Great News: Bernie Hires Briahna Joy Gray

Gray 2020: A great choice.

Yesterday the Bernie 2020 campaign announced they hired ten women to fill leadership positions for the election. For a campaign criticized for being more of a “white man only” club, that was great and exciting news.

However, much of the media focus was around Bernie’s hiring of journalist David Sirota. Questions surfaced about whether he was a political operative for the campaign or an objective journalist.

That is valid questions but who cares? The idea that journalists are without bias is laughable, especially those covering politics. Politicians having friends in the press is old news.

[Note: My editor, Ken Silverstein, wrote harshly about Sirota yesterday and disagrees sharply with this entire paragraph. It does matter in Silverstein’s view that Sirota deleted many tweets after he got hired and was had been attacking Bernie’s critics on social media without disclosing he was unofficially and soon the be officially working for Sanders.]

I became more interested in the discussion by liberals and some leftists over the campaign’s hiring of Briahna Joy Gray, the former writer for The Intercept and other publications. as its national press secretary, which is fantastic news. Gray, who has often been lauded by Silverstein — who was unaware until right now that Sanders had hired her or the other nine woman because the media focused only on Sirota — subscribes to the idea that addressing class over race is critical to achieving equality for all. That is a core belief at Washington Babylon.

Briahna Joy Gray

The question now, for me, is whether Sanders and the Democratic Party can adequately address racism? Sanders is an independent and self described “democratic socialist,” but he is effectively a member of the Democratic Party.

Living in Mississippi, it is clear to me that a campaign that does not address race and class will have a hard time getting the attention of many typically Democratic-friendly supporters, especially the non-white poor.

It’s borderline offensive in my home state to ask Black workers to stand with white co-workers, when most of their white peers still celebrate the Confederate flag. And will Sanders, if elected in 2020, really promote Medicare for All, free college tuition, criminal justice and prison reform, and other policies that will benefit communities of color in the South?

My suggestion to the Bernie 2020 campaign is to make race and poverty central issues and be present in Black and Brown communities to show — and demonstrate — solidarity. We’ll see what happens, but one thing is for sure: hiring Gray was a great move, for the Sanders campaign and for Gray. We at Washington Babylon wish her the best.

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Melissa Garriga is a political communications specialist from Mississippi. She writes about politics and culture, and likes to add fuel to the fire of the country's incipient class war.