The Tone Policing of Progressives Has Got to Stop.

And the policing of leftist women of color in particular.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo via Rashida Tlaib on Instagram

After video footage showed congresswoman Rashida Tlaib leading a crowd in booing Hillary Clinton’s now widely publicized unflattering remarks concerning Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, it should come as no surprise that the more conservative wing of the democratic party rose to condemn her actions almost instantaneously.

Former congressional candidate Kathie Allen tweeted: “I consider this highly inappropriate and wonder about Rashida’s maturity level, if not her judgement. We need unity, not someone throwing boos at the woman who warned us that we would be exactly where we are today.” A woman named Karen agreed, and replied: “I’m appalled at the behavior of all women on that stage. I’m like to demand their Dem cards, politician cards & women cards. If they don’t understand the debt of gratitude they owe to Hillary & ones who went before them, they are unfit to represent anyone. Crass ain’t cute.” But perhaps the most infuriating response came from the Center For American Progress’ Neera Tanden, who tweeted: “What I love about incidents like this — the booing of Hillary at a Sanders rally — is example after example of white male rage and misogyny.”

Hillary Clinton has publicly smeared Bernie and his base on multiple occasions, literally saying “nobody likes him” as though she’s in a high school clique that Bernie could only dream of being a part of. But Rashida having a natural, human response to that negativity constantly being directed at a candidate who literally inspired the movement that helped get her elected to congress is the real problem?

I am so incredibly sick and tired of progressives being tone policed, and leftist women of color in particular. To tell Rashida to sit down, shut up, and be grateful for women like Hillary Clinton who came before them could not be more demeaning, and yet she’s the one they’ve called divisive. All of the backlash that’s been directed at her for this incredibly mild response reeks of attempts to silence a woman of color who they feel needs to be put back in her place, and frankly I have had enough of it. But of course Neera Tanden took it even further, literally erasing Rashida’s identity all together and claiming the boos were just another example of those angry, sexist Bernie bros. It’s also worth noting that every other person on the stage laughing as she led the boos was a woman of color as well. Evidently in Neera’s eyes, they’re free to be chastised and erased.

Unfortunately, neoliberals chastising leftists and leftist women of color in particular is certainly nothing new. Tone policing has always been a reactionary response to any leftist who they feel isn’t adequately falling in line, or behaving in what they view as a “civil”, appropriate manner. It’s a given that if leftists don’t turn the other cheek, we’re immediately labeled as aggressive. If we don’t stay silent, we’re immediately smeared as hostile. Yet they wonder why we’re so angry and defensive.

Whether it’s the civil rights movement or today, Martin Luther King’s warnings about the white moderate still reigns true, and I don’t know who could possibly embody the white moderate more than Hillary Clinton. Rashida ran for congress in an effort to help create the changes that for far too long Clinton and her friends have told us are unpractical and unrealistic. For simply booing the divisive, obnoxious remarks from a woman who is the embodiment of what she is trying to change, Rashida gets told to sit down and be more civil. As infuriating as all of this is, Bernie’s press secretary Briahna Joy Gray still found a silver lining. Like she said:

“The establishment has never hesitated to tell women, POCs &/or working class people to sit down & shut up. But they messed up.

There are too many of us to silence now.

Written by

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store