Ever since Marissa Janae Johnson and Mara Jacqueline Willaford commandeered the stage at a Seattle Bernie Sanders rally this past weekend, some pretty despicable attempts to smear their motives has dominated the discussion – mostly perpetuated by people who consider themselves to be “progressives” both in the blogosphere and in the comment sections.
Even we here at DeadState (we ultimately updated our story) were initially misled by some of the misinformation – some due to competing narratives by other activists on the ground in Seattle – that questioned the pair’s connection to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. But from the very beginning, we rejected the ridiculous conspiracy theories about Johnson and Willaford’s motives that were being hoisted by people on the left who couldn’t mentally process why a black civil rights group would target a Sanders event.
It’s hard to decide which conspiracy was the dumbest, but it was quite possibly the idea that Johnson and Willaford were paid operatives from Hillary Clinton, or the Koch Brothers, or George Soros, or the Tea Party, or any other corporative looming figure that people with room temperature IQs could dream up to avoid facing the uncomfortable truth. When you hear this kind of paranoid gullibility, it’s not hard to understand why the stupid myths of 9/11 trutherism, chemtrails, and anti-vaxxer pseudoscience has been allowed to fester in leftist circles for so long.
Next was the easily-debunked notion that Johnson was a “tea party supporter.” As I wrote in my original piece, all one had to do was READ (novel concept, I know) Johnson’s Facebook post where this idea originated. Clearly, she was talking about the ideology that she was raised in by her parents, which she abandoned in her college years. It was an incredibly honest and introspective discussion on a comment thread that so many chose to grotesquely take out of context; ‘Look…she said she supported the Tea Party – THAT’S WHY SHE TARGETED BERNIE!’
— Bella Mariposa (@WendyBird) August 8, 2015
Equally stupid was how so many used her openness about her Christianity as evidence that she’s a “right wing” or “conservative” Christian who targeted a progressive rally because, you know…RIGHT WING CHRISTIAN. This is probably the first time in history that white progressives were shocked that a black civil rights activist would self-identify as a Christian.
Johnson has spoken out widely since the incident, and in an interview on the TWIB podcast this Monday (see the YouTube link below), she directly addressed the sloppy speculation and slander that’s been thrown her way by “progressives” on social media and the blogosphere.
Most importantly, she explained why the BLM movement has targeted Bernie Sanders (all emphasis is mine):
Sanders is supposed to be as far left and as progressive as we can possibly get, right?… We have hordes and hordes of white liberals and white progressives [in Seattle] and yet we still have all the same racial problems. So for us, locally in our context, confronting Sanders was the equivalent of confronting the large, white, liberal Democrat, leftist contingent that we have here in Seattle who not only have not supported BLM in measurable ways, but is often very harmful and is also upholding the white supremacist society that we live in locally.
Next, she answered the question of why they haven’t targeted Hillary Clinton:
Hillary has better Secret Service than Obama… It’s about accessibility. We’re intentional about what we do… We have a political analysis about how Sanders is being used by the Democrats. That he’s essentially being used to go around and sweep up all of this momentum from grassroots movements including Black Lives Matter to only then later give it to Hillary when she wins the nomination. So it’s part of the understanding that we actually can still get at Hillary by going through Sanders.
Agree or not, there’s a method to what they do, and it’s working.
Here she addresses the conspiracy theories that say she’s been paid off by Hillary:
Then I need to get my check. That was my first response to that was “bitch better have my money.”
I can see people hearing that and saying, “See? She admitted to taking Hillary’s money!”
Finally, she talks about the “Sarah Palin supporter” accusations:
My parents are both Tea Partiers. I’m mixed. My mom’s white and my dad’s black. And they’re both big Tea Partiers and that’s how I was raised. Clearly I’m not — that’s not where I am because people leave high school and they go to college and they, like, become an adult and they change their mind… . But I do want to say I am a very devout Evangelical Christian… And people who know me locally and nationally in my organizing work know that that is why I do what I do. And so yes, I did run up there and confront Bernie Sanders because of my religious convictions, absolutely. Are they right-wing religious? No. But they’re religious in the fact that my religion says you lay down your life for other people and the most marginalized, and so that’s what I do.
You can hear the entire interview in the link below: