I’m a young Black woman in Oakland, single mom and student – and a Bernie Sanders delegate!

by Shimeko Franklin

This year was the first time that a platform, rather than symbolic imagery, moved me to take action.

Shimeko Franklin
Shimeko Franklin

Though never apathetic, I have had an understanding that the political system is not intended to benefit people in my position – a Black woman, a third generation single parent and student. However, the Bernie Sanders platform spoke to me.

At some point during this campaign cycle, I was able to step away from the sensationalism of the mainstream news media, questioning how I could be a part of the movement that was happening. I started to investigate the prospects of a more active role in the democratic process – specifically the delegate process in California.

Wondering if there were people sharing intersections closely related to mine or that of the community that surrounds me in the Bay Area within this pool of representatives that would be venturing out to the Democratic National Convention, I decided to run. At the delegate caucus in Oakland, I was one of nine men and women, out of 110 candidates running, selected to represent Congressional District 13 for Bernie Sanders and my community.

We are not paid public officials but instead citizens who are concerned with getting inside the process. In my case particularly, I wanted to see someone who represented the diversity of this area voting for us.

Like Sanders, I share the sentiment that we need to make several egalitarian policy changes that affect all communities. I stand behind his platform because it outlines a demilitarization of police departments.

I stand behind Bernie Sanders’ platform because it outlines a demilitarization of police departments.

This is specifically important for neighborhoods occupied by people of color living in a police state. We need to see a shift in police education providing a better understanding of the communities they serve, rather than officers working as outsiders having an authoritarian stronghold on citizens.

Sanders’ platform looks to end for-profit prisons that house a disproportionately large percentage of Black and Brown young men, stripped of their rights to vote, find adequate housing and who are often unable to make a reasonable, living wage after being released from the prison industrial complex. Restoring voting rights for these men upon release will give a voice to a percentage of the population that is affected by legislation being considered just as much as any other citizen.

In his platform, Sanders insists that it is time to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. This would modify the current education structure to shift opportunity for disenfranchised communities that are currently functioning in a low performing school-to-prison pipeline. Instead, our children would have high functioning schools that are funneling them to higher education.

Overall, the Bernie Sanders platform relates to people in positions similar to mine. In the Bay Area, we are faced with rising costs of living, disenfranchisement, gentrification and systemic racism. People who feel this pressure know it is not a radical idea to have a candidate like Sanders defending our issues and speaking truth to power.

Overall, the Bernie Sanders platform relates to people in positions similar to mine. In the Bay Area, we are faced with rising costs of living, disenfranchisement, gentrification and systemic racism.

Most importantly, Bernie’s platform will benefit our children, particularly our children of color, as they enter the education system, the workforce and look to provide a stable home for their families.

Mainstream media outlets continue to keep Sanders’ campaign in the background. So I urge readers to get online and look up the Bernie Sanders platform. If his platform doesn’t relate to the way you are living, you may be part of the top 1 percent.

Shimeko Franklin is a California native working and living in Oakland. She is a single mother, hairstylist and student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Electronic Music. She is currently serving as a pledged delegate for Bernie Sanders in Congressional District 13 (Barbara Lee’s district – Oakland, Berkeley and nearby cities). She can be reached at reachshimeko@gmail.com.

Editor’s note: California’s June 7 primary election could determine who will be the Democratic nominee for president. To vote for Bernie Sanders, you must be registered BY MAY 23 as a Democrat or “no party preference.” To change your party preference, you need to complete a new voter registration form. Californians can register or update their registration online using their California driver’s license or ID number by visiting http://RegisterToVote.ca.gov.