I have written numerous times both here and on twitter about the issues that people of color face and how those issues are being heard, represented, co-opted, ignored and more throughout this election cycle.
Time and time again one theme has consistently brought me into a rage. I called myself a feminist when I said I would vote for the old white guy. I called myself an intersectional-feminist when I denounced Hillary Clinton’s use of the word super-predator, her Gandhi joke, her insults toward undocumented laborers during her time as senator of NY. Throughout these months though I have learned that Latino voters like myself and many of those closest to me are set to vote for Hillary. I have learned that African Americans are also a huge voting bloc of Hillary. People will vote how they choose and that is part of what makes America amazing.
What bothers me though is not that American’s willingly are voting for a candidate that wants us to go to war with Iran, or one that plans on regulating Wall Street with people that have made their fortunes on that mumbo-jumbo. What bothers me is how her campaign has co-opted intersectionality to the point that much like the Republican critique, liberals are engaging solely in “Identity Politics.” Look I take no offense at the SJW title, in fact I have called myself that in the past. I will always fight for mental-health care and comprehensive sex-ed funding. Free universal education, abortion-rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, survivor rights, affordable housing, and all the things that I am passionate about.
But let me clear, I will not hand over my battle to white feminists who say that millenial females voting for Bernie are doing it for the boys, going to hell, or “have had it too easy.” You can’t have it both ways. You cannot co-opt our struggle and then deny its existence when we don’t fall in line. You don’t get to use rape language in referring to politicians keeping their word about a debate. You don’t get to erase the millions of black,brown, asian, etc voters that have found a messenger in Bernie Sanders. This agenda is evident when David Brock says Black Lives don’t matter to Bernie Sanders because of his campaign ad. He ignored the millenial brown woman cheering and engaging in politics. He ignored the black woman smiling and hugging Bernie Sanders. He ignored members of the crowd who could be black, brown, Arab, Indian etc because it did not fit his narrative of the Bernie Sanders campaign. He ignored the beautiful image of the Latino father and daughter supporting their choice for president together. This image resonates with me because too often Latino and Black men are portrayed as deadbeats so I appreciate the campaign taking the time to show this father daughter duo. Could the campaign do better? Absolutely and they have but its been a genuine growth rather than simple pandering.
We do not need a white savior of any gender. Bernie Sanders is not the movement but he is the loudest voice right now. He doesn’t quit when the media tells him to stop talking about economics. He doesn’t shut up when the DNC wants him to quit. He keeps talking even when the media all but ignores him. His stance on private prisons is why Hillary Clinton stopped accepting direct donations from them. He has visited the border and spoken to veterans who have been deported. We the people publicly financing his campaign do not want him to quit.
I do not see in Hillary Clinton a true ally in the struggle for clean water, affordable housing, $15 min wage, or an end to fracking. Hillary Clinton has not won me over because her campaign has whitewashed the Sanders campaign in a way that benefits themselves. Every disagreement engenders a feminist critique that is as self-serving as it is obvious. Hillary Clinton may be a woman but let’s not forget that this is the woman who said she was “dead-broke” after leaving the white-house. This is the same candidate who employs David Brock as the head of her super-pac. This candidate has no issues benefiting from her wealth, her connections, and her control of the media.
Her campaign weakens feminism when they attribute all critique to sexism. When we talk about her inconsistency on the issues we are discussing facts. When we point out her support for fracking around the world we are not attacking her gender we are questioning whether or not as president she will make it a point to ensure the needs of the people over corporations. She did not do this as Secretary of State in Honduras, Colombia, Haiti, or Libya. Time and time again Hillary Clinton has placed the needs of the powerful over the needs of the average America.
She does not support free public colleges at a time when students are saddling themselves with large amounts of debt trying to just get out of the neighborhoods they were born into. To say that she does not support it because rich people will take advantage is disingenuous at best and bullshit at worst. The fact of the matter is that the Clintons and Trumps of the world do not attend Rutgers University. I don’t say that because Rutgers is not a great institution after all it is my alma mater but because the fact of the matter is that the elite don’t choose their children’s school based on finances and that argument quickly falls apart.
