
Trump Has a Long Way to Go to Convince Americans He’s the Right Candidate to End Racial Unrest – Ben Mathis-Lilley (Slate, August 28, 2020).
Team Trump Whines About “Cancel Culture” — But They're the Ones Who Want to Crush Free Speech – Amanda Marcotte (Salon, August 28, 2020).
Law and Order? VP Mike Pence Ignores Police Violence and Stokes Division on Third Night of RNCDemocracy Now! (August 27, 2020).
How The Electorate Has Changed Since 2016 – Domenico Montanaro (NPR News, August 25, 2020).
Who Are President Trump’s Supporters?NPR News (August 25, 2020).
Biden vs Trump: Who Is Leading the 2020 U.S. Election Polls?Financial Times (regularly updated).

UPDATES: Trump’s Republican National Convention Was a Spectacle Fit for a Would-Be King – Masha Gessen (The New Yorker, August 28, 2020).
Two Weeks of Conventions, Dozens of Speeches, So Many Videos. What Just Happened? – Jim Newell (Slate, August 29, 2020).
“RNC Blues”: Trump’s in a Slump While Biden’s Favorability Continues to Rise – Mackenzie Zlatos (Front Page Live, August 31, 2020).
If Trump Tries to Hijack the Election, We Must Be Ready to Resist – Marjorie Cohn (TruthOut, August 31, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
The “Freefall” Continues
Fascism Is Upon Us
Trump's Playbook
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
On International Human Rights Day, Saying “No” to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
Global Condemnation for Trump's Latest Ignorant and Racist Comments
Quotes of Note Regarding the Impeachment of President Trump
Quotes of Note Regarding the Senate’s Impeachment Trial of President Trump
Progressive Perspectives on Corruption in U.S. Politics
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2020
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 2, 2020
Jennifer Rubin: Quote of the Day – October 17, 2018
Michael Sean Winters: “The Entire Republican Establishment Has Caved to Trumpism”

Image 1: Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images.
Image 2: Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Donald Trump speaking at the 2020 RNC. (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Monday, August 24, 2020

Eight Leading Progressive Voices on Why They’re Voting for Biden

. . . and the work that will be necessary
if he is elected president

In his recent In These Times piece, Max B. Sawicky provides a timely reminder that the actions of the Trump administration and its Republican enablers that are undermining the democratic and humanitarian ideals of the United States have their roots in the neoliberal ideology of past Democratic administrations. Sawicky's article focuses on the current attacks on the U.S. Postal Service, but we can see the same historical pattern at play with regards other issues as well, such as immigration.

Make no mistake, Donald Trump must be defeated in November as he has, without doubt, taken the U.S. to the brink of neo-fascism, with democracy under threat in a way it has never been before. But let's not delude ourselves: the neoliberalism of the Democratic establishment (of which both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are enmeshed) feeds the momentum towards this brink. The austerity measures and push for privatization inherent to neoliberalism, give people legitimate cause to be angry and to despair. Such measures have broadened the wealth inequality gap and have made the authoritarian populism of someone like Trump very appealing to many Americans.

Writing in Jacobin, David Sirota puts it this way:

We’ve seen this parable over and over again – elite-run, neoliberal governments are democratically elected and then do not economically deliver for the vast majority of the population, creating popular frustration and the political space for a right-wing strongman to seize power.

This is the taboo tale tying together the Obama and Trump eras. Though oversimplified, the broad strokes are clear: a populist campaign won the election, before an elite-run administration capitulated to corporate power, sowing frustration and disillusionment, which helped a demagogue peddling racism and sexism to successfully vault himself into the presidency.

