On Saturday, Michael Tracey, a “roving” reporter for The Young Turks, a progressive news show on YouTube with millions of subscribers, decided to come for “Auntie Maxine” Waters (D-Calif.) before he was ready. During the “March for Truth” in Los Angeles, Tracey and his cameraman Ty Bayliss approached Waters and asked her about the Democratic Party’s focus on RussiaGate as well as her previous support for a U.S.-Russian solution to the Syrian conflict under President Barack Obama.
When Waters answered and then dismissed further questions from Tracey, he went full SuperSaiyanWypipoBernieBro and posted the following on Twitter:
Tracey followed up with some epic concern trolling, repeatedly claiming that the incident “wasn’t violent” but ratcheting up the conflict with words like “shove” and “push.” He threw in some racially coded words like “criminal” and “intemperate” just to make sure his dog whistle was in digital surround sound.
After Tracey posted the “explosive” video of his encounter with Waters, most journalists were less than impressed.
Medical technicians are still on the scene using the jaws of life to pull what’s left of Tracey’s integrity out of his sphincter. It’s pretty obvious that Michael Tracey was hunting for clicks and wanted to turn a Gloria Richardson moment into something akin to now-Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte’s insane choking, pushing and slamming attack on The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs a few weeks ago.
When the postings got more backlash than back pats, Tracey quickly dialed up his aggrieved white-person racism-insurance provider and got his black cameraman, Ty Bayliss, to back up his story. (The premium package includes Jason Whitlock, Paris Denard or a phone call from this guy.)
Bayliss starts off by saying Maxine Waters “ain’t shit,” then embellishes Stacey’s version of events. (This is after he backed up from his suggestion that Waters might have something to do with Tupac’s death. Where do they find these people?) Ty Bayliss’ candidacy announcement for mayor of the sunken place went off without a hitch.
It would be easy to make this another fawning piece about how tough and cool and unflappable Maxine Waters is, and how her push for Donald Trump’s impeachment is empowering, but that’s low-hanging fruit. Waters is not perfect, by any stretch. She isn’t quite Black Mariah from Luke Cage, but black folks in Los Angeles have had some legitimate concerns about her over the years. However, the Young Turks reporter wasn’t asking Waters about her constituent work; he was asking about Russia, which is only one part of what the congresswoman speaks about.
Waters literally waved Stacey’s microphone out of her face as she walked away. That’s it. If that’s unprofessional “physical contact” according to Tracey and Bayliss, then they must feel verbally assaulted every time someone says “Excuse me” to get out of the elevator.
What this whole incident really speaks to, more perniciously, is the recurring theme of white liberals trafficking in racism to punish black people who “get out of line.” Rather than call out their own relatives, neighbors and lovers, some white progressives just love to point a henna-tatted finger at African Americans when their own agendas fail.
Way back in 2006, when anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 passed in California, white LGBT activist and nationally syndicated columnist Dan Savage blamed black folks (all 7 percent of them in California) for the bill’s passage, instead of, say, the millions of white, Hispanic and Asian majorities in the state.
In 2015, when Sen. Bernie Sanders self-immolated onstage in the face of Black Lives Matter protesters, did his supporters retool a message for black millennials? Nope. They trotted out his Forrest Gumpian adventures throughout the civil rights movement and said that black folks weren’t giving him enough credit.
The Root’s Kirsten West Savali wrote about how Bill Maher reflexively used black death to criticize Cornel West for not jumping on the Hillary Clinton train soon enough to stop Trump. The list goes on and on. Tracey, a critic of the Democratic “establishment” and the RussiaGate investigations, is perfectly happy to use racial code words and imply that a sitting black congresswoman physically assaulted him, despite his own contradictory evidence, so long as it furthers his agenda of taking down the Democratic Party.
Black people in America are routinely shot, jailed and denied opportunities based on white people creating trumped-up charges and exaggerated threats out of spite—whether that is Emmett Till “whistling,” Tamir Rice “waving a gun,” Obama “lecturing” white audiences or a whole slew of other day-to-day, less publicized examples. The fact that Michael Tracey is a “progressive” journalist doesn’t make his actions and racial smears any less problematic. It’s important to remember that so-called progressive white allies and their African-American enablers are just as complicit in using race as a cudgel to control black agency, whether they’re behind a gun or a microphone.