Recently an article was published that attempted to smear Bernie Sanders as a rapist. If that sounds appalling to you then we are definitely on the same page. The fact of the matter is that 1 in 4 college age women are likely to be victims of sexual assault. This stat is based on reported assaults and I can tell you from my work experience that the vast majority of assaults are not reported. Poor women, women of color, native women, trans women, and sex workers are much more likely to be abused. To treat Hillary Clinton as a victim minimizes their struggles and takes away from the fight to teach consent, to establish a survivor’s bill of rights, and minimizes the work that so many therapists, social workers, etc do with survivors of trauma. It also makes any critique on her an assault which serves to deflect away from the issues. You delegitimize feminism when you posit men as intrinsically dangerous and victimizers.
I have been told that I am a minority among minorities for my support of Bernie Sanders. Other prominent women of color Bernie supporters have been told that they owe their vote to Hillary Clinton and feminists without acknowledging that many in the suffrage movement were virulently racist. In fact it was Elizabeth Cady Stanton who fought to keep Black men from the right to vote.
“Asked straight out whether she were ‘willing to have the colored man enfranchised before the woman,’ she answered ‘no; I would not trust him with all my rights; degraded, oppressed himself, he would be more despotic with the governing power than even our Saxon rulers are.’”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Hill and Wang, 2009)
We will not hand over our movements to anyone. Women of color have fought for thousands of years around the world for their right to have a voice and we will not stay silent in the face of such appropriation of our movements, our voices, our justice. To see Hillary Clinton suddenly decide to support the #fightfor15 was a clear example to me of how her campaign will take every opportunity to spin something in her favor. Even every critique of President Obama has turned into hatred and rejection of his presidency rather than a conversation among people who support the man but do not agree with certain of his policies. I have mentioned before how disappointing it is to know that President Obama has been dubbed our “Deporter in Chief.” This is a legitimate critique and one that is worthy of discussion to see what can be done and how to move forward. Rather than acknowledge her role in the Mexican drug war, Honduran coup, and U.S. Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and how that has affected migration to America she has instead attempted to appeal to the right by stating that the immigrants mainly children should simply be sent back.
In trying to treat Hillary Clinton as a true candidate and opponent that she is Bernie has been attacked as sexist time and time again. While I can agree that Bernie lacks a certain political finesse that is one of his appeals to voters. We feel so disconnected from politics not just because of the vast sums passing hands but because there exists a sense of deceit among politicians that voters have simply had to accept.With Bernie Sanders it is different. He is responsive to different voices without flip flopping. He takes into consideration dissent rather than decry it as sexist or make himself a victim.
The reality is that his campaign has been an uphill battle from the beginning. In this instance the woman in the fight was much better prepared to go to work. She had the support of the party and super delegates long before any votes were cast. The problem is not that she benefits from this preferential treatment but that she refuses to acknowledge that this is being done on her behalf. How does she expect us to believe that she will tackle institutional racism when members of her own party are standing with Payday Lenders over poor and working class American people?
The problem for me is that while her campaign is very effective at making her the victim they are also blatantly dishonest and this has turned me off of not just Hillary Clinton but feminism. The reality for me is that feminism is too often synonymous with white-feminism as evidenced by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Latinxs, Africans Americans, Native Americas, Asian Americans, etc deserve a space to tell our stories, to contribute to policy discussions, and to control our narrative. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has shown me that traditional feminism is not the place to accomplish that. Until and only if that changes I will continue to support mujerism, and womanism and the remarkable people looking to create change in our nation of inequalities. Throwing around Bernie Sander’s #white-privilege without looking at the privilege that come with being a first-lady, senator, secretary of state, multi-millionaire, mother-in-law to a hedge fund manager, attorney, and presumptive (WHITE) nominee of the Democratic party is lazy thinking and I am officially over all of it.