Given not only the current state of affairs under Trump but also how as a society we're constantly lulled into amnesia by both corporate-run media and government about the historical trajectory of authoritarianism, we definitely have our work cut out for us. We have to resoundingly defeat Trump, but we also have to bring about a fundamental course correction of the political and economic system of the United States so that in four or eight years time we're not contending with the rise of another authoritarian populist (perhaps even Donald Trump Jr.). This means challenging and transforming the centrist, neoliberal agenda of the Democratic party. We have to rebuild our political system so that it is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. In recent decades it has sadly de-volved into one that is much more of, by, and for the short-term profits of corporations, with little or no regard to the well-being of individuals, communities or the environment. Both parties have embraced this system to varying degrees and both benefit from it in terms of unlimited corporate funding (made possible by the anti-democratic Citizens United ruling of the Supreme Court in 2010).

As I've said previously (see here and here), Trump is not the problem. He is the most obvious and destructive symptom of the problem, which can be defined as a plutocratic system of unfettered capitalism which since the 1970s has come to dominate American life to the detriment of all but a very wealthy few. It's also important to remember that this system is a spectrum. The Republicans may be at the extreme end of it, bringing us all to the brink of neo-fascism, but the Democratic establishment (with its neoliberal economic doctrine) also situates itself on this spectrum, one that naturally and inexorably flows towards that same brink. Lifting both our government and economy off of this destructive spectrum is the work that is going to be neccesary, starting the day Biden and Harris are declared president-elect and vice president-elect respectively.

In recent days, a number of leading progressive voices have spoken out on the need to both defeat Trump and transform the system that, in so many ways, led to his rise and to the existential threats we are now facing. Following are eight of these voices: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Noam Chomsky, Robert Reich, Cornel West, Ben Jealous, and Marianne Williamson.


I just spoke at the Democratic National Convention, and my 60-second message at the DNC was simple: the movement for guaranteed healthcare, racial justice, labor rights, and a just economy is here, it is growing, and is committed to winning in November.

We are, and must be, laser-focused on organizing the mass-mobilization necessary to defeat Donald Trump. A key part of that task is winning over crucial margins of swing-voters towards Vice President Biden in precincts across the country. But that task alone will not win us this election – we must also add those margins to an unprecedented, mass turnout event of young people, people of color, and working-class people of all identities in order to be successful. And one of the best ways to do that is to allow the movement for 21st-century social, economic, and human rights to flourish.

While Senator Sanders didn’t win the nomination, the mass movement of everyday people demanding systemic solutions to social, racial, and economic injustice is not going away anytime soon. It is a defining generational cause, one that has been slowly building for decades, and is only getting stronger with recent, shocking victories like Jamaal Bowman’s, Cori Bush’s, Mondaire Jones’, and Marie Newman’s. For generations, the progressive movement has been working and organizing to win the fight for civil, economic, and social liberties. Today, it is stronger than ever. The future of the Democratic Party, and the future of this country, are everyday people like you.

We must defeat Donald Trump. Doing so will require progressive, mass-movement politics that dramatically expands the electorate in November and unapologetically fights for working-class and marginalized people. And a major element of that task is sincerely and honestly addressing the slow-growing yet massive injustices that contributed to the apathy and anger that helped bring the chaos of Trump’s presidency in the first place.

As progressives, we are here to fight for guaranteed healthcare, higher education, living wages, and labor rights for all people in the United States. We are here to recognize and repair the wounds of racial injustice, colonization, misogyny, and homophobia, and replace the structures perpetuating them with more just ones.

We are here to reimagine our systems of immigration and foreign policy in a manner that turns away from the violence and xenophobia of the past, so we can lead a sustainable future that we are proud to leave to future generations.

That’s the future of our movement. That’s the future of the Democratic Party. That’s the future of the country that we are committed to building together.

– Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D. NY-14)
August 18, 2020

Our great nation is now living in an unprecedented moment. Facing the worst public health crisis in 100 years and worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. We are confronting systemic racism and the enormous threat to the planet of climate change. And in the middle of all of this, we have a president who is not only incapable of addressing these crises, but leading us down the path of authoritarianism. This election is the most important in the modern history of the country. In response to the unprecedented crisis we face, we need an unprecedented response. A movement like never before of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency and against greed, oligarchy, and bigotry. And we need Joe Biden as our next president.

