For months the pundits have decisively stated that Latino’s and African Americans are in the bag for Hillary Clinton. This statement is generally said as a way to detract from the success of the Sander’s campaign. Recently the campaign has gone so far as to call black and brown voters her Firewall.
As a Latina Bernie supporter I reject this notion. It bothers me, not only because people of color are not a monolith group that can be sold wholesale but because I truly believe that Hillary Clinton is NOT the best candidate for people of color. Politicians in general need to stop objectifying people of color. We are not hypersexual jezebels, mammies, thugs, illegals,or mami’s. We are human beings and “dabbing” will not cut it. We are not single issue voters and our cultures are diverse enough to encompass us all.
I will admit that name recognition has been an issue for Bernie Sanders, I did not know about him myself until this primary began. BUT, this assumption that Latinos have some sort of rosy opinion of the Clinton’s neglects the fact that Hilary Clinton has repeatedly made statements that make me doubt how much she truly cares about Latino’s.
She called for the deportation of the minor’s fleeing Central America.
“They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who the responsible adults [are] in their family. We have to send a clear message that just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean your child gets to stay. We don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws or encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.
This call for order in immigration and for sending a message came after Hillary Clinton delayed in calling the military coup of Honduras exactly that, a coup. It comes after further destabilization in the region after the president of Honduras Manuel Zelaya raised the minimum wage for the country’s workers. We could have demanded his reinstatement and allowed the country to democratically elect a new government at its given time. Instead the US under Secretary Clinton’s leadership threatened to withold aid if an election was not immediate. So while Secretary of State Clinton may not have had a role in the coup itself, our countries interests were not in looking at what was best democratically but what was best for the minority who controls the wealth in the country.
Another failure is that Hillary Clinton’s campaign fails to address the intersectional issues that are of true importance to Latinos.
“I find it offensive when people talk to Latinos as though they’re one-trick ponies, like [immigration] is all they care about, I think you’re going to see significant percentages of people of color voting for Bernie on the economic message, the immigration message, and the climate change message.” Raul Grijalva
Therefore while immigration is important, and Bernie Sanders has been an advocate in that arena for a long time, he also has a stronger platform to handle racial injustice, income inequality, and healthcare. In fact, his position on single payer is especially important as I have seen many people of color struggle to afford the high premiums that are still dictated by insurers under the Affordable Care Act.
Data show that blacks and latino’s are more likely to be arrested, charged, and convicted for low level drug offenses. They are therefore less likely to get their education, and support families with employment. This is going on right alongside studies that show people of color use drugs at the same rates as white people. In fact for a black person there is a 1 in 3 chance of being locked up, for Latino’s it is 1 in 6 and for whites it is 1 in 17.
One of the options thrown out there by different advocacy groups has been to decriminalize marijuana. This is a policy that Bernie Sanders supports but that Hillary Clinton does not. They also differ on their views of the death penalty. Secretary Clinton reiterated her position supporting the death penalty in the the New Hampshire debate.
“I do, for very limited, particularly heinous crimes, believe it is an appropriate punishment, but I do deeply disagree with the way that too many states are implementing it.”
“What I hope the Supreme Court will do is make it absolutely clear that any state that continues capital punishment either must meet the highest standards of evidentiary proof of effective assistance of counsel or they cannot continue it.”
This response ignored the fact that people of color are more likely to be executed by death penalty.
Amnesty International has stated that:
Even though blacks and whites are murder victims in nearly equal numbers of crimes, 80% of people executed since the death penalty was reinstated have been executed for murders involving white victims.
More than 20% of black defendants who have been executed were convicted by all-white juries.
This statement comes at a time when there is a clear divide on what is a humane execution, and on the heels of some governors calling for a firing squad or even a guillotine to be used.
A study conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that white jurors were more likely to recommend a death sentence for Latino defendants than for white defendants in California. UNL study examines racial bias in death-penalty decisions
The point being made here is one that Bernie Sanders has made throughout his campaign. The system is rigged against the poor and working class, but especially people of color. This system has failed us not just in equal access to justice,but in access to employment, education, housing, and more. Therefore I disagree strongly with the Secretary that there should be any support for the death penalty as long as some Americans are less likely to receive good counsel, and more likely to be executed just for the color of their skin.
These two positions are ones in which the differences are clear between the candidates. Bernie Sanders supports ending the death penalty and decriminalizing marijuana. These two issues are pertinent for people of color and Secretary Clinton’s positions are ones that I cannot support.
