One of the founding members of the black feminist Combahee River Collective, which is behind the term “identity politics,” has endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for president, according to reports.

“Of all of the people who are running, Bernie Sanders is the person whose political commitment most closely reflects and align with political commitments that I’ve had throughout my life,” said Barbara Smith, who identifies as a lesbian feminist socialist, about Sanders, I-Vt.

She added: “He has a much deeper understanding of what the situation is, why we have injustice and inequality and oppression and discrimination or whatever words you use to describe a society that isn’t functioning the way that it should be functioning. He [has] the most incisive, sharpest understanding of where all that comes from.”


Many young people are excited about Sanders and his plans to cancel student debt, provide health care for all and take aggressive steps to combat climate change.

They believe Sanders is the only candidate with a progressive agenda who can defeat President Trump in November.

An Emerson College poll released Sunday night, heading into Monday’s Iowa caucuses, found Sanders, I-Vt., leading with 28 percent support.

Smith noted that her collective analyzes the macro world based on the micro distinctiveness of “race, class, gender, and sexuality,” noting systems of oppression in western society intermesh.

“The way it’s been used in the last couple of decades is very different than what we intended,” she said about identity politics.

She clarified the term, which is about diversity and inclusion not erasure and marginalization, has been watered down for mass consumption: “When we use the term ‘identity politics,’ we are actually asserting that black women had a right to determine our own political agendas. We, as black women, we actually had a right to create political priorities and agendas and actions and solutions based in our experiences in having these simultaneous identities—that included other identities via the working class, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. So that’s what we meant by it.”


She said identity politics isn’t narcissistic or xenophobic: “That didn’t mean we didn’t care about other people’s situations of injustice. We absolutely did not mean that we would work with people who were only identical to ourselves. We did not mean that. We strongly believed in coalitions and working with people across various identities on common problems. I think that the Sanders campaign and the candidate himself are absolutely consistent with what we meant by identity politics.”