Let me take this opportunity to say a word to the millions of people who supported my campaign this year and in 2016. My friends, thank you for your trust, your support, and the love you showed Jane, me, and our family. Together we have moved this country in a bold new direction, showing that all of us, Black and white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, gay and straight, native-born and immigrant, yearn for a nation based on the principles of justice, love, and compassion. Our campaign ended several months ago. Our movement continues and is getting stronger every day. Many of the ideas we fought for a few years ago were considered radical are now mainstream. But let us be clear. If Donald Trump is reelected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy.

At its most basic, this election is about preserving our democracy. During this president’s term, the unthinkable has become normal. He has tried to prevent people from voting. Undermined the U.S. Postal Service. Deployed the military and federal agents against peaceful protesters. Threatened to delay the election. And suggested that he will not leave office if he loses. This is not normal. And we must never treat it like it is. Under this administration, authoritarianism has taken root in our country. I, and my family, and many of yours, know the insidious way authoritarianism destroys democracy, decency, and humanity. As long as I am here, I will work with progressives, with moderates and yes, with conservatives to preserve this nation from a threat that so many of our heroes fought and died to defeat.

This president is not just a threat to our democracy, but by rejecting science, he has put our lives and health in jeopardy. Trump has attacked doctors and scientists trying to protect us from the pandemic while refusing to take strong action to produce the masks, gowns, and gloves our healthcare workers desperately need. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Trump golfs. His actions fanned this pandemic, resulting in 170,000 deaths and a nation still unprepared to protect its people. Furthermore, Trump’s negligence has exacerbated the economic crisis we’re experiencing. Since this pandemic began, over 30 million people have lost their jobs, and many have lost health insurance. Millions of working families are wondering how they will feed their kids, and they’re worried they will be evicted from their homes.

And how has Trump responded? Instead of maintaining the $600-a-week unemployment supplement that workers were receiving, and the $1,200 emergency checks that many of you received, instead of helping small businesses, Trump concocted fraudulent executive orders that do virtually nothing to address the crisis while threatening the very future of Social Security and Medicare. But the truth is that even before Trump’s negligent response to the pandemic, too many hardworking families have been caught on an economic treadmill with no hope of ever going ahead.

Together we must build a nation that is more equitable and compassionate and more inclusive. I know that Joe Biden will begin that fight on day one. Let me offer you just a few examples of how Joe will move us forward. He supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Giving 40 million workers a pay raise and push the wage scale up for everyone else. Joe will make it easier for workers to join unions, create 12 weeks of paid family leave, fund universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, and make child care affordable for millions of families. Joe will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and fight the threat of climate change by transitioning us to 100 percent clean electricity over 15 years. These initiatives will create millions of good-paying jobs all across our country.

As you know, we are the only industrialized nation not to guarantee health care for all people. While Joe and I disagree on the best path to get universal coverage, he has a plan that will greatly expand health care and cut the cost of prescription drugs. Further, he will lower the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 to 60. To help reform our broken criminal justice system, Joe will end private prisons and the detention centers, cash bail, and the school-to-prison pipeline.

And to heal the soul of our nation, Joe Biden will end the hate and division Trump has created. He will stop the demonization of immigrants, coddling of white nationalists, racist dog whistling, religious bigotry, and the ugly attacks on women. My friends, I say to you, to everyone who supported other candidates in the primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake. We must come together to defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president. My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine.

– Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT)
August 18, 2020

love a good plan, and Joe Biden has some really good plans – plans to bring back union jobs in manufacturing and create new union jobs in clean energy. Plans to increase Social Security benefits, cancel billions in student loan debt, and make our bankruptcy laws work for families instead of the creditors who cheat them.