The fact of the matter is that I do not believe Hillary Clinton is good for Latinos because I do not believe she is good for America. We are Americans, we work, we pay taxes, we are a community of different levels of assimilation and shades, languages etc but we want a country where we have a fair shot. The Clinton’s have used people of color as a negotiating tool with the GOP time and time again. So when people say she will get things done that worries me,
On whose back will she “get things done”?
This country was built on the backs of minorities yet we are continually denied the “American dream.” We are told our communities are unworthy despite paying property taxes. We are segregated throughout the country, so when I hear someone saying they can work across the aisle, that sounds good but how? Will we go back to simply being a special interest if she were to get elected?
What reform will she compromise on in order to get her way? She already refuses to support single-payer healthcare, a reform that would provide healthcare access to millions of uninsured Americans.
She also has her own past to contend with. When advocating for the 1994 Violent Crime Control Act Hillary Clinton chose to use racially coded language.
“We need to take these people on. They are often connected to drug cartels. They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about how they got that way but first we have to bring them to heel….”
These are not the words of someone that values the Black and Latino community. You do not bring youth to heel, you bring animals to heel.I teach young black and latino youth in Newark about sexuality with a program geared towards lowering the risk of STD’s and teen pregnancy. These classes have some rowdy, fun groups of kids. They are not super-predators. They don’t even know about their own body parts as I think they should. They just live hard lives in one of the most crime plagued cities in the country. And they take in these messages and internalize this racism, and it ekes out in certain vulnerable moments and this is why I cannot support a candidate that has perpetuated this myth. It is not just the mass incarceration, it is the coding that too many youth of color fall prey to. It is the message that they and their communities are doomed to fail and that they are fundamentally broken. As a therapist i routinely see children with behavior issues. A pattern I have noticed though is that when it is black youth the family are so terrified of jail. They don’t have the luxury to simply be rebellious youth. The spectre of criminality and its repurcussions is real in a very distinct way in the black community. I reject the notion that black and brown people are fundamentally bad and broken, and I embrace instead the vibrancy, the innocence, the willingness to learn and grow and be good, intelligent men and women.
Hillary Clinton has also supported multiple trade policies that have hurt America and Latin America. NAFTA, CTPA, Australian free trade agreement, Singapore free trade agreement, Chile free trade agreement and now TPP take jobs from Americans, and ship them overseas oftentimes to countries that lack standards and unions to protect the workers from abuse. Many companies from Walmart to Old Navy have in recent years been accused of slave labor in these countries. Small farmers from Mexico down have lost everything as international conglomerates have taken over.
In the case of the Colombia free trade agreement, the secretary knew about the human rights violations and chose to support the very deal she had initially opposed. (after her foundation received millions)
“As I have said for months, I oppose the deal. I have spoken out against the deal, I will vote against the deal, and I will do everything I can to urge the Congress to reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.” (April 8, 2008: Before the Communications Workers of America.
“First, let me underscore President Obama’s and my commitment to the Free Trade Agreement. We are going to continue to work to obtain the votes in the Congress to be able to pass it. We think it’s strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States. And I return very invigorated … to begin a very intensive effort to try to obtain the votes to get the Free Trade Agreement finally ratified.” (June 11, 2010
Hillary Clinton has supported these trade agreements and until pressed by Senator Sanders she reversed course on TPP, after endorsing it 45 times. These job losses are rationalized under the notion of free trade but Bernie Sanders has spoken out about who the “free trade” really benefits from the beginning. Sanders against NAFTA
The notion that there exists a nostalgia for a Clinton presidency when the economy was good and jobs were plentiful is a idealistic one. It is one that ignores the Clintons’ role in mass incarceration and terrible free trade agreements that led to a rise in unemployment for black’s and latino’s.
Much of our struggle is intertwined. We have suffered injustices in the neighborhoods willfully forgotten by many politicians. Civil rights activists and BLM activists have marched with Latino’s against deportations that split families apart and send many to their death. As people of color our experiences are varied and unique but our oppression is similar. The system and institutionalized racism is strong and as we grow we simply have a greater target on our backs. We are scapegoated when it comes to education and affirmative action, welfare, and immigration.
As a Latina I support Bernie Sanders. I believe that not only is he more capable of getting things done as president, but that he will actually follow through with his plans. I also believe that to Senator Sanders, we are not just a focus group whom he needs to win. To him we are Americans, that deserve a fair shot in this country.
So feel free to join me in saying #IamNotHerFirewall.If you are a Bernie supporter, know that despite what the media says, we are not “fans” we are supporters. We have agency and with that agency we have made a choice to support a presidential candidate. I reject efforts to limit our movement by calling us “bernie-bro’s” or “fans”.
Welcome to the revolution.