I wrote this as a sequel to a post from earlier this week on my other blog. That one was for class, but this one dives further into racial motivations behind supporting the Clintons. Please check out part 1.
I hear a lot of confusion from people my age when they hear that I or any other black person is voting for Hillary Clinton. Go ahead and get your jokes out of the way now, because I have a lot of explaining to do.
One of the first things I hear is, “Why would you support the Clintons? They have done the black community no favors and have labeled your young as ‘Super Predators in the past’”. So let’s talk about that.
In the above clip, Madam Clinton makes reference to the rise in youth gang rise, specifically implying that minority children were to blame. In the video she called them ‘super predators’ incapable of empathy who needed to be ‘brought to heel’. This, of course, is problematic because of the dehumanizing nature of Hillary’s word choice. Yes, it was vicious and condescending, but it was also 20 years ago. No, I don’t support the rhetoric. And yes, she has apologized since.
Twenty years ago the nation was in the midst of a crime epidemic in its major cities, affecting many minority neighborhoods in particular. I don’t know if you know this, but the 90’s were rough for the black community. As a community we were still feeling the effects of the crack epidemic AND watching members of our community succumb to AIDS/HIV. The consensus was that the streets needed cleaning through tough legislation that a MAJORITY of Americans – regardless of color – endorsed. At the time, Bill Clinton’s tough on crime rhetoric was deemed necessary by society. And for a time, inner city minority populaces prospered from these reforms. Neighborhoods were made safer with the unintended consequence of prisons overcrowding in disproportionate populations. It was a double edged sword that both protected members of the community and targeted others – but it was needed at the time. There goes one point to Clinton from the black community – cleaning up our streets. Clinton administration legislation made it so that a young Kendrick Lamar didn’t get shot through his own front window while watching cartoons and eating cereal. As somebody who once came home to a yellow tape outline where somebody died on my front porch as a kid, I can tell you about the violence that can precipitate in lower-income minority communities. I’ve also been the subject of unfair racially motivated targeting.
Let’s talk about Bill. Hillary will forever be judged by Bill Clinton and his legacy. Bill Clinton reached out to the black community at a time when politicians were admittedly still fogey and lame around minority candidates.
Bill Clinton engaged the black community, winning twice with 83 and 84 percent of the black vote. He stood up for the community in the form of his crime legislation and had the appeal of that one white friend you invite to every cook out (Ian, I’m talking to you pal!). Bill came into our homes, played a beautiful saxophone piece and sat on our couch to talk politics for 30 minutes that night. It’s the night he stamped his player card and we never looked back. Hillary inherits his cool points by default, but she’s not without her own merit.
Hillary Clinton is the ultimate ride or die chick. She found out about Bill’s jump off and stuck through it. This resonated with the black community who tend to be very family oriented, religious people. While I am not so much in line with the average, I can respect her resolve to not walk away from a horribly embarrassing situation and stay by her husband’s side to lead a nation by example – even at the expense of her own personal frustrations. Anybody would have understood if Hillary had left, instead she placed family and country above it all. Very Clair Underwood of her.
And finally, Hillary’s evolving ideal set is largely in line with the black community. What people may find surprising is that the black community is traditionally conservative, coming from their mostly southern and traditional roots. In that sense, the Clintons of Arkansas are royalty. Representing a moderate to conservative portion of the democratic electorate in the 90’s, the Clintons appealed to blacks. As society (Black America included) has softened its opinion on the matter of marriage equality, so has Clinton. Twenty years ago, the Madam Secretary was not down with the cause.
Newsflash: Neither was a large portion of the nation, myself included when I was younger. I was raised in a religious home and erroneously told that it was wrong. To this day, my mother and I bang heads over this. But I learned acceptance and about the uniformity of love between two people regardless of gender. And so has Hillary. That’s why I can respect her EVEN more for flip flopping her views. She learned something and took it to heart. Presidents must understand their own fallibility. Hubris does not a president make which is why Hillary failed in 2008.
I have a feeling Clinton won’t be making that mistake this time. She’s carefully adapted to her opponents message and reestablished her values as both appealing to the moderate establishment a *small* portion of left leaning constituents. She knows not to underestimate or cut down the grassroots upstart this time, but rather to learn what makes him appealing and assimilate. If anything that shows that Hillary isn’t worried about just beating Bernie, she’s preparing to absorb many of his soon-to-be-disappointed followers. Then she’s on to Trump.
Learned, she has.
P.S. I know some of you are snickering out there about her checks from Goldman Sachs and others. But I didn’t forget the money she earned in speaker fees. It just doesn’t bother me. These are typical speaker fees that celebrities and politicians are paid. And if it really burns your britches, you’ll be happy to know Hillary spoke to Goldman execs on several occasions in support of their 10,000 Women campaign, an initiative aimed at uplifting female entrepreneurship. You can watch her speech below. So yeah, I DEFINITELY have no problem promoting strong women, especially if another strong woman came up in the process.