These plans reflect a central truth: our economic system has been rigged to give bailouts to billionaires and kick dirt in the face of everyone else. But we can build a thriving economy by investing in families and fixing what’s broken. Joe’s plan to “build back better” includes making the wealthy pay their fair share, holding corporations accountable, repairing racial inequities, and fighting corruption in Washington.

. . . Donald Trump’s ignorance and incompetence have always been a danger to our country. COVID-19 was Trump’s biggest test. He failed miserably. Today, America has the most COVID deaths in the world and an economic collapse – and both crises are falling hardest on Black and Brown families.
Millions out of work. Millions more trapped in cycles of poverty. Millions on the brink of losing their homes. Millions of restaurants and stores hanging by a thread.

This crisis is bad – and didn’t have to be this way. This crisis is on Donald Trump and the Republicans who enable him. On November 3, we hold them all accountable.

We all need to be in the fight to get Joe and Kamala elected. And after November, we all need to stay in the fight to get big things done.

We stay in this fight so that when our children and our grandchildren ask what we did during this dark chapter in our nation’s history, we will be able to look them squarely in the eye and say: we organized, we persisted, and we changed America.

There is a traditional left position, which has been pretty much forgotten, unfortunately, but it's the one I think we should adhere to. That's the position that real politics is constant activism. It's quite different from the establishment position, which says politics means focus, laser-like, on the quadrennial extravaganza [of presidential elections], then go home and let your superiors take over.

The left position has always been: You're working all the time, and every once in a while there’s an event called an election. This should take you away from real politics for 10 or 15 minutes. Then you go back to work.

At this moment, the difference between the candidates is a chasm. There has never been a greater difference. It should be obvious to anyone who's not living under a rock. So the traditional left position says, “Take the 15 minutes, push the lever, go back to work.”

Now, the activist left has not been making [that] choice. . . . It's been doing both.

Take Biden’s campaign positions. Farther to the left than any Democratic candidate in memory on things like climate. It’s far better than anything that preceded it. Not because Biden had a personal conversion or the DNC had some great insight, but because they’re being hammered on by activists coming out of the Sanders movement and others. The climate program, a $2 trillion commitment to dealing with the extreme threat of environmental catastrophe, was largely written by the Sunrise Movement and strongly endorsed by the leading activists on climate change, the ones who managed to get the Green New Deal on the legislative agenda. That’s real politics.

This is not support for Biden. It is support for the activists who have been at work constantly, creating the background within the party in which the shifts took place, and who have followed Sanders in actually entering the campaign and influencing it. Support for them. Support for real politics.

The left position is you rarely support anyone. You vote against the worst. You keep the pressure and activism going.

Noam Chomsky
Quoted in Anand Giridharadas's article,
Noam Chomsky Wants You to Vote for Joe Biden
and Then Haunt His Dreams

August 11, 2020

Given who Trump is and the direction we're headed, the Biden-Harris campaign needs to be America’s anti-fascist popular front. If your friends aren’t yet on board, help them understand the stakes. If Trump gets another term, we won’t have a democratic process. Please. Between now and Election Day, we must all work harder than ever before.

And after that, we will work even harder to enact a bold, progressive agenda.

Robert Reich
August 20, 2020

[We've] got to move on up from poverty. And in order to do it, you’ve got to talk about poverty. If you’re going to move on up from Wall Street greed and Wall Street crimes, you’ve got to talk about Wall Street greed and Wall Street crimes. If you’re going to move on up from the Pentagon militarism around the world, you’ve got to talk about it. Those are the taboo issues that we don’t get serious wrestling with. So when you really talk about the soul of America and the battle for the soul of America, much of that soul has been evacuated by the Pentagon greed and the Wall Street greed and the inability of the police and other institutions to treat Black people and Brown people, Indigenous people as human beings.

