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Why America’s Next President Must Speak About Systemic Racism

Black Lives Matter has brought inequality to the forefront of the election season’s debates

Black Lives Matters protesters interrupt a Bernie Sanders event in Seattle. Image by Tiffany Von Arnim via Wikimedia Commons

In the aftermath of the protests, riots and violence that erupted a year ago in Ferguson, Missouri, there was a huge appeal by pundits, pastors and politicos to engage in healing. The nation needed to heal, the people needed to heal, and, of course, Ferguson itself needed to heal. The catch, of course, is that we can’t begin to engage in a true “healing process” if we can’t even agree on what made us sick to begin with. Which explains why so many presidential candidates in the 2016 race, representing both the Republican and Democratic parties, are struggling to address institutional racism, discrimination, and how these issues should be tackled. Whether it's in reference to police brutality, mass incarceration, economic justice or just plain old bigotry, this is the first election in almost 50 years in which candidates are being directly asked by African American voters to tackle institutional racism. The candidate who figures out how to effectively deal with these issues will probably be measuring the curtains at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next November.

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