Faculty in the News In the News

July 22, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Houston Quoted on Bernie Sanders, Civil Rights Activism

Dr. Akil Houston, Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Ohio University, was quoted in an International Business Times article on “Bernie Sanders And Black Lives Matter: 2016 Presidential Candidate Struggles With Topic Of Race Despite History Of Civil Rights Activism.”

Dr. Akil Houston

Dr. Akil Houston

For perhaps the first time since becoming the wildly popular liberal alternative to Democratic presidential nomination front-runner Hillary Clinton, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont finds his progressive credentials have only a limited effect on today’s civil rights activists. Critics say Sanders talks mostly about socioeconomic issues and won’t directly address race in a way that resonates with black and Latino activists.

For evidence, these activists point to Sanders’ brief shouting match with “Black Lives Matter” protesters at a progressive politics event over the weekend….

“Nowadays, everybody seems to have ‘marched with Dr. King’,” said Akil Houston, associate professor of African-American studies at Ohio University. “It doesn’t really matter to me who you marched with. What you are trying to do in the day-to-day?”

Houston said Sanders would do well to relate his message of socioeconomic inequality to structural racism — a system of inequalities based on race as well as socioeconomic class. Sanders has taken that message to the conventions of the Rev. Al Sharpton-led National Action Network and the Latino group, National Council of La Raza.

But using economics as a placeholder for race isn’t going to work in today’s political and social climate, Houston added. “You can pay me now or pay me later,” he said of how Obama has continually had to address racial inequalities as commander in chief. “But you will deal with the blowback from not dealing with it.”

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