So . . . in terms of being part of an anti-fascist coalition, that I think we’re forced to vote for Biden. But we’re not going to lie about Biden, we’re not going to lie about Harris. We’re going to tell the truth about their captivity and their refusal to hit Pentagon money spending and militarism around the world, to hit Wall Street greed and to also speak substantively to issues of poverty.

You can’t have massive protests all around the country, the largest in the history of the country, you can’t have Brother Barber and Sister Theoharis out there talking about poverty, and then, when you get to the convention, you get this spectacle that has nothing to do with wrestling with poverty.

. . . We’ve got to vote for Biden, but never, ever lying about him, and not coming to terms with the fact that at this moment, with the decline and fall of the American Empire, it looks as if the system is unable to generate enough energy to seriously reform itself. It remains sanitized, superficial. We’re getting Lawrence Welk’s bubbles rather than Prince’s Revolution. I want to go to Prince’s Revolution concert. I want fundamental change.

. . . [T]he distinctive features of a decline of an empire, military overreach — 53 cents of every dollar is going to the military, 53 cents of every dollar in the city of Chicago goes to the police — militarism domestically, militarism abroad. But at the same time, you say to yourself, “Well, the people themselves are moving in a progressive direction . . . but there’s no translation.”

That’s why we didn’t hear enough serious progressive voices during the spectacle [of the convention], because you’ve got this big money still rendering captive so many of those in the Democratic Party, and they want to speak and give a lip service to justice, but there’s no real substance there in terms of sustaining an attack on poverty, sustaining an attack on the mass incarceration system and the new Jim Crow, sustaining a redistribution of wealth downward. You can’t talk about racism if you don’t talk about Black people having access to wealth. It could be reparations. It could be redistribution. We have to have access to wealth and income. And this is true for Black, for Brown. This is true for Indigenous peoples. This is true for Asians, across the board.

And so, what has happened is that we’re getting a sad spectacle that remains on the surface, and yet the massive suffering and misery that’s taking place is intensifying. And we’re getting the unraveling of public life with the post office and a whole host of other public institutions, education, and we’re getting the inability to envision a substantive alternative to the present, so we end up tied to this nightmarish reality.

So, yes, a vote for Biden as an anti-fascist vote, that’s different than in any way falling prey to illusions. We have to be able to keep our hopes while we kill the illusions. And if we can’t walk that tightrope, we’re not going to make it as a country.

I think that the theme of this convention was really one of unity. This was a time when we have to come together to defeat a president who is the most evil, the most corrupt that any of us have seen. And that says a lot.

It also was a time when we saw two nominees who we, as progressives, know we can work with. . . . These are people who, at their best, represent our best values. . . . So I’m very hopeful.

Joe Biden today needs Bernie, needs everyone who voted for Bernie, to become president. Joe Biden today has moved with the party to the left. And Joe Biden today gets, in his core, that we have to protect Medicare, that we have to protect Social Security. I won’t deny he’s a politician who has been at different places at different points. But I know where he is now. And I think we have to take a cue from Bernie and be very clear that everybody needs to vote against Trump and for Biden in this moment, so we have a president that we can move. There’s no moving Trump, but it is definitely possible to move Joe. And every organizer ultimately needs a president that they can move.

It’s taken me some time to get to where I am tonight, having experienced firsthand what a presidential campaign season is really all about. But by the end of the convention tonight I was fully there – all in for Joe and Kamala – emotionally as well as intellectually.

Do I have some critiques of the system? You bet I do. Do I have some deep issues with certain elements in the Democratic Party? Indeed I do. And I’m not quiet about that. But this is not the appropriate moment for any of it. This is the moment to elect Joe Biden.

I met Joe several times on the campaign trail and he was always kind and respectful, as was Jill. I only met Kamala once and she was wonderful as well. Do I think that everything they’ll stand for in the White House will be something I agree with? Absolutely not. But do I believe their sincerity as people and their genuine desire to do well by the country? I absolutely do.

