Shaun King: What It Means To Only Have White Candidates At The Top

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Good Morning Everybody!

As you know, Senator Kamala Harris, who was the only Black woman running for the Democratic nomination for President, dropped out earlier this week. And I just want to have a moment of truth about her campaign. 

First off, I hate the idea that white billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, are just parachuting into the race after everybody else has been campaigning for a year, and basically buying their way onto the debate stage by flooding the Internet, radio, and television with ads. 

Michael Bloomberg has spent more on ads this past 2 weeks than Kamala Harris raised and spent over her entire campaign. Another white billionaire, Tom Steyer, is doing the same thing.

And so, as it stands right now, not one single candidate of color will be on the debate stage at the next debate. And that is disheartening because when this race began is the single most diverse pool of candidates for President ever assembled. 

But here is where I have to have that moment of truth. 

This morning I looked all over social media at people who were saying they wished Kamala Harris was still in the race, and here is what I saw, over and over again, from activists, organizers, and everyday people. They said some version of, “Kamala Harris is not my preferred candidate, but I hate to see her leave the race.” Or “I am supporting another candidate, but hate that no more Black women are in the race.”

But here’s the thing – the first part of that sentence is why the second part of that sentence exists. Kamala Harris dropped out because she just didn’t have the grassroots support to win. Not in Iowa, not in New Hampshire or South Carolina – where she hoped to do well, and she had even dropped down to 5th place in her home state of California – which I think had a whole lot to do with why she dropped out. 

The deadline to be on the ballot in California was next Tuesday, and I’ve been told that she did not want to suffer such a loss in her own state, and that advisors felt like it could doom her in a future run for reelection to her Senate seat if she had such a bad showing at home. 

And here’s the thing – unlike Cory Booker and Julian Castro, Kamala Harris had actually already qualified for the next debate, but her campaign was running out of cash, was letting go of staff across the country, and had several very public resignations. 

I’m no fool, I think racism and sexism are always present in politics. Period. And I am sure both impacted Kamala’s campaign in measurable ways. At the end of the day, though, she struggled to catch on with any one core base – as she was not the top choice of Black voters, young voters, or women voters – and she would’ve needed to crush it with one, if not all of those constituencies to lead in the polls. 

I’ve gotta run, and I am going to say so much more of this next week, but I want to take a moment out to think you Tom, Sybil, and to all of the crew, from the engineers, to the producers, to the staff, all the way to HR, and more for your support over these past 4 years. I always knew that no matter what was going on in the world, whether I was a top trending topic for something crazy, or winning an award for my work, whether I was loved or hated, I always knew that you all had my back. 

And it has made all of the difference. I always knew that no matter what else went down, that I had my TJMS family. Our listeners have supported me in a hundred different ways across the years, and I hate to imagine where I’d be without it. 

I love and appreciate you all so very much! Being on here for hundreds of Tuesday and Thursday mornings has never felt like work for me because I knew I was just on here with my friends. My undergraduate and graduate degrees are in history, I just wanna say that this show, and this space is historic, and has set the tone and groundwork for the entire industry, and has paved the way for the entire industry.

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