This is not the time to roll the dice with our democracy. Donald Trump represents nothing short of a menace to the world, and Joe Biden’s genuine decency is a homeopathic remedy to Trump’s brazen disrespect for everything this country stands for.

I will not always agree with Joe and Kamala, or the direction of certain elements within the Democratic Party. And you know me . . . I won’t be quiet about any of it. But we can never vote for a candidate thinking we’ll agree with everything he or she will do in office. For the next 73 or however many days are left before November 3, I’m all in for Biden/Harris. This won’t be an easy time for them and it won’t be an easy time for us.

This country is in a downward spiral and nothing is more important than that we lift it up. Electing Joe Biden is the beginning of the process, a pause in the action that will give us time for some repair, a chance to begin what is one of the most important transformations in America’s history and in ourselves.

God bless America. And God bless the world. Let’s make America loving again.

Marianne Williamson
August 20, 2020

Related Off-site Links:
Bernie Sanders Just Made the Progressive Case for Joe Biden – Cameron Peters (Vox, August 18, 2020).
“I Guess If You Hold a Gun to My Head.” Sanders Voters in NC Come to Terms With Biden – Matt Goad (The News and Observer, August 20, 2020).
In 60 Seconds, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Shows She's the Future of the Democratic Party – Aaron Ross Coleman (Vox, August 21, 2020).
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Chides NBC News Over Misleading Tweet About Convention Speech – Ted Johnson (Deadline, August 19, 2020).
Michael Moore: How Democrats Paved the Way to Trump – Jon Wiener (The Nation, September 21, 2018).
Cornel West: There is “a Neo-fascist in the White House”Al Jazeera (November 29, 2019).
Unlike Republicans, Democrats Can Govern. But Can They Fight? – Robert Reich (Newsweek, August 17, 2020).
Noam Chomsky: Trump Is Quite Capable of an “October Surprise” – C.J. Polychroniou (TruthOut, August 11, 2020).
US “Third Party”: How New Progressive Movement May Further Divide Dems and Challenge BidenSputnik (August 21, 2020).
Marianne Williamson Is Back – to Talk About Forming a Third Party in 2024 – Holly Otterbein (Politico, August 19, 2020).
Marianne Williamson Won the Democratic Primary – Tom Scocca (Slate, August 21, 2020).

UPDATES: First, Stanch the Trump Bleeding. Whatever Progressives Think of Biden, We Can't Sit Out 2020 – Todd Gitlin (USA Today, September 21, 2020).
Dump Trump, Then Battle Biden – Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Sonali Kolhatkar, and Juliet Schor (Common Dreams, September 23, 2020).
“Fascism at Our Door”: Asked to Condemn White Supremacist Groups, Trump Tells Them to “Stand By” Instead – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, September 29, 2020).
Why Biden Must Win: It Is Not About Democracy, It’s About Fascism – Richard Falk ( via Common Dreams, October 13, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Branko Marcetic on the DNC: “Progressive Symbolism and Empty Rhetoric in Place of Real Political Vision”
My Summer of Supporting Progressive Down-Ballot Candidates
Progressive Perspectives on the Biden-Harris Ticket
Ricardo Levins Morales on the “Deepest Political Fault Line” Separating Democrats Ilhan Omar and Antone Melton-Meaux
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
The “Freefall” Continues
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2020
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 2, 2020
Progressive Perspectives on Bernie Sanders' Suspension of His Presidential Campaign
Deep Gratitude
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Bid
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Quote of the Day – March 10, 2019
Ben Ehrenreich on the Global Uprisings Against Neoliberalism
The Neoliberal Economic Doctrine: A View from Australia
Making the Connections . . . Then and Now
Mick Schommer: Quote of the Day – June 8, 2017
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – November 9, 2016
Arundhati Roy: Quote of the Day – September 15, 2016
Progressives and Obama
In a Blow to Democracy, U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Corporate Personhood
A Lose/Lose Situation

Images: Photographers unknown.